Monday, March 31, 2003
The sun is out. Weird.
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To quote another guerilla writer / bloggist:
"self-reflection is priceless"
You probably already know this, but don't dismiss it readily. Consider it.
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Sunday, March 30, 2003
Wow, the quiz doesn't lie...
If you're old enough to actually know what a Care Bear is, you can take the quiz here. And yeah, I jzzzacked this from Yun's blog.
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Saturday, March 29, 2003
Working on Saturday... wh00t.
Actually, it's pretty quiet here at the museum. I like quiet.
The downside: Trying to drive my car around the hordes of tourists that flood Chinatown on the weekend... walk faster, you idiots! >=(
My Nissan needs a roof mounted .50 caliber for crowd control.
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memories, part I
I'm 8 years old and it's Saturday morning. I want to watch cartoons, but I know today is special. A mixture of excitement and nervousness is in every breath as I lay there in my bed... staring at my blue Snoopy alarm clock, watching the hands... tick... tick... tick...
It's 6:30 AM.
My bedroom door opens and my Dad walks in. He's already dressed, sweatshirt and jeans... I know because even though I'm pretending to sleep, my eye is peeking out of the covers to watch. He sits down on my bed and puts one hand on my shoulder to gently shake me.
'Time to wake up, buddy. Get changed, I'll be downstairs.'
I get dressed and go downstairs to meet my Dad. He's in the kitchen, drinking a glass of orange juice. He gives me a glass to drink and we're off.
Sitting in my Dad's blue Ford Mustang, I shift my weight to just hear the black leather seats creak. The entire car is immaculate, so I close the door gently because Dad scowls when I slam it. We don't talk during the ride, though my Dad hums along with the radio while I stare out the window at the rolling landscape. The Mustang gets us there loudly and quickly.
When we arrive at the range, we walk into a dusty building. Inside, the shelves are stacked with boxes of ammo and an assortment of pistols, rifles, and shotguns hang on racks. An old man behind the counter smiles and nods at my Dad as we approach the counter. The old man pulls out a stack of targets, black concentric circles on brown paper, and hands them to my father.
'You sign in too, young man.'
The old man's voice interrupts my daze, a daze the result of the strong smells of gun grease, metal, and powder. He pushes a log book to me and hands me a pen; I print and sign my name under my father's entry, my childish letters looking incredibly messy on a page filled with neat signatures. Oh well, at least I manage to stay between the lines.
Exiting the building and walking toward the range, I can already hear the sounds of gunfire. Sporadic shots, some small cracks, others are loud booms. Stopping at the car trunk, my father pulls out our gear - 2 sets of earprotectors, a metal toolbox, and a long case. He asks me to repeat the rules he's made me memorize before we came.
"What did we talk about Garrett?"
"Ummm... always treat the gun like it's loaded until you're 100% sure it's empty. Never point the gun at yourself or anybody else. Only point the gun at something you're supposed to shoot. Never put your finger on the trigger unless you're about to pull it."
"Good. What's the last one?"
"Always ask Dad for help."
My Dad smiles and nods approvingly. We put the earprotectors on and walk into the outdoor shooting range area.
It's less spectatacular than I thought it'd be - just a covered, paved area with benches on one end, and a high set bar on the other to look out over a dirt field, where metal stands for targets are set out at 25 and 50 yards, like row upon row of small football field goal posts. Where the paved area meets the field... a gutter filled with old shell casings, weather-beaten and forgotten. Dad puts down his toolbox on the bar and opens it. After pulling out a rag, his own pistol, 2 clips, and setting up the monocular on the tripod, he flips the safety alarm switch and walks downrange to mount our targets up.
Coming back to me, he opens the long case we brought to pull out a small, single shot bolt-action rifle - it looks insanely tiny in his hands. Standing behind me, his arms coming around me, he shows me the procedure to load and fire it, then places it in my hands for me to do.
Holding the lower stock in my left hand, I grab the bolt lever with my right hand, turning it counter-clockwise and pulling it back, opening the action to reveal the firing chamber. My right hand grabs a .22 bullet from an open box and I nervously load it into the breech. I then reverse my motion to close the chamber... push forward, turn clockwise, all while using my right hand again. The sound of the metal chamber makes a satisfying ka-ching.
Pointing the rifle down range, I cock the firing bolt with my right hand... click. Still behind me, my father steadies the rifle against me into a firing position, my left hand supporting the rifle up and into my right shoulder while my right hand wraps around the grip, right elbow cocked out. My right cheek rests against the stock and my right hand trigger finger points downrange.
"Whenever you're ready, buddy... hold it steady and pull the trigger."
The sights rock gently up and down with my breath. Or is my arm shaking? I try to get a bearing and just point it at the center. My finger begins creeping along the trigger. The metal's cold. I give it a firm squeeze.
The sound is loud, but not overwhelming... the ring echoes up and down the field to come back and dance around my ear. I feel the recoil from the shot push the buttstock into my shoulder, a gentle nudge, as the muzzle rises up. Instinctively, I tighten my hands to keep grip on the rifle. My father looks through the monocular on the tripod to check my shot downrange on the target.
"Good job, come look!"
My Dad motions to me to come, so I put the rifle down on the bar and scoot over to the side to look through the monocular - there through the sight, I see the target with as small hole on the paper, to the far lower right of the center... not close to middle, and not even close to the black inner ring at all.
"Hey, at least you hit the target on your first shot, huh?"
My father is smiling and chuckling to himself. I wonder if he's disappointed.
"Load it up and give it another shot! Get it? Haha. C'mon, I'll help you again."
Maybe it doesn't matter that I didn't hit the bull's eye. My Dad, with a wide grin, comes over to instruct me on my firing stance again. I smile too, as I eagerly reload the rifle and take aim again.
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Friday, March 28, 2003
Go computer monkey go...
So tomorrow is "Mystery Night" for the highschoolers at my church... should be pretty fun. Basically, it's a human scavenger hunt organized by us the counselors... the kids will be divided into teams and set loose upon the city of Seattle (chaffeured and chaperoned, of course) to seek out the "mystery people", who are dressed up and disguised. I just finished making up some dossiers that will be photocopied and handed out to the teams.
Pretty elaborate, eh? I think I'm surprised myself about how much work I put into these things for the kids. Maybe I love them more than I think I do. Or maybe for myself, it's always easier to give love to other people than to love myself.
Something like that. And probably a wistfulness for a lost childhood.
Work has been ramping up in busy-ness. Today I worked without a break, almost 6 straight hours, but I'm not complaining... I'm doing something I enjoy after all, so I'm trying to count at least that blessing. There are much worst things than editing digital video and picking out beats. I even brought some of my work home too - some copies of interview transcripts to read and highlight.
Did I mention I'm going in to work tomorrow too? Yeah, work on a Saturday... nutty.
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Five stacks of high society...
There are certain immutable constants in the universe, such as all guys love the movie Rounders and playing cards. I just got back home from Sam's place... the old card playing posse of myself, Sam, Mel, and Chris got together to play Big 2 AKA 13 for money. Being that we're all poor, it wasn't exactly big money, but still a lot of fun. We played 10 cents a card, winner take all with a usual double, triple, and quadruple scoring system:
13 cards = quadruple = max -52
12 - 10 cards = triple = max -36
9 - 8 cards = double = max -18
So the most you could theoretically lose on a hand is $5, while the most you could win from one hand is $15. Like I said, we're all poor. I don't think I was too down to go play late at night (we didn't start until around 10ish) after having worked during the day, and hearing nothing from Chris during the whole day even after he said he'd call/ e-mail me at work... didn't get the call until well until almost last minute, around 7ish.
But since we aren't able to get together as much as we used to, I made an effort to get out there. We ended up playing for about 4 hours.
I think at one point I was in the hole about over $20, but by a combination of stubborn-ness, skill, and luck, I whittled it down to just owing $3.75. Not bad at all. Poor Mel was stuck with the weight of some early bad hands, so he ended up paying around $20.
On the other end, Chris at one point was sitting on a pot of $30, mostly on account of some obnoxious luck in holding 2s and face cards, but by the end off the night, it had been whittled down to I think around $10. Sam is an instinctively good cardplayer who does well most nights - our own Beacon Hill rounder. I think the zenith of his pot was around $20, but he ended up winning around $15.
I guess the nice thing about cards is even if your luck is crappy, there's always chance, no matter how small, of being able to play it out. Being able to read people / anticipate how they play given a certain set of circumstances is a pretty big factor too - certain strategies mark people's playing style, like playing a high 2 early to be able to dump weight like a straight or an ugly flush.
But as I've lamented many times before, the game of life rarely plays out as cleanly. Some people catch streak of bad luck / bad circumstances, and no matter how hard they work to overcome them, they're still in the hole. "Skill" at playing life always yields to divine sovereignty, for better or worst in our dim human perspective.
Wow, I can't believe the weekend is already here.
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Thursday, March 27, 2003
Regardless of your current political beliefs, whether "pro-war" or "pro-peace", everyone can use a laugh...
You stupid moran!
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I'm really, really, really hoping I won't have to get a root canal in addition to the fillings. That would add an unwanted physical dimension to the present pain in my life.
Nice thing about alcohol... it blunts all kinds of pain. I'm trying not to lean too much on it, both for reasons of poverty and personal morals, but this past week has had a high suck factor. I really hate March. Dad's birthday is coming up; I should visit the cemetary and bring some liquor this year, if for nothing else to sit and have a "father-son" drink. I've always wondered what those are like.
Time for a night cap and sleep. Red, red wine... stay close to me.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2003
3 fillings & toothache versus aspirin = gg aspirin
but 3 fillings & toothache versus ghetto Gato Negro sangria = happy Gar
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newest additions to my short list of people to piss on:
racist cops in Issaquah
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Ever have that feeling that your life is moving from just one moment of misfortune to the next?
I swear, I couldn't make up stuff as insulting as the following story; not even if I tried..
Tonight was supposed to be a chill night. My good friend Chris is back in town for a week from his grad school adventures in La-La Land AKA UCLA, so he wanted to hang out and eat dinner. Since he's only in town for this week, I told him I'd skip kendo practice to meet him. He thought it best to meet on the eastside in Issaquah, since Josh and Val were possibilities to join us later, and it's about half-way between my house and his.
I know he's a sushi fan, so I looked up the addy of a good sushi joint out there. I find the address, notice it's off Gilman, and print off some directions to go there. I was starving, I hadn't eaten all day because of my fasting. I wanted to shoot for meeting at 7:00, but instead, in classic late-Fong style, our meeting is pushed back until 8:00ish - I get a call around 7:45 that he's just on his way with his carpool with his GF, Olivia. I head out; however much to my regret later, I forgot to print a map of the area or bring along Chris' cellphone number.
I end wandering up and down stupid Gilman for about 50 minutes before I realize the directions are absolute crap and the address to the restaurant is somehow wrong. Being hungry doesn't help my mood either.
The time is almost 9ish. Being a cellphone-less person, I decide I should locate a payphone / yellow pages to contact Chris and figure something out. From the corner of my eye, realize a little too late that a squad car has been tailing me closely for about the last quarter mile down an odd road... the minute the thought it would suck to get pulled over right now crosses my mind, I see the red and blue lights flashing.
It's the same squad car I had passed by while circling a parking lot to find my bearings. I had noticed the car was sitting there in the dark, lights off, as if waiting to spring a speed trap. Lucky me. I hadn't been speeding or driving recklessly. The only remotely strange thing I had done was circle the parking lot once.
Being the good citizen I am, I pull over quickly, and shut off my engine. I roll down the window, keep both hands high on the steering wheel, and look straight ahead, while watching the officer exit his squad car and approach me. Big white guy. His right hand is on his holster. He stops a pretty healthy distance from my window, I notice the safety strap is off and see the distinctive squarish, hammer-less slide that denotes a Glock. Piss... I turn on extra respectful, obedient minority Garrett-mode to say a gentle, "Good evening, officer."
Evening. You have a driver's license?
Definitely hostile. I look down to get out my license out of my pocket and pull it out very slowly. The last thing I want is some jacketed hollowpoints put into my head.
The officer asks where I'm headed. OK, maybe this stop will be blessing. I tell him I'm lost and looking for a restaurant where I'm meeting a friend. I figure this might be a divine appointment and I can get some directions to the restaurant. Wrong.
Instead, I get harassed and accused of having alcohol.
So, you're meeting a friend? Riiight. You been drinking tonight? I smell something.
WTH. I haven't had a drop of alcohol in 2 weeks, and I don't regularly consume cough medicine or mouthwash either. I'm certainly not stupid enough to drink & drive or keep an open container in my car. His tone is short and unfriendly. I notice the right hand is still resting on the holster. Uh-oh.
I shake my head and say "No" in the most inoffensive and firm way I can.
You sure? I can smell something. Maybe it's your cologne.
He didn't make much of an effort to hide his sarcasm. Goddamn liar. I don't wear cologne regularly; certainly not to meet CHRIS. I don't have ANY food or drink in my car that he could be mistakenly smelling; I haven't eaten all day! I'm trying to keep my cool; I ain't about to end up Rodney King style over some false DUI accusation.
He reads off my driver's license number and my car plates to the dispatcher to run a background check. He seems to totally not believe I'm actually meeting somebody at a sushi restaurant. In the mean time, I endure another round of interrogation questions, scorn, and general unfriendly-ness until I hear the dispatcher over his radio.
He's completely clean.
Woman's voice. Might as well been an angelic gospel choir... vindication! Officer Bully scowls and shoves my driver's license back at me to take.
You can go. The restaurant is off of Gilman.
My mind screams, "Gee, thanks, mister policeman. You're oh so helpful. I enjoy being pulled over for no reason at all and harassed." The only possible reason I can think of I got pulled over: I circled a parking lot. Ooh yeah, that must make me some sorta thug. My beat-up '90 Nissan Stanza must be oh-so-threatening.
I make haste and bounce; it's about 10pm. Guess I ain't gonna make meeting Chris. I pull into a gas station to replenish wasted gas and make a phonecall at a booth to his house to apologize and say I can't make it. His moms takes a message.
The way my luck is going, I suppose next time I get pulled over I can expect a nice clubbing or sodomizing... another "blessing" for my great life.
Stupid Issaquah five-o bastards... you must feel really big harassing us colored folks visiting your lily valley. I swear I should become a cop just so I can pull over rich white people to falsely accuse them of stupid BS... them or their obnoxious teenbopper spawn. See how they like it. =(
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Tuesday, March 25, 2003
A bad night. Enough said for now; I'm freakin hungry.
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Who manufactures truth?
A poster at the Chopstix boards pointed me to this interesting critique of the recent Oscar-winning documentary, Bowling For Columbine. It's quite shocking to read how much of the "documentary" was actually staged events, skewed editing, and bias, but on the otherhand, I'm not that surprised. Other opinion writers, from the Wallstreet Journal and Tech Central Station, are similarly outraged at Moore's deception.
If there's one thing I can be thankful for my college education in the Communications department, it's a thorough understanding of how mass media and journalism really function. People would like to believe that there are unbiased news sources; the fact is that most of the major sources of news in the world have strong interests that dictate an inherent bias. I even took class on documentary film and I found the same conclusion in many documentaries: there is bias.
Nothing wrong with bias, as long as it's out in the open and made clear - in complex events, the truth often can sometimes be discovered at the intersection of conflicting viewpoints.
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Sleeping is supposed to be easy, right?
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Monday, March 24, 2003
Still smarting from watching the Chicago-heavy Academy Awards? Need to refresh your cinematic taste buds with product that is free from musical-esque namby-pamby?
Well, have no fear, a friend has reminded me that Better Luck Tomorrow opens on April 11th in select cities, then expanding to more on April 16th. Critics have been raving about how good this film is; the fact that it happens to feature an interesting assortment of Asian American MEN in leading roles is just bonus.
Still not convinced? Here's a letter from one of the actors, Parry Shen.
A CAST MEMBER'S LETTER
What the April 11, 2003 release of Better Luck Tomorrow really means
In our lifetime, it is rare that we bear witness to an event, much less be a part one, that might change society. When the film "Better Luck Tomorrow" opens on April 11, 2003; it will be one of those events. On that day, "BLT" will be released in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. And open the following week, in: Washington D.C., Boston, Houston, Honolulu, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis.
The release will set a benchmark for a number of "firsts". 1) It is the first Asian American film ever to be picked up at the Sundance Film Festival. 2) It is the first film ever purchased and distributed by MTV Films. 3) It is the first all Asian-American cast to be widely distributed by a studio in a long time. It is because of all these "firsts" that I am drafting this memo, to shed light on just how essential it is that our community support this film. The first 3 weeks' attendance will determine whether or not we'll be setting a benchmark record for "firsts--and lasts".
I know it sounds extremely self-serving that an actor in the film have the audacity to draft such a plea to see his film. But it is because I have been so close to the film through production and have personally seen people from all ethnicities react so positively to it; that I truly believe this event is exactly what we as a community have been yearning to get behind for years. Whether you are Asian or not. To send a message to the world. It is not "just" a movie. What hinges on the release is so much larger than the film itself.
The power of cinema is colossal. Whether you realize it or not, billions of people shape their outlooks on life from what they see on film. Their beliefs. What is important in life. Differences between right and wrong. And when the world is exposed to the clich�d images of Asians that currently occupy the screen, these images subconsciously encapsulate for them what Asian people are. The martial-artists practitoners. The nerdy students. The exotic sexual prizes. The guy that delivers the food to your door. And it becomes a self-fueling process because audiences continue to pay admission to see them. While unfortunately, these are the only roles that are available for Asian actors to portray.
Fans of "BLT" and major film critics have all praised the film for being an accomplished and engaging universal story centered on teen violence. The film is not a judgmental piece of the actions, but a narrative of how real life teen violence is set in motion. The film represents stories from headlines that we've all read that just happen to be told by Asian actors.
"Best and most provocative--a funny-sexy-scary powerhouse."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Magazine
"Extraordinarily accomplished and thought-provoking."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Stylish and very well acted."
- David Ansen, Newsweek
"The hottest, most stylish and smartly twisted film."
- Duane Bygre, The Hollywood Reporter
"A damn fine movie."
- Harry Knowles, Ain't it Cool News
Phrases, such as how the film "broke all the rules in Hollywood" and "after the first 5 minutes, I forgot that the cast was Asian" are repeated over and over again. For the first time, our true voices are being heard and understood by the Hollywood decision makers. That we're just regular people and we too, have stories that all human beings can relate to. Where we don't have to go around everyday, basically saying, "Hey, I'm Asian" through our actions depicted on screen.
MTV Films' vice president, Michael Cole summed it up best, "You've got a universal story in terms of what these guys are experiencing, and I think that's why people respond to it so strongly. It's told from a perspective that we haven't seen before and that we often don't see." He observes, "I thought ["BLT"] was incredible for our brand and for our audience. When I saw the movie I just said: 'You know, we really need to buy this movie. This movie is what we are.'"
I, as do MTV Films and other studios that bid for the film, recognize that the film is on the cusp of a new beginning in cinema that has yet to be tapped into. Everywhere we've traveled across the country (and Canada) with the film at festivals, Asian audiences thank us for giving them a new voice on screen for the world to see.
But this film needs a base -- legs to help it rise and be heard. And your voice can only be heard through the box office. Let's be frank, for the first few weeks, a majority of the people that will be open to seeing the film, based on face value alone, will be Asian Americans. When non-Asian people see images of the film or the cast, occasionally we hear them ask, "Is it subtitled?" or "Is it like a Jackie Chan movie?"
When I hear those comments, I realize they're not intentionally meant to be malicious, but it goes to show what has been established in the minds of the public when they see Asian faces on a movie poster. And it's that mentality which illustrates the very reason why we need to support good films with Asian casts; whether we agree with the films or not.
I know in my heart that we as a community are large enough of an audience to overwhelm Hollywood; make them do a double take and realize there is a market they have not been catering to. Hollywood's eyes will be tracking the opening of the film very carefully because it loves a trend. So we beat them at their own game--make it impossible for them to ignore the numbers. They will be forced to make similiar projects based solely on a fiscal point of view. They'll jump on that bandwagon to repeat a successful formula that has been established by "BLT." But this will only happen if we want it to by coming out in full force.
In turn, three-dimensional Asian characters that audiences genuinely care about as people and not just as functional props, will emerge and slowly change narrow Asian perceptions. The Black community's current successes in cinema stemmed 20 years ago because they were passionate about the films Spike Lee and John Singleton were making. Films that were true to their communities. Hollywood took notice to the box office numbers and it led to more projects which told of the African American experience besides being a slave or living in the ghettos.
For the past decade, my schooling and acting has exposed me to hundreds of Asian American organizations at colleges across the country. I've been witness to sooo many China Nights, Asian club meetings, ECASU, ACAASU, APEX conferences, panels by Amy Tan, Ronald Takaki, Jude Narita all discussing and theorizing the same topics of assimilation and perceptions--all those years have finally culminated into something tangible: This is that "something" we can get behind and will have a huge impact. And it's a very simple thing to do-- just see the film. That is your vote. Tell people about it and have them do the same.
April 11th 2003, BLT will open in:
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco
The following week, it will expand into:
Washington D.C., Boston, Houston, Honolulu, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis
You should be seeing MTV FILMS running our trailer in theatres and playing them on their channel shortly. Based on the box office attendance after the first 3 weekends, the studio will then see if it is worth rolling out into more theatres across the country, the same way "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" did. Once it rolls out nationally, others unlikely to see the film will have then heard the buzz/acclaim and go to just see a good movie. And they will tell others and so on.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that as many people see the film during those first 3 weekends to get the momentum going. If you do not happen to reside in the initial cities, spread the word to those you know who do live there. And with a bit of luck, it will make its way to your hometown after week 3. If the "I'll wait to watch it next week" mentality occurs with this film, chances are there won't be a next week. Every person helps.
Since this is an unprecedented film, I can see it doing great things in terms of changing the way America thinks and opening doors for similar projects. But unfortunately, I can also see it easily just dying and going away if we allow it, just like we did with Margaret Cho's "All American Girl."
Many planets have aligned for a project with Asian-American lead characters to come this far, and if this opportunity slips away, you can be certain it won't happen again for a long, long time. As I said before, Hollywood loves to jump on a successful formula but it will stay away from a scarcely attended "Pluto Nash" like the plague. If you've read this far, I sincerely thank you for your time. Please pass this letter on to inform others. It's an exciting time for us all. Let's keep the momentum going!
"Ben" in "Better Luck Tomorrow"
Visit www.betterlucktomorrow.com or www.parryshen.com for more details on the film and how to help.
Thanks to AngryAsianMan.com and BetterLuckTomorrow.com for the news.
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Sunday went by quick. I was at Shiv and Kristie's house for an Oscar-watching party, but I think I was more interested in eating dinner than anything else... mmm, potluck...
Eminem won an Oscar for "Best Song". I sense the end of the world drawing near. Haha.
The war is starting to get messy. Can't say I'm too surprised, since the US is now getting closer and closer to Baghdad. Already, there are reports of suicide units engaging US forces known as "Fedayeen Saddam" or "Martyrs for Saddam".
Iraq has taken POWs and put them on public display on Iraqi national TV, in some messed up effort to salvage some pride from this one-sided conflict. One of the POWs is Filipino American; his poor mother found out he was captured from images broadcasted on a Filipino news station... the CNN interview with her.
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Saturday, March 22, 2003
Been a long day...
Lesson went aight. I'm glad I don't have to write anymore for awhile, because I don't think I'll ever be completely comfortable as a public speaker. I'm just not very good at it. Then again these days, the rating of "good" could hardly be applied to my aptitude at most anything.
I had a weird little moment today.
It was while I was buying some takeout at my favorite local (and only decent) teriyaki joint, Miako's. I went inside, placed an order, then went back to my car so I could take it to the gas station and gas it up while they were making my order. I'm driving through the parking lot to the gas station, when I roll by Safeway and I see an employee pushing a line of carts toward the store. He's minding his own business, concentrating at the task at hand, but I see his face.
I recognize the guy... went to high school with him and I hadn't seem him since until now. I didn't know him that well, wasn't friends with him, but I had a couple of classes with him and he always seemed like a smart person, one of those nice guys that is remarkable for being unremarkable. Last I heard, he was going to go to the UW just like me... but here I see him now, wearing a clerk's apron and pushing Slaveway grocery store carts.
I wondered if he was doing what he really wanted to do, working as a clerk. Or if somehow, by some act of God or malicious circumstance, his hopes and dreams were set fire to and he was stuck back here, in the wasteland of ghetto Renton / Kent, to sort out the ashes. My eyes could see the lines of age on his face as he passed in front of my car... I slowed down and braked a healthy distance away. We made eye contact and he gave me an appreciate nod before he continued on his task of pushing the line of carts into the store. I don't think he recognized me. My hair was considerably longer and stupid-er in high school. And my eyes were less old.
But maybe when I looked at him, I was looking at piece of myself. What's the measure of a meaningful life, a significant existance? I'm not as sure of the answer as I once was.
The price of gas sucked donkey nuts. But at least the chicken katsu was tasty as always.
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The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, yes he was
Oh, yes he was...
Write, sonnuvapreachaman, write!
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Friday, March 21, 2003
Waiting for rendering sucks...
I need to hotrod my work comp somehow with additional RAM-age... =P
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To the east and back...
Well, Chong and I went to Kirkland on the Eastside to film King's Fools at the Generation Church conference. It turns out the concert started a little bit earlier than we anticipated, but luckily, I had made a last minute check of the City Church website and found it started at 5:00pm instead of the time I originally thought, 6:00pm.
Filming went well for the most part, though there were a couple of minor incidents that got us off on the wrong foot. First, we made a wrong turn on the way to the church and ended up in downtown Kirkland before we figured we were heading too far west instead of east. That actually wasn't that bad... even with the wrong turn, we ended up at the church at around 4:30pm, plenty of time to check in with the band, case the area, and look for good angles to shoot from. We get to the sanctuary, but the doors are of course closed during soundcheck with City Church ushers - maybe college age, but probably high schoolers - watching the doors.
So what was the problem you might ask? They refused to let us into the sanctuary!
1) I explain that Chong and I are here to film the band and that the band ITSELF has asked to come film them. I might add that I'm explaining things in an extra nice tone of voice, 1000x more gentle and accommodating than normal Garrett.
2) Chong and I are both Asian. King's Fools are all Asian. King's Fools roadies / soundcrew are all Asian. But 99% of the kids / staff I see walking around us in the Generation Church: WHITE. I would think it's obvious that I'm a visitor.
3) Chong and I are plainly carrying a VIDEO CAMERA, equipment, and bags. If this were a secular concert (like your standard pop-rock show or something), I could understand, because they never let you tape those. But this is a CHURCH EVENT. Also, refer to 1).
I made every effort to try and accommodate them. I asked the ushers to page the band or send someone into the sanctuary to grab one of the band members to come personally get us at the door to prove we were with the band... but no go. I ask to speak to someone in charge... I get a run-around on how they "don't see so and so around". Finally, a much wiser and kinder higher-up walked by and noticed us waiting by the door and asked what the problem was. She talked to me, took one look at Chong and I, and made the ushers get outta of our way. Sheesh... we were waiting for almost 20 minutes to get in.
I have no evidence to outright accuse people and say they're racist, but my nostrils could smell the stink of ignorance. I looked into their eyes and I see that familar look that I've had to deal with on and off my whole life with non-Asian people. Their entire body posture, tone of voice - crossed arms, and unfriendly. I could sense their suspicion, their bias, their fear as plainly as if they were wearing an A&F Wong Bros. t-shirt. I ask to simply walk into the sanctuary or talk to somebody in charge; they look at me like I've asked to devour a small child with my bare hands.
Why is it white middle America can be so damned prejudiced, EVEN in the house of God? Ignorance... it's disappointing and it's sad. So much for Generation Church showing love to a baldheaded Chinaman.
I think I'd be more irritated at the whole thing if it wasn't for the fact that I really wanted to put it behind me and focus on getting some good footage for the project for King's Fools. I also tried to remind myself of last weekend's events at CBC, which more than anything, highlighted the weakness of even Godly people. After all, just because a person is a Christian doesn't mean they instantly morph into a perfect person. Imperfection is a defining part of humanity, and being that any person of faith is human, flaws are to be expected.
But yeah... incidents like this remind me of the whole reason ethnic churches continue to flourish here in America. The journey toward knowing God better and growing in faith is complicated enough at times; throwing in the issue of race makes things infinitely more difficult. People of color, especially Asian Americans, deal with this kind of behavior all the time - this ignorant mistrust, this treatment of us as aliens in our own native land.
White Americans complain that Black churches, Chinese churches, Korean churches, etc. are insular organizations - and they are - but only because the ignorance of white America, the gross indignities of its past, and a present unwillingness of it accept responsibility for dealing with them have created and sustained the existance of ethnic churches. Simply put, people of color would rather attend a church of their own creation where they feel welcome than often attend a church where they will have to struggle with the ignorance of others along with the usual battles of faith.
I put no limits on the sovereign power of the Lord to span the racial divide in this country, but I've yet to see a truly multicultural congregation that was founded by what Pastor Wayne referred to once rather whimsically as the proverbial BWC (Big White Church). While their heart to spread the gospel may be sincere, White churches seem too often to follow into the trap of tokenizing believers of color ("Oh yeah, we have Johnny, he's Korean and Dan, he's Black... sure they're the only non-white people here, but hey... we're multi-cultural! We understand colored people!") or insisting upon a kind of pseudo culture that proclaims to be Christian when in reality, it is enshrined white American cultural norms ("Yeah, all our ministries and services are in English and a lot of our new members from the community are primarily Spanish speakers, but it should be that way! Christ demands unity, they should learn English! Having translators and Spanish materials is too much trouble.").
I believe multicultural / emerging churches usually need to founded under a different kind of paradigm - not simply for the sake of difference, but because these different paradigms are often championed by passionate followers of Christ. Example of a different paradigm of several great multicultural churches I know - Asian American leadership (who woulda thunk, eh?). Jubilee for example, based in the U-District and the Eastside, was founded by a strong core of Korean American believers, but now has a congregation that is much more diverse - other Asian ethnicities as well as white. Or take Lighthouse, an eastside church founded by Pastor Wayne Ogimachi, a Japanese American whose God-given talent for preaching has attract a multi-ethnic and multi-generational audience.
Anyways, enough sermonizing. See what one stupid little incident incites me to write? Imagine if they made me and Chong late by an hour instead of 20 minutes. I'd be churning out whole novels on this topic of race, faith, and the Church. Ha.
Random War in Iraq note:
CNN.com has some interesting information on their site, especially if you're a history buff like me. They have page of detailed information on the vehicles and equipment in use in by both Allied forces and Iraq. They even have some sexy 3-D models of those fighter jets you always dreamed of flying in as a kid. Nifty.
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Thursday, March 20, 2003
Half-awake and hungry...
Work is busy, but nice. There's some unexpected benefits to working in a museum in the middle of Chinatown... I feel very comfortable, at ease.
Chong and I are filming are friends the King's Fools for a video project / press kit for them tonight. They're doing a concert for a local church conference and we thought it'd be a good photo-op to catch them in action. Either that or they wanted Asian back-up... hahaha. Should be fun mixing more work and play.
My life is now the life of a guerilla videographer...
And oh yeah, there's war right now. I'm not for it or against it, I just hope it ends soon, and ends decisively with Uncle Saddam sent to a prison / exile. A special prayer goes out to the men & women of the American armed forces, as well as to their families back home. I honor your sacrifices. Another prayer also goes to the innocent civilians of Iraq... the blood of innocent people is precious to God. May He guard them until this storm has passed.
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"Fencing is combat. You go up against another person, and the only reason you are there is to mess them up. The time interval when you have a person controlling that weapon, that person controls that weapon every millisecond. You have to be strong psychologically, strong emotionally. You have to be brave. You need to be physically strong and have good balance. Mentally you have to be very, very quick.
The toughest part about transitioning into a top-notch fencer is facing reality and getting rid of denial. I approach fencing by not giving myself any excuses. It is a sport where if you were to approach it like combat, you're going to get killed if you say you don't feel well today. The other guy is going to try to ruin your day. Your job is to do everything you can to keep that from happening.
The most memorable stuff is not about the medals... they are things to show my kids. The thing that I feel most proud of is me being able to control myself in intense situations and overcoming fear and anxiety."
-Wang Yung, as interviewed by Joe Kaiser in Northwest Asian Weekly, July 21, 2001
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Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Busy, busy, busy day...
Today definitely was a loooong day. I don't think since last year at my old school job, I've worked anything even remotely close to a 7+ hour shift... so it was a big adjustment. I was shooting to get into the museum at about 10:00am, but I didn't get in until 11:00am. I didn't get off work 6:30pm, aiyah.
I keep forgetting this fasting thing saps my body of energy... maybe that heightens my sense of the day being long.
Anyways, I spent the entire first hour of work playing scavenger man, sticking my nose in and out the piles of equipment in the storage area looking for the proper cords to connect the Sony DV cam and a VCR console to the computer I'll be working on. I succeeded in finding the FireWire cord for the cam; no luck on the VCR hook-ups, though. The next 2 hours was equaling agonizing as I tried to capture footage off the cam to the computer... a combination of bad drivers and accursed Windows ME (bleh) made that an excruciating task. Finally, around 2:00, I was up and ripping footage, thanks to some luck fiddling with the control prefs and downloading some new drivers.
Around 5:00, my co-worker and I headed to a fencing club to film and interview Wang Yung, a Chinese American on the US Fencing team. Watching him spar and explain different things about the sport of fencing was cool (specifically saber), but the highlight of my day was actually getting to try some myself! He invited me to suit up in some gear after hearing I did kendo, so I got to dress up and spar with one of his students.
The sword definitely moves a lot faster than in kendo, and the hits are a lot more frequent since any touch to the head / upper body / arms is considered a point - the target areas in kendo are much more precise. The jacket you wear definitely takes getting used to, since it's just one giant sensor... at little bit stiffer than I thought it'd be, plus you're teethered to a wire on your back like a human yo-yo. Also, the helmet is lighter, but looking through mesh is quite a bit different than looking through the grill of my kendo men helmet.
My sparring partner went pretty easy on me at first, but after I started scoring points, he turned up the heat noticeably. At one point, I got 3 points in a row, using a parry and combo counter I use in kendo, heh heh - I think that surprised him, since I'm sure it's definitely not a move you'd see in European fencing. It's probably not good form at all, hahaha. My footwork was off... the stance is very different than kendo, though the principle of lunging off your left foot is the same, sorta. But yeah, trying it out... a lot of fun. Turns out the guy I was sparring with represents Taiwan in world competition and he's ranked in the top 25 in the world... cool.
Mentally though, fencing was no different than kendo... sure, the equipment and rules are different, but the most essential elements, one versus one, sword to sword, will against will... it's the same. The brotherhood of martial artists.... long live the fighters! (haha, yeah... corny Dune reference)
We finished wrapping up filming around 6:30. I dropped off my co-worker back at his home and then went straight to bible study. Afterwards, I finally came back home at 10:30pm, where I had my first meal... leftover wonton-mein. Yum.
Busy, busy day... tomorrow will be similar.
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Learning to love the simple things is easy.
Learning to be satisfied with just the simple things... that's tough.
Sometimes, I feel like just a fish in an extremely small tank, banging my head against the glass of these boundaries that are in front of me that I can't see, only feel. Hope seems to wait on the otherside... if I only I can smash my way through. Instead, all this banging my head against the things that hold me back just leaves me more confused, less sure of myself, and a whole lot more stupid than I thought possible. Thanks, life.
So I think I've been playing too much Insaniquarium from PopCap Games. It's a simple, stupid little game... but it's so much fun, heh. Ah, if only the vast complexity of life could be reduced to winning at a mere game...
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Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Sometimes I think I'm going crazy...
...but then, there's music.
Been listening to a lot of jazz radio while I've been driving lately. Anti-road rage medicine.
At home, the new Nas (God's Son) and the new Mountain Brothers (Triple Crown) have been holding me steady. Also, I got this free "DJ E-Love" CD with my Mountain Brothers purchase, and that's not too bad either... hip.hop.is.in.the.heart.
Damn, I really should start writing my next lesson for this Saturday... the potential busy-ness of the rest of the week is the proverbial Sword of Damocles dangling over my head...
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Enjoy your potent potables...Happy Late St. Patrick's Day.
In honor of all the Irish contributions to our fair country, here's some Danny Boy (right-click save target as)... even though according to this article, some Irish folks dislike the tune. Oh well... people who love the current vogue of Irish accents (read: girls:Colin Farrell) will eat the song up.
In other Irish news: do you have a craving (or sick curiousity) for Irish punk-folk music?
Yeah, you read that correctly... IRISH PUNK FOLK. Search no further... the Irish Canadian band Siobhan is here to satisfy you! I recommend "The Celtbot" for maximum offense on your aural senses. Download it at your own risk... or if you need another reason to look at our northern neighbors with disgust.
And yes, I derive a great deal of amusement knowing that my girlfriend shares a name with such a weird band. Heh.
Man, 1:30 AM in the morning and suddenly this has become Irish central!?!?!
Aiyah, back to more Asiatic news...
AngryAsianMan.com recently posted an article about the growing interracial marriage gender gap. The article's findings are based on the solid numbers from the 2000 census.
Some interesting bits:
Like most guys, Asian-American men are fairly reticent about admitting any frustrations in the mating game. But the news for them was even worse. Asian women had white husbands 3.08 times more often than Asian men had white wives. That means just over 75 percent of white-Asian couples featured a white husband and Asian wife.
That 3.08 ratio is up from 2.54 times in 1990...
Although the bitterness that some black women feel over intermarriage is well known, the imbalance rests even more heavily on Asian-American men. For every 1,000 Asian women with husbands, only 860 Asian men had wives, leaving a large number of Asian bachelors left over...
Looking at it another way, 18 percent of Asian wives have white husbands...
To all my Asian American brothers out there on the look-out for a strong sista to grow old with: I feel your pain. I consider myself a very blessed person to be with the girl I'm with.
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Monday, March 17, 2003
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Everyone. Me, you, family, friends, and yes... even pastors.
Or Rev. Leung better put it:
"Do you think you're stronger than Samson? Or that you love God more than David did? Or that you're more clever than Solomon was?"
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Sunday, March 16, 2003
Jimmy Fallon is a musical genius.
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Saturday, March 15, 2003
Gave my lesson tonight. I think it went aight... I think my talent for public speaking is limited to just sarcasm and irony.
Lucky for me, the Bible is often filled with irony. Plenty of material.
Better get cracking on next weeks lesson...
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Well, the morning tournament didn't impede my writing progress... I'm finally finished with my lesson.
Hope tonight goes well...
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Friday, March 14, 2003
PRODUCTIVITY IS RELATIVE
I should get that made into a poster and hang it on my wall.
So I went to the post office today and to the bank... the nice thing about being out and about during odd hours is that I don't have to fight traffic. Nobody else is around, so I'm free to run my errands un-impeded.
I've finally started hacking away at my lesson, cranking out an outline and synopsis of the text. Hopefully I'll finish the meat of it tonight, and tomorrow, after the tournament, I'll make the Powerpoint slides.
Back to work. At least I get to eat in about a half-hour.
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Since I have nothing good to say at the moment... I'll let somebody who does. Read what my homie Justin has written and educate your mind.
Fading the Yellow: Adopting Asians into Caucasian American Families
Far from the romantic tale of being saved from psychological instability by an upstanding American family, the issue of adopting Asians into white American homes is sullied by an abysmal assortment of flaws. Questions on the reasons for being given up and who his birth parents are, as well as the issues of abandonment, feeling unwanted, and fear of committing to others are commonplace in all adoptive households. There is little consideration given to achieving racial balance between white and Asian. Sandra Patton, in BirthMarks, is one of the few authors who ruminates on this issue:
We are not defined solely by either our genetic heritage, nor by our culture and environment. Rather, like everyone else living in the complex, globalized, socially stratified United States today, adoptees' identities are intricately constructed and reconstructed by our biological histories, the various cultural meaning systems we encounter, and our interaction with public policies and social institutions. (15-16)
Yet some white American families ignore their adopted children's origins and thus do not construct them with the aid of such biological histories.
This cannot persist. Powered by American ethnocentrism, it is a discrete form of assimilation into white American culture and a silent, unconscious disapproval of plurality and diversity, both of which supposedly being ideals on which our country functions (Treacher and Katz 102).
It is a segue for instances in which an Asian American adoptee undergoes an identity crisis and makes sweeping changes in his lifestyle to accommodate the Asian traits. If adoption is done correctly, no ethnic-conscious adoptee should be forced to suffer the pangs of years of achieving cultural balance on his own. No one should endure what I did.
The Struggle for Reclamation
A serene, parent-engineered conception of adoption can only hold its grasp over an Asian child until he is exposed to an environment with a relatively high Asian population. It is in these areas where the adoptee begins to see, although he may share the common ethnic link with his peers, that he is culturally not of the same brood. Prolonged interaction with fellow Asians will invoke the very insecurities that haunt adoptees and drive them to immerse themselves in their ethnic roots.
For me, the process began on a superficial level. I scavenged the mall for the designs Asians wore and I snagged a jade pennant with gold Chinese characters on the front. The latter was obviously marketed cleverly by the Chinese for Asian fetishists who actively subscribe to the exoticism and mystique of Asian characters and their "deep, intrinsic meanings." Having my Asian roots excluded from my life, this was never apparent to me.
My angst manifested itself further when I did everything possible to disassociate myself with my family in public areas. My 15-foot distance, silence, and refusal to address them by their familial titles were how I accomplished this. I cringed every time one of my relatives called my name and thus acknowledged my affiliation with them and depreciated my own constructed idea of "Korean-ness" in front of passers by. To be seen with them was a threat to my right to call myself Korean.
Interrogative sessions harbor the typically rhetorical questions that are asked only to suggest fault on the parents. In a fit of betrayal, I blamed my ignorance to Korean culture and language on my family. I blamed them for not enrolling me in a language school on the weekends. I blamed them for not stressing to me the importance of one's ethnic origins. With nothing to quell my argument, my grandmother scolded me in a way that only frustrated me. "If you want to be Asian, you better start giving me some God damn respect because in Asia, children respect their elders!" But my anger and sense of betrayal overpowered my will to respect the people who raised a white boy out of me.
My search for the cultural balance continued with my affinity for Korean music, which is still alive today. My Korean friends are dumbfounded when I list the album discography for Drunken Tiger or the dates and events surrounding the break-up of popular groups (an all too common trend in the Korean music industry). Fanaticism would not be the best way to classify this obsession. Rather, it's more of a simple, fun medium through which I can recover some traces of my Korean identity, hence the stalker-esque knowledge.
Discussions on my country and people beg for my participation as if I was raised amongst my own. The Korean infatuation with PC games, plastic surgery, drinking traditions, obsession with aestheticism, power of taekwondo, and the political climate are standard fare in the roundtable sessions I find myself in.
These Korean friends with whom I share discourses with are not of bonds formed from my early childhood. (Perish the thought that my family would ever introduce me to a Korean.) If the desperation to alter my identity has not been clearly conveyed as of now, perhaps the confession of using AsainAvenue.com, an online Asian American community, to meet Koreans will. It was through AA that I met people who knew others and the ties multiplied all throughout the 253 and 425 area codes. (Reader may insert degrading quip for "internet loser" here: _________________.)
Without this network, I would not have the support I need to facilitate my assimilation with Korean culture. My search thrives on the enlightenment and teaching of Korean society and politics and the fusion of Korean words into everyday English. I've absorbed the tendencies and knowledge to such an extent that my friends refer to me as the "most Asian adoptee" they know.
I have acquired a greater sense of truth and a more prideful stance on my Korean identity. I am more suspicious of any covet racism I sense being aimed at my own. I am quick to cry foul when an Asian stereotype is fed to mainstream audiences for white American profit. I am learning the behaviors and generalizations of my people and the validity and absurdity in all. I have a greater understanding of my intended role in this stratified society called the United States of America.
However, knowing that I do not speak Korean fluently nor have a nearly complete understanding of Korean culture, I still continue onward. I'm practically in a position of refusing to forgive my family for what they have done, for I like other adoptees, have endured years of psychological torment finding my identity as consequence of what I was bought into (Patton 70). No Asian adoptee in a white American household should be deprived of his heritage because those who discover their inadequacy will suffer trying to alter themselves.
Happiness of uniqueness eventually descends to disenfranchisement. The socially constructed, sentimental tale of individuality published in textbooks for the adoptive parent is replaced by a plague of misguided anger, confusion, and ostracization. Once at the height of this angst, no parental soothing like "We wanted you to have a better life in America" can stand as an apology for the cultural deprivation that the adoptee was desensitized into willfully accepting.
Still a Speck of Yellow
The adoptees who are confronted on the issue of assimilation into whiteness and still gladly declare allegiance to their American culture underestimate the importance of their Asian halves. Not realizing the potential growth and maturity in having two cultural perspectives, these children manifest their American ignorance by writing off their own Asian culture as strange, foreign, and ultimately not theirs. Hangul is suddenly the Chinese alphabet. Kimchi is suddenly a Japanese delicacy. The "all look alike" stigma ascends to a grander level of normalcy and commonality.
Although it is taboo to diverge with what one's parents have taught them, it is necessary in the instance that an Asian adoptee is denied the immersion into his origins. The white parents, raised to think that racism was eradicated by the civil rights movement and that the U.S. is a "color-blind" society will raise him to be a white American incognizant to racism (Patton 70). His mind will be polluted with convoluted ideals like individual meritocracy being the sole determinant in one's success. His conception of an Asian American will be a martial arts master who flirts with the borders between human and primate, masculine and feminine, when his typified windmill arm movements and high-pitched "Hai-ya!" are integrated into the trendiest Saturday morning cartoon in circulation. Stereotypes will be all that the child knows of his own race and he will distance himself from them, claiming to be a superior exception that does not possess their socially constructed, trademark flaws (Patton 69).
Further distancing himself, he may even conform to the white standards of aestheticism and be disgusted with his own appearance (Feigelman and Silverman 167). If so, he will want blonde hair, blue eyes, and folded eyelids.
The child will unknowingly subscribe to the set of unearned advantages that a white American has over ethnic minorities, advantages that a white American is taught to accept as normal and thus be oblivious to (Patton 68). But he will be cruelly reminded of his ethnicity when he is paid less than his white counterpart in the workplace and a swarm of white children surround him and scream, "Ching chang chong!" He will wonder why he has not been accepted by the people he thought he was part of. The answer will lie in his different hue of melanin, the epicanthic fold of his eyelids, and his diminutive physical stature. His subsequent attempts to connect with his Asian half will be thwarted when interrogated on his sparse knowledge of his ethnic tongue. They will not claim him as one of their own because he so willingly sided with his whiteness. He will issue forth excuses for not attempting to embrace his Asian background arguing that he's been raised one way and does not want to traverse the arduous journey of change and readjustment. He will never acknowledge the ethnicity that inhibits his progress in the United States because he is predisposed to instinctively feign whiteness, all the while remaining an Asia-ignorant fool unconsciously upholding a notion of white superiority that does not apply to him. No change is sought, and therefore no resolution found.
I've witnessed these adoptees who are so sickeningly comfortable in their faux white skin. Two are in my own family. They have no pulse on the behavior and society of their ethnic group. They don't know the trademark physical features that distinguish one Asian ethnicity from another. The ultimate blow is their failure to recall their original name when asked. So heavily pinned to their whiteness are they that they regard their given names as insignificant and meaningless. It is through these indicators that I sense their apathy and indifference to the skin under which they are born.
The teachings of this American Ethnic Studies class have fueled a greater distrust of American government within me and an inclination to scrutinize every one of their actions almost as if they were conspiring. I sometimes can't help but believe the idea of adopting Asians into white American homes was a grand scheme orchestrated by our own government to acquire the unwavering allegiance of more ethnic minorities, all the while returning the favor with neoracist, institutional inhibitors. In theory, it most certainly is not. In practice, however, the growing number of Asian adoptees with no devotion to their cultural origins supports the validity in my seemingly radical claim.
As a Korean American adoptee, it is important to clarify that I do not oppose adoption of Asians into white American families. I am far better off than the average abandoned child who must live a life of bouncing from foster home to foster home and never realizing the possibilities of a close-knit group giving forth its love and protection. Everyday, I am grateful for the necessities that my family has provided me with. But if an adoption of an Asian child into a white American family is to be performed, it must be done correctly. The child's ethnic origins cannot be compromised for the dominant Anglo Saxon culture. "Whites need to learn how to decenter Whiteness as normal, as generically human, and above all, as innocent" (Patton 75). Equal importance must be given to both cultures in order to rear a child who will grow to have dual perspectives that will reduce the chances of bias, racism, prejudice, discrimination, and offending others in both his actions and his words. He will challenge otherwise acceptable forms of racism directed at his race and formulate a positive conception of himself (Patton 71). Making him cognizant and proud of both heritages will also prevent the catastrophic disappointment of finding that he cannot benefit from white privilege and ease his adjustment into accepting his adoptive life (Feigelman and Silverman 168). He will know his role as an Asian American in Caucasian-dominated America that he is not to set his sights on too lofty a goal because his physical appearance will work against him. Through this immersion, parents of the adoptee will grow to respect his culture and they will diversify their views, perhaps destroying prejudices (Patton 70). The sappy stories of an Asian's arrival in the States and the happy life he was given can only be true in the instances that the parents both adopt and adapt.
Feigelman, William, and Arnold R. Silverman. Chosen Children: New Patterns of Adoptive Relationships. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1983.
Patton, Sandra. BirthMarks Transrational Adoption in Contemporary America. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
Treacher, Amal, and Ilan Katz. The Dynamics of Adoption: Social and Personal Perspectives. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2000.
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Countdown to the deadline...
10... 9... 8...
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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Most people aren't awake at 5:30 AM in the morning.
But then again, most people aren't abstaining from eating any sort of food during daylight hours. =/
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Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Where did I put that book... hrmmm...
Man, I'm totally not feeling like sharing this Saturday... I've got serious mental constipation.
This lesson is not coming out...
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Tuesday, March 11, 2003
People always seem to ask me about it... like I'm some expert on the morality of war or something, HA. A funny cartoon that I think sums up the issue. Damned if we do, damned if we don't.
It's not as simple as peace activists would like you to think it is. And it's not as simple as our government would like you to think it is.
Refer to January 18th.
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Random internet compliment of the day:
Keep up what ur doing, you inspire ppl! :)
I guess it's always nice... to hear something, well, nice...
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I finally unwrapped and checked my smashed big toe that I got from last week's kendo practice before I took a shower today. I was dreading the worst, but it doesn't look too bad.
OK, it is bad.
Like I thought, it's GG toenail... and the skin, besides the dried crusts of blood, has an interesting shade of brusied blue, purple and red. If I had a digicam, I'd take pictures to document that nastiness. I'll give it another check in 2 days... if it isn't better than, I might have to drop some scrilla to see a doc. Doh.
Monkey piss. I was hoping the toe would heal better for this weekend's tournament, but oh well. My sensei would be pissed if I bailed now, so I guess it's "drunken gimp-styleee" fighting for me. Bah, without good foot movement, I'm gonna be fighting some really SHORT matches. =P
Off to work.
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Some pics my uncle took during his visit...
My ghetto Nissan, Audrey (GF insists that all cars have names). And no, I didn't make the big dent... it was like that when I bought it. My uncle helped my car a lot by helping teach me some maintainence stuffs for it.
Close-up to me making a funny face because of the squeaky breaks.
My Mom (on right) at the Ballard Locks
My sister at Kiku's, eating lunch with me and uncle. Stay the hell away from her, heh.
My girl and I on our way with the rest of the fam to cousin Johnny's house for dessert. I demonstrate my response for eating fruity kinds of chocolate.
Cousin Johnny... Microsoft code monkey extraordinaire!
Me and Shiv... I'm making a fishy face...
The 3 of us chillin' at Johnny's house... my sister, me, Shiv
Full stomach make Gar sleepy...
My uncle reading tech magazine... go uncle go.
(edit: more dial-up friendly)
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Monday, March 10, 2003
I didn't expect to have to go work today, but I did... sorta.
I got a late night e-mail from George, the museum assistant that I'm working with for the project about going out today to film an interview. I got to the museum at 1:15pm, but it turns out our interviewee had to cancel at last minute for a family emergency.
Normally, I'd be annoyed at having to drive to Chinatown for nothing... I wasn't though. God I suppose had a way of making the trip worthwhile, as I had forgotten to give Cassie (my fellow BASIC counselor and the friend who helped me get this temp job) a flyer template this past Sunday, so since she was at the museum, I gave it to her today.
Tomorrow should be busy too... filming a tennis club and kendo practice, which almost wraps up the filming portion of the project. Then, it'll be on to hardcore editing. Wheee...
Busy busy... looks like I'll actually have to be responsible for my time this week.
I'm giving the lesson both this week and next week to the high school kiddies at BASIC, so it's time to start researching, reading, writing, and making Powerpoint slides. Luckily, the topics aren't too obscure... this week will be on the significance of Jesus washing his disciples' feet; next week will be on the significance of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The more obscure the passage, the harder it is to write a lesson to communicate its significance.This past Sunday, poor Dave had to give a whole sermon in service on a passage in 1 John on "testing the spirits", and whose only "famous" verse is 1 John 4:4 .
Also, I guess the nice thing about giving a message in the fellowship setting vs. a sermon in a service is I have the freedom to be a little bit more conversational... and of course... LENGTH. I think my ideal range for these lessons is 15-20 minutes. Giving long talks is something I don't think I'll ever be good at, heh heh. =)
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Past few days have been pretty wet... it's really coming down. Besides the freak snow on Friday, every day has had constant drizzle more or less. The clouds hang overhead, in all their shades of gray, and they seem to help swallow up my days as much as my funny sleeping patterns.
I like hearing rain, it helps me sleep.
Anyways, Sunday was a long day, especially with the fasting. Being up since 8:00AM for choir and church meant I had to pretty much endure almost 11 hours of no eating and just water / juice / tea. By the time it was noon, my stomach was already ferociously growling.
I left church straight after first service to go pick up Siobhan and Helen from their LA trip. I stopped by home first so I could check their flight status on the web; as I expected the flight was slightly delayed by at least a half-hour. So I set an alarm clock on my computer, and sacked out on the couch to take a quick nap. The airport was a zoo, but I was somehow able to get in and out without much of a problem.
Shiv and I wanted to stop by CBC's 3rd service since Dave was giving the sermon this week, so we drove straight from the airport to drop off Helen and head to church. We were only able to catch about the last 15-20 minutes of his message, though. Oh well.
We went back to my house, just watched TV some more, ate dinner with my Mom. Mom made a tasty sesame noodle salad with stir-fried shrimp since Shiv is fasting from beef/poultry/pork for Lent. Took a nap on the couch again after dinner while Shiv watched a movie...
Yeah, long days...
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Sunday, March 09, 2003
Gnawing doubt, buried scars, and hunger, I hate you.
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Saturday, March 08, 2003
I just remembered, I gotta go to the airport tomorrow. Picking up Shiv and Helen.
Xanga is the devil. The new Asian Avenue. I made an account just to sign people's guestbooks, but that's it. I'm steering waaaaaay clear.
Lord, save me the from AZN kiddies wHo TyPe LiKE diS wiT dERE L33t skiLLz. =P
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Past few days have been strange... I'm losing track of the hours and minutes of it all.
I wonder if all this fasting is doing strange things to my body... heh. Maybe it's grown a little too fond of food during all this down time.
I actually had work today... went out and did some filming of some local girls' basketball. A bit of a trek, though... had to drive down to Chinatown to stop by the museum and pick up the camera. Then I had to drive back down south to Beacon Hill to go to the Rainier Community Center, where the game was at. Finished that, came hope, and took a nap before BASIC... was dead tired.
Yeah, the word for these past few weeks is tired... not physically tired. That's easy to deal with.
Now spiritually, mentally, and emotionally tired... a tougher mountain to climb.
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Friday, March 07, 2003
there's snow outside.
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A rough approximation of my life. Just replace the Korean "aigoo" with an obnoxious Chinese "aiyah".
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Thursday, March 06, 2003
I'm eating my first meal of the day right now.
I've been thinking a lot about what I should be fasting for Lent and I decided to give up eating during all daylight hours. Water / juice / tea are the only things I'm going to allow myself to have. And yes, I know it's similar to the Muslim observance of Ramadan. It's been awhile since I've fasted this serious. Usually during Lent, I give up something like soda or candy. The longest I've ever had a period of fasting was the summer and autumn of 1999, where every Friday, I would abstain from eating anything for 24 hours.
Fasting is not to confused with dieting... the purpose behind abstaining from things is spiritual. Lent is symbolic of the 40 days that Jesus fasted and was tested before he began his public ministry (see Matthew 4:1-11) The simple idea behind fasting is by intentionally depriving ourselves of the things we normally love and enjoy, we realize that all we really need to truly live is God. When the pangs of hunger come (or the longing for whatever you're abstaining from), it's then one must focus the most on God. It's a reminder that maintaining a healthy spiritual life is an intentional process, a process that partially requires our will and partially requires help from God.
Fasting and prayer are also closely associated... when one fasts, it usually implies that they're praying for something specific. For myself, I'm sure it's fairly obvious that I'm praying for the "right job", but I truly desire something much more than just work. I don't think words can explain well what it is I'm seeking... Absolution? Redemption? Purpose? Justification?
A little bit of all those things and more I guess.
Back to dinner. Man, turkey and mashed potatoes never tasted so good... mmmm =)
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Got a craving... need... sushi...
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Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Snatch tha pebble from my hand, grasshoppa.
After kendo practice, while everybody was still lined up after mokuso, my sensei asked everybody a question... "How does one obtain excellence in kendo?"
"Practice more basics!"
"Concentrate on your footwork!"
"Hands and feet together!"
"No. No. No." My sensei shook his head and kept looking at all of us students.
"For one second, think outside of kendo. How does one obtain excellence in anything in life?"
I knew the answer without even really thinking about it. Maybe I just didn't want to say it, maybe I wanted the n00b students to have a chance to say it... I thought about just staying quiet and saying nothing, but the answer tip-toed outta my mouth and floated onto the floor in a soft whisper.
"You have to want it."
My sensei nodded in affirmation.
"Yes. You have to want excellence... and you have to want it badly."
*Thus ends another fortune cookie entry*
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Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Got my right big toe smashed at kendo tonight... damn, that's the 3rd time it's happened. Sucks.
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One more thing.
For all you poor bastards searching Google and coming to this website looking for a crack for the Warcraft 3 Beta, The Frozen Throne...
IT IS NOT HERE. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ME E-MAIL ASKING ME TO GIVE IT YOU, I DON'T HAVE IT.
That is all.
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Mondays are fine.
Today (technically yesterday) was a fun day. I spent most of the morning and afternoon getting Autoshop 101 from my uncle, who helped me to do a light tune-up of my ghetto 1990 Nissan. We went to an auto store, bought parts, and just came back to the house to work on the car in the garage. Since I've never owned a car before, it was all very educational - learning to remove and replace the sparkplugs; mixing and refilling anti-freeze, taking off the air intake and replacing the air filter; checking the oil, belts, and tire pressure.
My uncle is cool like that, taking the time to teach me all that stuff... I guess since he has no kids of own, I get spoiled in their place. I finally know first hand what most of my friends got to do with their dads back in high school when they got their first cars.
Wow, what a difference a little tune-up makes. Car runs a lot smoother now.
Evening, I went to visit Shiv and the rest of the gang. I was starving when I got up there, but my lovely girlfriend already had a teriyaki meatloaf, rice, and green beans waiting for me as soon as I walk through the door... whoohooo! It's nice to feel lucky. =)
I also brought my copy of "Undercover Brother" since Dave (in town for a sermon this Sunday) has been itching to watch it for awhile. Hilarious movie, Steph never saw it before either and she got a kick out of it.
But yeah, getting back to my uncle... he's flying back to NorCal tomorrow. I hope he's had a good time here in Seattle, just visiting family. He's not a Christian, but he's good uncle and a kind man. Never graduated college, but he's damn smart... works for Chevron R&D and taught himself to speak Japanese. When my grandfather died, he dropped out of school to move home and take care of my po-poa (maternal grandma). Growing up, he was always the cool uncle - the uncle with the newest fast car/motorcyle, the uncle who played with the cousins, the uncle who gave all the nephews their first 486 and taught them how to run Master of Orion from DOS.
Once, back in the old house in ghetto Oakland, these 3 hoodrat punks tried to break into the house, to push their way through the front door and rob my uncle and grandma. Despite getting pistol whipped in the head, he fought them off, slammed the door, and called 9-1-1 (my grandma spoke mostly only Chinese). After that, he shelled out his own money for a brand-new house for my grandma and him to move to in San Leandro.
The big focus of his life has always been my po-poa and family, but since she passed away back in September 2001, I think he's sort of at loss of what to do with his life. I guess men in our family have it in our genes to feel useful, needed. He never married, never had any kids... family was his priority, but yet, I know he needs something more in his life. My grandma always wanted my mom to try and set him up, but it was a little hard since we're in Seattle and he's in Oakland. Besides, having a wife and kids would be nice, but I'm not sure that's what he really needs to find happiness. I think he turns 50 this year and he's wondering what to do with himself. In some ways our lives parallel each other, so maybe that's why I feel a special kinship to him. Maybe we're both are facing a crisis: he's got his mid-life crisis; got my quarter-life crisis.
God help us both.
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Monday, March 03, 2003
Sittin' at the bottom of the ladder while my belly gets fatter...
Girl Scout cookies.
Leftover Krispy Kremes.
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No Warcraft 3 Beta fo Gar? Wah...
Fellow IIstix War3 freak Jeff got in tho... lucky bastard. I'm sure he's getting his play time in now, 'cause pretty soon, he's gonna have to go at least week without it... haha.
I think I'd be more disappointed, except I do have MoO3 to occupy me too, thanks to my unk. It'll hold me over until I get a copy... heh
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Sunday, March 02, 2003
I got off to a late start this morning because my favorite Snoopy alarm clock was a half-hour behind. Not that being late is anything new to me... I'm a notorious follower of Asian time. It just happens that this morning, I actually had a "legitimate" excuse for being late, haha. I still made it to church in time for choir though, so it's all good.
Our English congregation pastor is still gone, so Reverend Leung, the Chinese-speaking pastor, gave the sermon today with a translator. Though I can make a few words here and there (Yeh-So being the easiest, haha) my Cantonese comprehension = zero. Still, he was a very animated and engaging speaker... that impression went beyond language. I actually got to hear him two times, because my mom and uncle arrived to church later and while my mom was teaching Sunday school, my uncle wanted to go to 2nd service... only problem for me is that 2nd service is entirely in Cantonese. Oh well... I didn't want to ditch my poor uncle and make him sit by himself, so I sat with him throughout 2nd service. Several of the church members who know me were looking at me with smirks on their faces because they know I don't understand Chinese... but they saw me sitting with my uncle and they understood.
The strange things that Chinese people do...
Speaking of which, I actually saw "Cradle 2 the Grave" yesterday, the new Jet Li flick with DMX. I steeled myself for the worst, but it actually wasn't too bad. It wasn't Shakespeare, but I was entertained nonetheless and that's what counts. My standards for action movies are different than for dramas. Plenty of bare-knuckled fighting, high-speed car chases, and guns pop'n off. My favorite quote of the movie went something like this:
DMX: "I don't know if the diamonds are there or not, but I got this feeling. You ever get one of those?"
DMX: "I thought Chinese people were supposed to be all mystical and s#%t."
Jet: "Chinese people like to gamble... not guess."
Hahaha, how true.
Oh yeah, I also got to see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" yesterday too for the first time. It was funny, but I think not as good as I thought it'd be given all the hype. Maybe all the female angst humor doesn't move me quite the same as stupid/ghetto humor. I did find a lot of the cultural humor funny... I'm sure somebody could do a remake and call it "My Big Fat Chinese Wedding" while still keeping a lot of the jokes. All things about having a big family, nosey relatives, working at a family business, parents proud of their culture, a crazy old grandparent who thinks were still at war... hahaha.
One quote from the movie that they wouldn't have to change that I've heard many an old Chinese man grumble at a white guy...
"My ancestors were writing philosophy while yours were still swinging from trees!"
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Saturday, March 01, 2003
s l e e p y...
Well, Friday night's double header at my church went well.
Hearing Michael Chang speak about his life as a pro tennis player and his faith was pretty good, unlike most athletes I've heard speak, he's actually comes across as very articulate, funny, and sincere. I think almost about 500 people from my church and local area came to hear him, so it was a pretty packed house. He also stayed afterwards to sign autographs and take pictures with people... and even after all of that, he also came in to speak just to the high school and junior high kids, taking their questions and answering them. You'd think a person as successful as him might be a little arrogant or even aloof, but I can hardly think of a person more down-to-earth or humble than he was. Very cool experience... got me an autographed copy of his book. =)
The 30 Hour Famine event for the high schoolers and junior highers was fun too... we spent most of the night playing games, including some fun flashlight tag/ hide-n-go-seek games in the dark. We tried get everybody to sleep around 2:00 AM, but it was a little tough. Man, a room full of hungry high schoolers and junior highers trying to sleep somehow turned into a symphony of snoring... haha. By 8:00 this morning, we finally broke the fast with breakfast (ironic, since that's the origin of the word breakfast). The kids were starving, and they wolfed down all the food the parents made - scrambled eggs, pancakes, fresh fruit, sausage.
Time for me to make up my sleep.
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