Thursday, January 24, 2008
Bonjour from Paris y'all.
So, I am reading an article in The NY Times Medium Blog about burikko (that Japanese "cute" voice women effect), when BBC-America airs a commercial for Huangzhou Tourism featuring a Chinese woman happily being chased by a balding white man. I'm not kidding.
BTW, if you follow the link to "Huangzhou Tourism" (URL provided on aforementioned TV ad), you'll notice the entire site is in Chinese. So they made a commercial geared towards whitey, but the site with more information is not in English. Someone obviously didn't meet their web redesign deadline...
Other funny thing I heard on BBC America this morning:
Siemens is now debating discharging certain members.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"Vertigo is the jam! I mean, what was up with that whole Joshua Tree and War crap back in the '80s? And what about those nifty sunglasses Bono (pronounced boh-noh) huh? Love it!"
However, in my defense, I like J.J. Abrams, because like many movie-goers, I get sucked into a volatile and ambivalent curiosity only he can conjure.
Case in point, the Cloverfield trailer.
Anyway, all that to say there's a manga adaptation of Cloverfield, which essentially sucks all the curiosity out of you and replaces it with hamfisted gratification.
link from the Wired magazine blog .
"Here's the Tokyo subway; can you imagine that?" said Matt Mancuso, a customer reporting agent at Cigna, showing a map of the 5.7-million passenger system to a table of 10 at Sushi Nabe at Coolidge Park.
Mr. Mancuso does have to imagine it.
Though he co-founded the city's most popular foreign-culture Internet-based social group, he's never been to Japan.
That doesn't stop him from attending monthly meetings of the Chattanooga Japanese Language and Culture meet-up, spending $25 per month for Japanese cable or rooting for the Chunichi Dragons.
With 59 members, Japanese Language and Culture is more popular than local culture clubs focused on Spanish, empaths, walkers, coffee lovers, pregnant women, Dungeons & Dragons players, Al Gore drafters and real estate developers.
You hear that? More popular than pregnant women!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
But that is one of the nice things about New York, I realized - you can feel like a tourist or a native at any given moment. It's like that optical illusion where you see either a vase or two profiles.
And the other thing about NYC, is this phenomenon of "networking," aka "it's a small world."
Many years ago someone introduced me to an architect whose first name was something Arthurian like Galahad, or Excalibur (no joke), and he said it best: The city is organic. You can go out for a walk downtown and end up in a political rally in midtown, then finish the night with some random new "best friend" in Bushwick.
But that's all just a preamble to my name-dropping (another big New York thing, probably) in 3,2...
Monday night I took the Asian-American ad agency crew to Tokyo Bar where we met and talked to Taeko from New York-Tokyo, who ran into and subsequently introduced us to DJ Spooky, who was meeting with an Asian-American Arts fundraiser. That to me, is the most complete example of that vase-profile optical illusion/small world phenomenon. Someone casually looking into the restaurant could have either seen an accomplished mixer or a group of Asians, but we were all doing the same thing.
Now, it'd be one thing if we just exchanged names, but the dude was actually really nice and we all had a nice long conversation about everything from MIT's publishing company to the sound of ice in Antarctica. (BTW, he's just made a documentary called Terra Nova, about the sound of ice and the consequences of breaking icebergs. Apparently it's debuting at Sundance.)
I need a back rub.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
People ask why I didn't just stay in France ("It's so lovely!"). I agree, it's a good place to be...sort of.
There's apparently a children's board book that just came out in France called Le Livre des Plus Petits, which presumably shows small things.
...Like, Japanese tourists. And it explains why France can be a real bummer. Overall, one of the coolest places on Earth, but you really gotta assimilate, lest you be blatantly referred to as "une petite chinoise," the way I was whenever I said or explained something Asiatic. [I don't want to use one example as a testament to a people, but it's the fact that no other of my French peers found this objectionable that irks me.]
I'd go on to argue that that's why people (including myself) feel good about assimilating to French society/culture - because it's so hard.
Just like it is so difficult and equally rewarding to be "accepted" by a lot of Japanese communities. Ironic.
Anyway, back to the book.
This racist depiction of Japanese tourists is no haphazard drawing. Bravi really gave it some thought. Here, les petits japonais vont monter l'autobus:It's no Indian Coca-Cola commercial, but it's almost worse because it's a kid's book.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Redroom.com, which premiered Dec. 21, is one of the more ambitious online communities for writers to date and perhaps the most timely, aiming to capitalize on the current potential for profitability of social-networking sites. It features 150 authors (with 400 more to come), ranging from Amy Tan and Salman Rushdie to Edinburgh Castle Pub owner Alan Black; Graham Leggatt, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, who moonlights as a sci-fi writer; and local mystery writer Cara Black.
It was started by an Ivory Madison, (who on top of having a ridiculous alias or unbelievably perceptive parents, looks like a sexy cross between Siri Hustvedt and Marisha Pessl) and has been doing OK, apparently. Now, I don't know if the Chronicle's writing is confusing me or if I'm just having a hard time fathoming this, but if this is a "community for writers to date," what are Salman Rushdie, and Amy Tan (ggahghagggh...) doing on it? Is it that hard out there? (Pun intended)
(via Same Hat-Ryan via Japundit)
This poster was supposed to go up in JR East stations all throughout the town of Morioka but officials decided that an ad for a Naked Festival of Men proudly displaying an Asahara Shoko lookalike and what almost looks like a soul train in the background would freak people out.
Yeah, I'm pretty scared just looking at it too...though the festival itself sounds interesting...and yes, a little scary:
In the festival, crowds of men wearing nothing but loincloths participate in scrambles using sacks called sominbukuro. The festival, which has continued for about 1,000 years, is held in the hope of warding off plagues and producing bumper crops. This year, it will be held between the evening of Feb. 13 and early Feb. 14.
Scrambles in sacks. Hmph, you don't say.
Reel Geezers: two octogenarian Hollywood veterans (Marcia, a seasoned agent and producer whose credits include Carrie) and Lorenzo (dude screenwrote Papillon...amazing), discuss current films.
At first you're expecting two senile senior citizens poo-pooing real slowly about Hollywood blockbusters but it's so much better and less gimmicky than that. These two really know their film history, and make some apt comparisons and contrasts.
And their critiques aren't predictable. On the one hand, the language in Superbad was too gross for them, but Lorenzo says at one point about Lars and the Real Girl, that he would have liked the movie if the real doll were "kidnapped and raped by a local thug." Otherwise it was just "delusional."
Monday, January 7, 2008
There's a woman named Sascha Rothchild, who for all intents and purposes, is white. I discovered this demographic fact when I googled her name and found a video of her reading from an old diary on Get Mortified! - a weekly open mic, wherein everyday people tell embarrassing stories. (Advance apologies if the two Sascha Rothchilds are wholly unrelated.)
Anyway, this woman has a piece in LA Weekly's "La Vida" section - a column, wherein... everyday people...tell...embarassing stories. In her piece, Rothchild writes about how hard it had been to find a man, much less falling in love at first sight. How hard it was, that is, until she met and went on two dates with an Asian-American stuntman she affectionately refers to as The Ninja. She fantasizes about their prospective Korean-American life together (which, speaking as a half-Korean, makes her a masochist), and attributes his love-making skill to the fact that he happens to be a martial artist. She's endeared by his Asian respect for parents, his Asian modesty and his almond-shaped eyes...
At first glance I'm offended by the ninja nickname, because it's uttered by a white chick. But then as I read this thing I start to feel bad, like I'm reading another entry from her Diary - Year 13 (Dear Diary, You aren't going to believe this, but I met and fell in love with an oriental!). But then...I start to wonder if this wasn't:
a. Just a joke (at the end of the piece it turns out the guy never calls her back and she was had.)
b. Ironic (i.e. she's actually married to Guy Aoki now)
c. Post-ironic (i.e. LA Weekly was saying "Asian dudes are the new Asian chicks")
But finally, I just wondered, "why?"
Why was this published? Why did she write it? Why is it shocking that she'd fall for an Asian dude? Why why why?
Because the only way this story is interesting is if you think falling in love with a ninja is silly, exotic, unlikely, or offensive.
And folks, it's none of those things...because as we all know, ninjas are invisible.
(Thanks for the heads up, Ryan. And thanks for the vid, Sarah.)
Academician. Hehehe. I thought it was a fake word. You know, like falsificationism, or controlabilification or something like that. But it's a real word according to Merriam-Webster. It refers to an academic who promotes the academics. (As opposed to all those academics who spend all day convincing kids not to keep going to school because it's pointless.)
BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese and Japanese academicians held the third in a series of meetings this weekend aimed at bridging differences over interpretations of history, amid a warming of bilateral relations.
But I like my fake idea of an academician. It conjures images of magic. Of cloaks and masks and scantily clad female grad student assistants who run off with their magician/patron/professors, who together would take their show on the road, renaming their Historiography of Historicism paper:
Then is Now
Actually, magic could do a lot for bored grad students. Just think of the most boring seminar you were in, or else the most boring college course, period. (Classical Japanese Poetry, for me)
"I'm Hikaru Shirane, and this is..." an explosive burst of glitter shoots up into the air, directly in front of The Professor, before he steps over the falling confetti and finishes his sentence, "...Classical Japanese Poetry."
The Professor then jerks to his left, pointing at his assistant, The TA (her real name is Meredith and she's a twelfth year PhD candidate from Baltimore). The TA walks slowly towards the classroom and starts handing out an outline on the different ways to qualify auxilliary verbs in The Tale of the Genji, as The Professor says,
"Can I get a volunteer?" The classroom sits in stunned silence, and since no one raises their hand, The Professor elects the young overweight man in kakhis and school sweatshirt to come up, motioning simply by curling his black leather clad index finger.
"What's your name, young man?" The Professor extends his hand to shake, when the student notices an Ankh grafted into the leather glove.
"Uh, Peter Obermann." Peter starts sweating lightly.
"Alright Peter. Have you ever taken Classical Japanese Poetry, or Professor Smith's Classical Chinese Poetry in Ancient Japan?"
"Good...good. Ok, I need you to think of a character from The Tale of the Genji. Any character. Just don't tell me which one." Peter, having never read any part of the seminal novel, can only think of the title character, and does so now, very intently. Meanwhile, The Professor walks to the dry-erase board, which is cloaked in black velvet, before asking Peter and the classroom,
"Is it..." and he rips off the cloak to reveal a perfectly parsed classical Japanese poem, with each verb, subject and tone identified, with one name at the center, highlighted by the purple ink it has been written in. It is Genji. Peter, blinking rapidly now, stammers in disbelief, and looks at the classroom with his jaw agape.
"It is! It is! It's Genji!"
So how does Ahab beat Greenpeace?
He makes a YouTube video showing Australians beating up kangaroos and inciting race riots, to prove they're no better than the Japanese people who at least eat the animals they kill. But according to this Telegraph article, there's more to this than meets the eye.
I'm sorry, but that just seems ridiculous. Why, "against a vehicle?" Is there something about a car door that makes this process less painful for 'roos or is it so everyone who sees you driving around knows exactly what kind of person you are? (viz: kangaroo-shaped indentation in driver side door)
How best to humanely kill kangaroos and wallabies is a matter of intense debate. The latest code of conduct proposed by the federal government recommends blasting adults with a shotgun at close range.
The department of environment guide recommends "forcefully swinging" the heads of joeys, or young kangaroos, against a vehicle.
(Shaking head) Still. When a pot calls a kettle black, it doesn't change the fact that they're both idiots.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Lord of the Ringu (Frodo is the only one who can understand Sadako's burden, and Samwise gets jealous)
Charlie Wilson's War on The Chocolate Factory (Tom Hanks and Gene Wilder wrestle each other for two hours)
Y Tu Mama Mia! Tambien (Same as the Cuaron movie, only in Dutch, and all the sexual scenes are replaced with songs by ABBA)
Midtown: Vanya's Miracle on 34th to 42nd. St.s (Just one really really boring movie)
Well, he's done some great good again.
Here's a video postcard series on Japan, including one on modern Ainu music featuring an Ainu rapper.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
so i think we should all post our own staged david dehl home office photos. you first.
This is a great idea.
So here's me at work:
And here's me on my break:
Also, some shameless self-reference. Heidi over at The Beat asked a bunch of people what happened in 2007 and what will happen in 2008 with comics. Most of us said something about superhero movies and the digitization of comics (big ups on the majors putting archives online! Way big ups). Anyway, Heidi used a picture of me looking like a lesbian chode, and I feel bad about it so I'm making everyone look.
And it's not a blog if the gift don't keep givin'. It's my turn to ask:
What's the biggest thing that happened in 2007 in any subject that might come up in a conversation with me? (i.e. I don't care about Spears' pregnancies unless their children look like ewoks)
The biggest thing that'll happen in 08?
Most of my friends here in NYC don't listen to commercial radio, by simple default of not having to commute in cars, which partly explains why no one knows what's going on in commercial hip-hop. The other part of that exaplanation is that none of my friends fly JetBlue as early in the morning and as often as I do, which is where I get my one and only opportunity to see music videos on MTV.
Anyway, a few months ago, I watched a music video on just such a flight, and thought at first it was a new video by Stevie Wonder, until I saw scantily clad women trampling hundred doller bills. Though I've explained the video in exact and un-embellished detail to anyone who'd listen, no one, not a single person, knew who or what the fuck I was talking about.
"I don't understand. The rapper looks like Stevie Wonder, but just dances and throws hundred dollar bills at people the whole time?"
"Wait, the symbolism is the image of hundred dollar bills floating down over a snifter of whiskey?"
"Champagne funneled in a cleavage funnel?"
So, it came with some vindication but no surprise that T-Pain's "Let Me Buy U A Drank" was the most frequently played commercial radio hit of 2007.
Now, after watching a bunch of T-Pain videos, I have realized the simple genius of the conceit. It's like a Sesame Street version of porn. If female sexuality can be infantalized, male sexuality can most certainly be oversimplified (and infantilized in a weird way) also.
Let's look at another hit by T-Pain, "Im N Luv Wit a Stripper." I don't even know where to begin. One of the lines, by another rapper guest-featured in the video, says something like, "I like it when she takes out my cock and sucks it because I'm Twister." It's so genius. Super-simplified rap. Basically taking the middle man out of music, transforming it into porn. Really bad porn. The genius here for me is the simple fact that they're singing about strippers, so OF COURSE the "dancers" in their music video are going to look like, well...strippers!
I hope his next song will be "Let Me Buy U 2-Nite For a Lay" and then he can throw money at a stripper-like dancer and show the moon to signify nighttime, which will fade back to them in bed, to signify the lay.
Such a video would ease the pain of realizing there really never was a point for feminism. We were never not going to be objectified.
Anyway, having scratched that itch I soon came up with a great neologism that I hope will not be a Hapax Legomenon in this blog or the English language. Maybe it can be an Omni Legomenon (is my Latin accurate?).
I'll give you a second to ponder its meaning.
Ok. Masausage, is a massage of the sausage, aka a "hand job." But doesn't it feel better in the mouth to say "masausage"?
[Edit: new photos from the bride!] Back in September I went to a friend's wedding where those guests who were musically inclined performed the processional music via marching band. I played a snare drum. Our lead brassist was this guy:The trumpet player. He seemed really cool. Like the kind of guy you want to be your uncle (sorry, I stole that description from Ryan)
Today I'm reading The NY Times when I came across an article entitled, "Home Office Life and Its Discontents," which I TOTALLY understood on sight. Working from home has made me a sort of emotional wreck at times by simple default of not having any outside interaction with people (Mohammed at the corner deli saying "I see the lady is of the way?" when I buy tampons doesn't count).
The article covered a bunch of different examples of solitary home-office ennui and malaise...and then I saw this photo:In case you can't read the caption, it says "David Behl is lonely at his home photography studio." Basically, the saddest caption ever (you half expect the "wah wah" muted trumpet effect to play when you hover your mouse over the picture).
But look! It's him! It's the dude from the wedding band!
(Whoah, I just had a stoner's epiphany - wedding band can refer to the symbolic ring AND the musical entertainment.)
Anyway, here's to all the hard-working home-bodies, but not the home-working hard-bodies. Let's show 'em we can be alone all day in our dark offices and be loads happier than people in even the most hospitable communal environments.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
What is a Mental Commitment Robot?
Unlike industrial robots, "Mental Commitment Robots" are developed to interact with human beings and to make them feel emotional attachment to the robots. Rather than using objective measures, these robots trigger more subjective evaluations, evoking psychological impressions such as "cuteness" and comfort. Mental Commitment Robots are designed to provide 3 types of effects: psychological, such as relaxation and motivation, physiological, such as improvement in vital signs, and social effects such as instigating communication among inpatients and caregivers.
Meet Paro, a mental commitment robot modeled on a baby harp seal. Paro is supposed to mean "robot" in Japanese but I've never heard the word myself. This anti-stress device was apparently introduced at The Silver Industry Conference and Exhibition, which is "aimed to stimulate business interests to harness the economic opportunities of aging Asians."
Basically a toy convention for old people.
Paro...for when your grandchildren aren't small enough to put on your lap anymore.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Founded in 1989, the nonprofit center, in Koreatown, provides mediation and conflict resolution services to the wide range of ethnic communities in the city, with a focus on the Asian-Pacific Islander population. The center's credo is that peace building is critical to the livelihood of Los Angeles.
The center's youth division, Youth Mediators United, provides mediation training to students and faculty at several Los Angeles high schools and middle schools, such as Jefferson High. And the center reports great success. For example, in the four years that it has offered mediation services at Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood, the campus' suspension rate has dropped 50%.
If I believed for even a second that this would work in New York City schools I would not say this made me laugh as much as it impressed me.
But fun, did I have, eating. I think I lost my appetite somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving, seemingly for good. Who knew white bread and chicken breasts would catalyze my insatiable open mouth policy? My favorite thing to eat now is overcooked vegetables.
Speaking of eggs, I finally learned the true meaning of Christmas this year - watching kids tear through gift wrap in a Sisyphian trance of neverending anticipation. I watched as three kids under the age of 13 opened thousands of dollars worth of gifts like rabid dogs, and well, it made me happy...and scared. (Ibid: the gang-rape scene in "A Clockwork Orange")So that the effect of this picture isn't lost on you, let me just point out that the tree is at least 9 feet tall in this picture before the kids went at their presents. And that means the gift-wrapped boxes stack up to about five feet high at its apex.
Now, I realize anyone going on a trip out into the alien real world is going to find some funny stuff along the way. I found this just outside of a Best Buy foyer:Glow Crosses! 'Cuz it's fun to honor Jebus in the dark! (Viz: Anne wearing Oakley sunglasses, a torn off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, wearing pink lipstick, sporting two thumbs up)
I'm generally of the belief that no one philosophy of God should be more ridiculed than the other except the Rael sect (RE--tards), but glow in the dark crosses, much like evangelical hip-hop, could only really be the brainchild of a seriously misinformed adult trying to make friends with little kids.
Speaking of hip-hop...