Thursday, September 25, 2008



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

British Eyes, Asian Teeth

This has to be the most astute observation anyone's ever made to me:

"Brits are to teeth what Asians are to eyes."

That's Patrick Cox, who sent me this article about 'American v. British Teeth' in The BBC Magazine. If we Asians can be scientific and call it an epicanthal fold, the Brits most certainly have what could be called maxilofacial gold. (Thank you thank you I'm here all week...)

Patrick, by the way, has what for my money, is the best podcast out there on one of my most favorite subjects: language. PRI x The BBC's "World in Words" gives you the "hmph, I had no idea" feeling you love in books like "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers," or "The History of Names" (EDIT: It's actually "Names on the Land" by George R. Stewart) If you like reading wikis and other in-depth trivia, this podcast is a must-listen.

Let me elaborate.

I know a lot of people like myself, who get excited about etymologies and are particularly entertained by puns, and the history of words, and neologisms such as "maxilofacial gold." (Thank you thank you...)

But when you think about it, everything is a neologism. Some are older, but still...And rather than look at the world through the lens of politics or a philosophy of art, why NOT through the lens of populist linguistics?!

Here are some "hmph, interesting" tidbits from The World in Words:

Did you know Ghanaians are named after the day of the week they're born?
Do you know the taxonomy of IKEA products?
Know anyone named Defecacion? Patrick does! (err, he knows someone who knows someone...)

Anyway, go check out the podcast. Subscribe, join their Facebook network, etc etc.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I love poor picture editing

So I get news of this scandalous film censure taking place in Bangkok via KineJapan:

There are reports that the Bangkok Film Festival dropped Sakamoto Junji's new film Children of the Dark (Yami no kodomotachi) because of objections by the main sponsor, the Tourism Authority. The film deals with child prostitution in Thailand.

And I follow the link.
"Vicky Christina Barcelona" gets brief mention in this news item, yes. But Woody Allen's picture? IN A PIECE ABOUT CENSURING THE STORY OF UNDERAGED ASIAN SEX WORKERS?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Voicing Approval Versus Voting

As many of you know, there's a PBS poll being taken right now which asks the question, "Is Sarah Palin qualified to become Vice President of the United States?"

Regardless of how honestly we can answer that question, the issue seems to be that the Republicans and Democrats are campaigning for us to vote out the margins on this issue by going online and clicking "yes" or "no."

I can't imagine everyone's not cheating. You can answer the poll as many times as you want, making this the most unscientific tally since American Idol and "eenie meeenie miney mo."

Now, I'm not telling you how to vote in the general election, honestly. Far be it for me... But I did notice: it's amazing this election season how fixated we are on ancillary popular opinion polls (i.e. polls that don't ask how you're going to vote, but how you feel about someone who isn't the top of the ticket), and it forces me to think we're being corralled into polling because both sides assume the "undecideds" are so stupid they'll just follow a majority. A majority created by clicking on a button over and over.

"Look Anne. 54% of people polled on CBS/PBS say they think Palin is qualified. I'm sold. I'm votin' for John McCain!"

And then there are the "guy you'd rather have a beer with" questions. It's like being asked what celebrity you'd most like to fuck. A reasonable person would have an answer, chuckle, then add, "BUT OF COURSE, IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN."

Don't forget, people. You and I will never ever kick back and have a beer with McCain or Obama, we will never ever make moose stew with Palin, or share a microwaved nachos from the food car on the damned Amtrak to Wilmington with Biden. Ever.

And so if you really want to express your approval rating, I highly recommend you do what you do with anyone else you can't sleep with and rub one off. (Then go vote at that PBS poll)

Friday, September 19, 2008

what CAN'T this guy perform?

Gangster, hobo, lover, Ghandi, vampire priest...

Now Ben Kingsley is Ian Makaye.

Sir Ben Kingsley STOMPS into the shoes of Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye from Mean Magazine on Vimeo.
(via VICEland)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Palinmania fuels sales of Japanese glasses"

My half-assed feel good story of the week:

Kazuo Kawasaki, who designed Sarah Palin's non-allergic titanium rimless eyeglasses, has seen exponential sales growth since she hit the tv-waves. He's grateful, and adds she'd look good in anything.

From The Telegraph

CD That Plays Different Song Every Time You Play

...and no, I'm not talking about the iTunes "random" button.

From The Wire (UK Magazine, not Baltimore PD show):

[Tim] Hodgkinson met software designer Andy Wilson. Together they investigated ways to locate a selection of sound files within different contexts and to use them in different that repeated plays produce a stream of previously unheard music.

Yes, that's right. Every time you play the CD, it plays different parts of the same track.

This reminds me of The Finder: Talisman, by Carla Speed McNeil, in which the content of a book changes every time you read it. But of course, that was sci-fi, if really friggin' awesome sci-fi.

In the case of this CD, the future is now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lalapipo versus Oscar Wao

I was just having an argu-sation about gender with a couple writer friends the other day, that made me think: what price equality? Scorcese would fail miserably with an attempt to incorporate a Merryl Streep or Frances McDormand type in Casino or The Departed. Likewise, I don't really care what Candace Bushnell thinks of boxing.

So, a few weeks ago I read a book called Lala Pipo, by Hideo Okuda, in one day. It wasn't just that my previous employer published it (there's your full disclosure), or that I like funny stories about perverts. It was simple, direct, "honest," very clear in its conceit, and yes, a hilarious send-up of so many societal ills that would seem macabre in any other light. Think Chuck Palahniuk and Todd Solondz, or Tom Perotta and Ron Jeremy.

A few nights ago I started The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Juno Diaz after months of feeling like I really ought to. This book too, I could not put down. It isn't just that the narrator makes brilliant and copious use of the f-bomb or name drops otaku icons with just as frequently. Or that I like funny stories about masturbators, as well as comic books and Tolkien. It was experimental while germaine, historicist while postmodern, metafictive while populist genre-rific.

What these two titles share is a narrative conceit, comparable to the game "Telephone" or a relay race. The books are made of a bunch of stories that take place in genetic-geo-temporal proximity, and share one prescient theme bifurcated by two other ones. In Lala Pipo I'd argue it's sex bifurcated by labor and "the city." In ...Oscar Wao, I'd argue it's family, bifurcated by language and sex.

But this is where I run into an enormous conflict. "Oscar Wao" is more deserving of praise, perhaps because it tries harder and accomplishes more, but it fails so magnanimously, so obnoxiously, at one thing, that it becomes almost impossible for me to give the entire book, both my thumbs. And that one thing, is the narration of Oscar Wao's older sister, Part 2 of the novel.

Part 1, mind you, is one of the most amazing "short stories" I've ever read in my life. So are Parts 3 and 4. The last part of the book is just fine (awesome if you feel comfortable making fun of gentrifying New New Yorkers without calling attention to yourself). Point being, if you want to read an exercise in amazing beginnings, start with this novel.

But man if I didn't want to burn the book halfway through Part 2. It was so full of cliches, unironic stereotypes, and really poor qualifications of female issues (literally: menstruation, hair, breast cancer). It makes one wonder if Diaz does it on purpose. I am reserving judgements against Diaz's own gender, but this is the most astounding schism I've ever encountered in such a brilliant novel. Imagine watching "Glenn Gary Glenn Ross," or some Lars Von Trier like "The Celebration": a chamber piece, if you will. Now imagine one of the main leads is replaced by Paris Hilton or a tenth grader in fourth grade remedial math.

In contrast to this, "Lala Pipo" is no "Glenn Gary..." or "The Celebration" (and just so it's clear, I'm not comparing the narratives of "Oscar Wao" with either of those films. Just the chemistry of characters, and intensity of performances.). But "Lala Pipo" isn't trying to be anything like that. It's more like an episode of some FX original sitcom. It's just really entertaining. And, well, all the women in the book are kind of... stereotypical idiots. Truly the lesser half.

And this is where I come back to the argument about writing up gender.

Do I laud a misogynist his expose on perverted men because he's been forthright?
And do I then fault a genius his very short attempt at a woman's bildungsroman because it feels disingenuous?

Monday, September 15, 2008

envy comes in pairs of women.

Envy is such an awful feeling. Especially when you know there's no calculable intrinsic superiority between the envier and envied. I mean let's be honest, most of us are raised to think we are the eye of the tiger itself. Rawr. (Note: tigers are cats and cats are catty.)

I'm not that bad when it comes to professional competition. I'm happy to cede the yardsticks. I will never make loads of money (read: publishing is labor-of-love), and I value hard work without the titles. I'm even pretty good about platonic female competition, because it's just embarrassing when women get catty. It's an embarrassment I compare to shopping with my mom when she asks the most uppity looking clerk if she gets a discount for being a senior citizen (true story). But this jealously line gets thin when female friends are actually sexual rivals.

You see, recently I was bombarded with the positive reviews, hipper-than-thou blurbists, interviews, endorsements, amazon recommendations, crescendo-accelerando applause, for the latest book by a sexual rival.

How dare she leave the positive markings of a novelist, a bard threatening MY medium, haunting the mausoleum of my closest neighbor, terrorizing my ego!! (cue: "O Fortuna" Anne sheds tears of blood.)

Oh lord.

But then just as all seems an attack on my patient life of quiet contentment, I see this hilarious send-up of womenvy. Contextual humor makes everything ok.

God bless Hillary Clinton, and god bless being allowed to like that catty bitch again.

RIP David Foster Wallace

What a strange week in suicides.

David Foster Wallace was found dead with a noose around his neck.

Tennis anyone?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I must have been a terrible stewardess in a previous life.

I don't know if it's JetBlue, global warming, or karma, but I have not had a "normal," much less "tolerable" flight to or from Long Beach airport (CA) in the last six months.

Now I know some of you are thinking, "What. That's like two flights, tops, right?" or you're thinking, "Gosh. I had no idea Anne was such a high maintenance flyer."

You're both wrong.

Am I a nervous flyer? Yes. Do I take dramamine and pray the engine doesn't explode, everytime we take off? Yes. Do I happen to have to fly to Southern California every six weeks or so? Unfortunately for the nervous flyer, yes. Yes yes yes to my trans-American career path.

No no no to JetBlue.

Let me give you an approximate look at the horror that has been flying as Anne Ishii:
June, 2008. JFK.
Flight to Long Beach is delayed several hours.
Returning flight is rerouted to Rochester "for some reason. I (pilot) don't see any weather, so there must be something else going on on ground." Our landing is delayed a total four hours. I get sick with the flu that night.

July 2008. Long Beach.
I get a courtesy call: "Your flight has been cancelled. Please call 1800-jetblue to reschedule..." I call only to find out that because I was redeeming True Blue passes, I can't just take the next flight out. I have to PURCHASE a ticket on a flight leaving TWO DAYS LATER.

September 2008. JFK.
I WAIT SIX HOURS IN A CLOSED CABIN. Not only are we delayed. We are delayed in a closed cabin. They refuse to take us back to the gate, and then are forced back in order to refuel. On my way out of the plane which finally lands in Long Beach 7 hours after planned time of arrival, MY IPHONE HAS GONE MISSING. I ask flight attendants to help me find it. ONE of them looks under the seat cushion I was sitting at. I ask the airline desk if they have a lost&found. They shake their head in annoyance and simultaneously walkie-talkie the same flight un-attendants I just spoke to, sighing "did any of you find an iPhone on that flight from JFK?"

Basically, because everyone (including staff) was delayed six hours in their planned day, no one wanted to take an extra minute to help me find my phone.

Whatever. Fine. I lost my phone...while on a plane...for 12 hours.

Four days later I'm at the same airport, and MY RETURN FLIGHT IS DELAYED TWO HOURS!!! While waiting, I hear on the PA system, "if anyone has lost an iPhone, please come to the TSA desk. We have it in our office."

I had to look around for Rod Serling to make sure I wasn't in the twilight zone. This announcement irked me as it meant there IS a place for lost items.

When I get on the plane, there are a scant number of seated flyers, and as I approach the back of the plane where I'm supposed to sit, the luggage compartment directly above it is closed...but there are also like, no people sitting in that row, so I assume the compartment is going to be empty.

When I open it to find it stuffed with food and blankets, the stewardess nearest me looks hard, and rolls her neck, then says "the CLOSED overhead compartments? Are full."

Thanks. I didn't know I was on the short bus.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

RIP Nagi Noda

My god. She was so friggin' young. (Some of you will remember Nagi Noda came up in this blog a few times for a collab set of Tezuka shirts at Uniqlo as well as some killer videos also uploaded by fellow GR-blogger Aaron.)

TokyoMango news posting

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oprah doesn't want to talk to Sarah Palin.
I wonder if she'd take Bristol.
The most shocking moment in the last night of the RNC for me was not the anti-McCain saboteurs in the stands. It was that the night ended with the song "Barracuda" by Heart.

It comes as absolutely no surprise that Heart immediately issued a "cease and desist order" to McCain/Palin 2008 whom Nancy Wilson (of Heart) claims did not ask permission they would not have been granted, to use the song.

I can think of TONS of republican musicians who'd love to have had their music featured:

Toby Keith
Garth Brooks
Kid Rock
Daddy Yankee

Oh wait. They're all tools. I get it now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Fly.

Remember that movie? Jeff Golblum, David Cronenber, a fly, a bioniformer cabin...

Reading the LA news, I triple-taked on a banner ad for:

The Fly: The Musical
Starring Placido Domingo

What. The. Fly.

catch phrases in ascii

From Pink Tentacle:

Anata to wa chigau n desu (”I am different from you”). In the few short days since Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda uttered these words to a pesky reporter after his shock resignation, Japan has witnessed the birth of a new buzz phrase online.

Follow link for awesome computer-love/art of Fukuda being different from you.
(Thanks, Nate)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Japan-America Film Relations

The news: Kristen Bell is going to be a leading voice on the Astro-Boy movie, and Dark Knight BOMBED in Japan.

Observation 1: I've been hearing about an American Astro-Boy movie for what feels like an eon. My anticipation of the film is as high as a Humboldt freshman, but my expectations are only as high as a carrot. I'm excited to see that the voice used to narrate a soap opera about teenage girls seeking acceptance by sucking on boners (Gossip Girl), is also playing the cryptically designated role of "voice" (, in a movie about a cyborg toddler seeking acceptance by licking aliens.

But "voice" notwithstanding, there's no way Astro-Boy will live up to the expectations of the Japanese collective subconscious. I mean, imagine if the Japanese remade Mickey Mouse. It would take A LOT for it not to bomb. It would take...Hillary Duff?

And hence, Observation 2: Of COURSE Dark Knight bombed. It didn't have Hillary Duff...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dude. What is going on! The second Premier of Japan to resign in as many years. Whatever happened to "faito!"

In other news, a fantastic article about Yellow Peril Sci-Fi, on io9.
Gonna point out something sort of self-serving, but I was somewhat surprised that the thesis this posting -- that Asian characters represented "evil" in 1920's-1930's sci-fi, and represent "the future" in the 1980's-1990's -- doesn't address its equally popular female post-war counterpart: Yellow Poontang (ibid: "Fan Tan" by Marlon Brando)...who then becomes the Yellow Poontang Emancipated (ibid: "Memoirs of a Geisha" "Snow Falls on Cedar" "Twin Peaks") in the 1990's and 2000's. But of course, io9 is a sci-fi blog, and I am the one self-righteously publishing book reports on "lady Asianica"so it's probably only right that it wasn't mentioned at all. Two JA chicks with different axes to grind online would form a vortex of meta-criticism and then we'd all tear through the fabric of time-space continuum and end up on the wrong side of a Bladerunner screening in kimonos. Whooooa

(Thanks for the heads up, Eric S.)