Panorama is a new a world premiere play from Italian duo Motus showing at La MaMa (66 East 4th Street) as part of The Public’s Under the Radar Festival until January 21.
Though the description for the show is a bit dense–“proposing a post-nationalistic identity for all the populations of the world, focusing on the concept of fluid identity and nomad identity”–the play itself is actually an intimate look at the lives of the artists who make up La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company.
Sure it plays out in unique ways with shifting identities and the help of some expertly executed projections, life-feeds, and other technological boosts. But in the end, it’s about people. An inordinately human play about belonging and not belonging, about morals and identity, about taking a stand, about becoming an artist, about moving, about the emotional toll of today’s political climate.
The play is based on interviews done with the actors, a refreshingly diverse group. Maura Nguyen Donahue, for example, who reveals in the course of the play that she added Nguyen so people would know she was Vietnamese, only to find out that her family’s surname was actually Tran (her mom purchased papers). There’s a wonderful camaraderie between the actors that bleeds through even beyond the lines.
There are some odd moments, some jarring notes, some nudity (this is after all, experimental theater, what do you expect), some delightful one-liners, and a whole boatload of honesty.
Panorama is playing at La MaMa, The Downstairs at 66 East 4th St. until January 21, 2018. Tickets $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors. Run time: 80 minutes.
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“A guru once told me that the problem with the West is they don’t squat.” – Rosie Spinks
We recently got a comment from one of our readers on how the Asian Squat seems to be a way to help with a particular health problem but that the reader could not readily achieve the position. Shortly after that, I saw this piece by Rosie Spinks about how the “Asian Squat” can be good for people’s health, but sadly, is going away with certain people in Asia.
I was at Costco the other day, and noticed this new frozen meal – Ajinomoto’s Tokyo Style Shoyu Chicken Ramen Bowls. I’m always looking for something I can bring to work, since I had mentioned, the company cafeteria kind of sucks. So the fact that this packing has six dishes for $12.99, that definitely caught my eye.
Although, as usual, the dish alone probably wouldn’t be that filling for lunch. I’ll probably have to bring something else, like a salad. In any case, you really can’t too much about how the dish is going to taste after taking it out of the box:
But once you remove the plastic, fill the plastic container with water until a certain line, and microwave for about four minutes, this is what you get:
I was pleasantly surprised – the dish tasted pretty decent. On the packaging, the instructions suggest:
“Add some soy sauce, black pepper, or a soft boiled egg to customize your ramen!”
And I am sure that will make the ramen dish taste better, but I’m not going to bring soy sauce, etc. to work with me. Again, the meal size was okay – but I’d definitely still be hungry in a few hours if I only had this for lunch.
By Dawn Lee Tu
Alice Lee has been in the game for a decade and there’s a good chance you’ve seen her before.
Her impressive body of work includes Broadway (award-winning Spring Awakeningand Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark) and off-Broadway (Heathers the Musical), indy film (Jack, Jules, Esther and Me), television (Switched at Birth, Son of Zorn, The Mindy Project, Two Broke Girls), to reality-music talent show Rising Star. She finds time to cover songs and release original music on her YouTube channel. Lee is also the fresh-faced Asian customer service agent in the Discover Card commercialthat always sparks a fresh round of “Spot the Asian,” my favorite game to play while watching TV.
She can be seen in Safe and Sound, premiering January 12th on Amazon Prime Video. Safe and Soundis an part of Philip K. Dick’s anthology Electric Dreams, a sci-fi anthology series of ten epic, ambitious and moving standalone episodes, each set in a different and unique world – some which lie in the far reaches of the universe and time and others which are much, much closer to home. While the stories may be worlds apart, central to each is the poignant and warm exploration of the importance and significance of humanity.
Each episode is inspired by one of Philip K. Dick’s renowned short stories and has been adapted by leading British and American writers including Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander),Michael Dinner (Justified), Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Matthew Graham (Doctor Who), David Farr (The Night Manager), Dee Rees (Mudbound) and Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim) among others.
Lee and I talked over the phone about her latest breakout role, balancing her love for singing and acting, and how she cultivates her creative energies.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4, Episode 12: “Liar Liar”
Original airdate January 9, 2018.
Synopsis: Louis finds a new group of friends through his Kenny Rogers rep, but as always, he goes overboard in making himself likable. Honey’s getting-ready habits take their toll on Emery and Evan’s planned activities with her, so they help her find a new look, beginning with the maternity wear store. Nicole has difficulty asking her crush for a date. Eddie tries to help out as wingman but he’s dismayed by Nicole’s willingness to lie about her tastes in music and movies so she can seem more compatible.
Snaps up: Nicole and Eddie have been the strengths this season. If an episode has a story for them, it’s not all bad. I’m impressed with how resilient they’ve both been in handling rejection. It’s cute to see Evan and Emery play with Honey as if she’s their Barbie. And probably the best laugh comes right in the teaser, when Louis says he has to consult “the old ball and chain” and in jump cut, he’s asking Marvin if it’s okay for him to go bowling with his new friends. Funny! Jessica is unusually and pleasantly nice this week.
When Louis brings his buddies home after bowling, one of them reaches into the freezer. I found myself saying, “Bagel Bites! Make it Bagel Bites!” It was pizza rolls. Which are fine, but I have a weakness for Bagel Bites.
Some lines I liked:
“I don’t know. These outfits are a little—ooh! You can wear that one in the shower!” (Honey)
“You can’t handle having friends!” (Jessica)
“It always starts with pizza rolls.” (Jessica)
Snaps down: Except for the Nicole-Eddie story, it’s too easy to let this whole episode kind of slide right by without soaking anything in.
“Hello Hooter. I’m looking for my husband.”
“Oh. What’s he look like?”
“I’m sure to you he looks like me in a boy wig, but if you could take off your Anglo glasses for just one minute, he’s about five-nine. Hairless but still manly.”
Soundtrack flashback: Coolio’s “Rollin’ with My Homies” (1995) from the Clueless soundtrack. I never thought enough about Brittany Murphy to think I might miss her, but this song made me remember her wistfully.
Final grade, this episode: Almost a completely forgettable episode, but rescued by Eddie’s wingman identity, Nicole’s awkwardness, and both teens’ niceness and resilience. B-minus.
The Japanese American dynamic duo brother & sister siblings Maia & Alex Shibutani (also known as the Shib Sibs), as well as Madison Chock (and her ice dance partner and Evan Bates) made the 2018 U.S. Olympic Ice Dance Figure Skating Team, as announced this past Sunday during a press conference and press release:
“U.S. Figure Skating announced today the ice dance teams who will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.
The ice dance team is Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the 2018 U.S. bronze medalists. They are the 2015 U.S. champions, 2016 World bronze medalists and placed eighth at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. After winning silver at both of their Grand Prix assignments this season, they qualified for their fourth-straight Grand Prix Final.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are two-time U.S. champions. They topped the podium at both of their Grand Prix assignments this season before earning bronze at the Grand Prix Final. They are the 2017 World bronze medalists, 2016 World silver medalists, and placed ninth at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.”
Photo by 8Asians
Earlier that day, I got to see Maia & Alex Shibutani perform, and they were favored to win the Gold for the 2018 U.S. Championships (often referred to as “Nationals”) for Ice Dance, but had a minor hiccup in their free dance routine which cost them dearly, when Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue performed flawlessly, wining in total points (short dance + free dance) 197.12 vs. the Shibutani’s 196.93, a difference of just .19 points!
Maia & Alex Shibutani were amazing. I remember seeing others post about them on Facebook, and you should take a look at yourself at how talented they are.
This will be their *second* trip to the Olympics, as they competed also in 2014. Amazing.
Additionally, Asian American Madison Chock and her ice dancing partner Evan Bates made the team as well, and I also had the opportunity to see them perform for the free skate routine.
Photo by 8Asians
From Wikipedia, Chock’s background is: “She is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent on her father’s side, and German, English, Irish, French, and Dutch descent on her mother Barbara Hall’s side.” Chock doesn’t sound like a Chinese last name to me, but perhaps it was anglicized non-traditionally.
2018 U.S. Championships Ice Dancing Press Conference
Congratulations to all who made the Olympic team!
Growing up there just weren’t a lot of Asians—let alone Asian Americans—on television or in the movies. And when there were, they were very rarely people I actually looked up to. However, when it came to my day-to-day playing, I was a G.I. Joe junkie. I watched the G.I. Joe cartoon religiously and spent hours upon hours playing with my action figures. I made up scenarios where the good guys always won.
My two favorite characters were Snake Eyes (right) and Storm Shadow (left). Snake Eyes was this bad ass guy in a black/dark blue uniform with a mask over his face. He had a big dog—a husky or a wolf—as a companion and never said a word. He knew martial arts and was the good guy’s ninja. Storm Shadow wore white and was the bad guy’s ninja. I don’t know this for a fact, but my memory seems to recall the two of them being mortal enemies—but take that with a grain of salt. I could have just made that up. In my play though, they were friends and both were always on the side of good.
I knew Storm Shadow was Asian. His backstory was that he was from Japan. And from what I could see of his face—since half of it was covered by a mask—was that he had “Asian eyes.” But Snake Eyes was totally different. Snake Eyes’ entire face was covered with a mask. So in my head, I always considered him Asian too.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’ve come to believe that maybe Snake Eyes wasn’t Asian after all. What happened? My son got a G.I. Joe snowmobile playset for his birthday and it came with a Snake Eyes action figure. I was super excited—since he was my favorite character from when I was his age. But unlike when I was a kid, his mask came off. To my horror, his eyes didn’t look Asian to me.
Here’s a picture I took with my phone:
I needed to get to the bottom of this. Luckily, there is Google. First, let’s look at Snake Eyes’ background:
Snake Eyes is not only a master of ninjitsu, mystical arts, and espionage, but he’s also a master combatant and artillery specialist. Fellow GI Joe Scarlett has labeled him “3-Bravo-0,” Baddest Butt-Kicker Bar None. He’s an expert in all NATO and Warsaw Pact arms. He’s also a black belt in twelve various martial art forms, which include: Karate, Kung-Fu, Ninjitsu, Tae Kwan Do, and more. Snake Eyes is highly skilled in edged weapons, and he’s particularly a master swordsman, never leaving for a mission without his Mikimoto Japanese sword. He’s an expert in firearms and explosives, and he makes it a point not to be fully dependent on one particular weapon.
Notice there was nothing about his race. As far as anyone is concerned, he could still be Asian. When I put in the search term: “Is Snake Eyes Asian?” I quickly found out that I wasn’t the only person asking this question.
What race is Snake eyes anyway, asian or caucasion?
To my delight, someone answered that they thought he was Asian:
i think he’s Asian ? maybe not but i think so
I should put this question into context: It was in response to the fact that in one of the recent G.I. Joe movies, Snake eyes was being played by Ray Park, who as the name implies is Asian!
Wait… What? This doesn’t mean anything. Everyone knows Hollywood whitewashes everything. I needed to keep looking.
On another discussion board, during a very serious discussion about whether Blade would have beaten Snake Eyes in a fight, the idea that Snake Eyes was Asian came out. One of the commentators made this very salient point:
But Snake Eyes isn’t Asian. Uh…he’s a ninja so he’s asian.
Phucking dumb racist.
Not a good sign. But as I looked deeper, I found this:
His real name, origin, age, background, and even his service number are listed under “classified,”
So, if Snake Eyes’ background was classified, he could have been Asian? I really should have stopped here. But then I found this:
In his youth, Snake Eyes, along with Storm Shadow, was trained by the Arashikage Clan. A homeless Caucasian child, entered the clan’s home seeking food, only to be caught by a young Storm Shadow who intended to “punish” the stranger for stealing.
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! This can’t be. But I found this same backstory for Snake Eyes across many sites. It seems pretty clear that he isn’t Asian, but instead a Caucasian ninja trained by a Japanese ninja. Even though I found this out, I told my son that Snake Eyes is Asian and then proceeded to superglue his mask on. Don’t tell him. I don’t want to ruin his childhood.
PS: Son, when you read this article when you are older, I hope that you can forgive me for lying to you.
PSS: Ignore everything I just wrote, Snake Eyes is still Asian.
On Sunday, Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou were named to the U.S. Figure Skating Team:
“U.S. Figure Skating announced today the men who will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.
The men’s singles team is Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou.
Nathan Chen is the 2018 U.S. champion, successfully defending his 2017 title. Chen entered the 2018 U.S. Championships as the only undefeated male skater in the 2017-18 season, winning two Grand Prix Series titles and the Grand Prix Final. Chen is the only man in the world to receive credit for landing five different types of quadruple jumps in international competition.
Adam Rippon is the 2016 U.S. champion, and placed fourth at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. After winning silver at both of his Grand Prix Series assignments this season, Rippon earned his second-straight trip to the Grand Prix Final, where he placed fifth.
Vincent Zhou is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. He won the 2017 U.S. silver medal and ended last season as the 2017 World Junior champion. Chen has won U.S. titles at the intermediate (2011), novice (2012) and junior (2013) levels.
Alternates for the 2018 men’s Olympic Team have been named as Jason Brown (first alternate),Ross Miner (second alternate), and Max Aaron (third alternate).”
There was absolutely no doubt, especially after Saturday’s performance, that Nathan Chen would be named to the 2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Figure skating team. However, the second two spots were up for grabs after some disastrous performances by Adam Rippon and Jason Brown at Nationals. Ultimately, Rippon was selected to be part of the team due to his body of work the past year and beyond.
Palo Alto native Vincent Zhou, was selected as the third member of the men’s figure skating team. To be honest, I don’t really follow Zhou even though he lives in the next town over, and only usually follow figure skating during the Olympics unless I happen to catch it on TV.
After the press conference, I had the chance to ask Zhou a question towards the end of the concurrent individual interview sessions of the press conference, asking him what was about Palo Alto that produced athletes such as Jeremy Lin and himself. He obviously recognized what I was getting at and responded (minute 5:56)
At first, I think I had noticed one reporter seemed to be a little put off by the question, as if it was not relevant (which annoyed me and definitely reinforced my thoughts on diversity in the newsroom). However, after Zhou answered my question, an Asian/Asian American reporter (I think from a local Chinese language television news station) asked about the racist tweet sent less than several hours ago after Zhou won the Bronze (minute 8:04):
I have a US issued passport, I was born in the States, and I've lived here all my life. Just thought I'd bring some facts into play here🤔😅 https://t.co/vyV7Wm6zZD
— Vincent Zhou (@govincentzhou) January 7, 2018
(Of course that spineless racist tweeter deleted that tweet. I’d love to really found out who that tweeter was …)
To be honest, I was a little surprised that Zhou had received such a tweet, since I had not heard of other such racist tweets regarding Mirari Nigasu, Karen Chen or even Nathen Chen. But in the press conference, Zhou reiterated what he had tweeted. After that response, I felt that I was definitely happy to have asked my question regarding Zhou and his Asian American background.
Since I knew Nathan Chen was going to bombarded by reporters, I wanted to focus in on Vincent Zhou (and also, since he lives in the next town over, I figured I might be able to interview him down the road – though I haven’t had a chance to interview Jeremy Lin yet …). With some time remaining, I moved over to see what Chen was answering:
I think at this point in time, Chen is highly likely to medal at the Olympics and has a very good chance to win the Gold. From the past few days of observing Chen, he is supremely confident and a bit stoic and a bit matter-of-fact, something that his teammate Adam Rippon said that he was quite the opposite (with Chen nodding in approval of his description of their skating styles and personalities).
Press Conference: 2018 U.S. Women’s Olympic Skating Team Selection
I had the real honor and pleasure to witness history live in San Jose, California (15 miles from where I live, 5 miles from where I currently work) to see two Asian American women, Japanese American skater Mirai Nagasu and Taiwanese American Skater Karen Chen skate at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where they respectively came in 2nd & 3rd:
“Mirai Nagasu (Pasadena FSC), the 2008 U.S. champion, earned a silver medal with 213.84 points, ahead of Karen Chen (Peninsula FSC), the 2017 U.S. champion, who secured the bronze medal with a score of 198.59 points. Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner (SC of Wilmington) finished fourth with 196.19.”
You can watch the press conference of that that here.
Bradie Tennell is the 2018 U.S. champion. She won the U.S. junior title in 2015 and the bronze medal at Bridgestone Skate America earlier this season. Her short program score of 73.79 at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships marked a new U.S. record.
Mirai Nagasu is the 2018 U.S. silver medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2008 and placed fourth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the second American woman in history to land a triple Axel in international competition.
Karen Chen is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2017, and is the 2015 U.S. bronze medalist. Her fourth-place performance at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships secured three ladies spots for the United States at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Alternates for the 2018 Olympic Team have been named as Ashley Wagner (first alternate), Mariah Bell(second alternate), and Angela Wang (third alternate).
After the press conference, Tennell, Nagasu & Chen sat down for press interviews for about 30 minutes. Here are about, in total, 5 minutes of video clips:
Note: I focused on Chen since I wanted to ask, but didn’t get a chance, to see – if she knew – if she was possibly the first Taiwanese American to represent the United States for women’s individual figure skating.
While the wave of robberies targeting Asian Americans in the Sacramento area has declined in some neighborhoods like Oak Park, where police have concentrated resources, crime and fear have increased in other Asian neighborhoods like Meadowview, Fruitridge, and Pocket, to the point where Asian Americans are arming themselves. Police have arrested more than 50 in connection with the targeted robberies (up from 20 reported in October 2016), but the problems have continued. “Part of the issue is the language barrier and not having the right tools to contact Police,” said Sgt Bryce Heinlein. “They’re coming home and being targeted as they’re getting out of their cars, being approached from behind normally, and the suspects are armed.” Elderly people are more likely to be targets, reports John Fan, a detective with Sacramento’s Central division.
Sacramento police have not revealed many details about the arrested suspects, but say that most are young men in their teens and their twenties and are of various racial backgrounds. Almost all are armed during the robberies. In this article where police debriefed the community and gave pointers on avoiding and reporting crimes, police said that the arrested robbers claim that attacks weren’t racially motivated but that “Asians people have money.”
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4, Episode 11: “Big Baby”
Original airdate January 2, 2018.
Synopsis: Honey’s mom (Cheryl Hines!) comes to visit, just in time to cause the newly expectant mother all kinds of stress about their differing approaches to motherhood. Jessica agrees to support Honey, but finds herself more often in agreement with Honey’s mom. Since Jessica and Honey can’t use the free cruise they won on Wheel of Fortune before it expires, Marvin and Louis go instead, Louis determined not to spend any money on what’s supposed to be a free trip. Eddie forms a quick friendship (and maybe more) with Karen (Jane Widdop), a new girl in school, but suspects he’s being yellow fevered, as his new friend’s past boyfriends were Asian and her favorite guitarist is James Iha.
Ooh: It’s not the issues episode I now must admit I prefer, but it does bring up yellow fever with the interesting way this program usually treats the good stuff. When Eddie accuses Karen of only liking him because he’s Asian, she asks, “Do you think it’s weird that all the girls you’ve liked have been white?” Eddie responds that it’s not a preference, but it’s what’s available, which I kind of wish the high-schoolers had taken a moment to work out, but this is the B plot so it’s okay as is. I really like that Eddie actually seems to have blown a chance to form a good friendship when he’s so quick to call yellow fever, treating himself as an object rather than the interesting guy Karen says she was drawn to. But not anymore.
Other lines I liked:
“I’m not ready to be a dad.” (Barefoot Dave when he thinks a dragonfly has laid eggs in his arm)
“My mom likes to tear into a bird when she wakes up.” (Honey)
“I’m just drawn to strong, critical energy.” (Jessica)
“Everybody else’s melon looks happy!” (Honey)
“Bring me back a giant seashell I can blow to summon the kids.” (Jessica)
“That’s a lot of bivalves for one man.” (Marvin)
Ugh: Seriously, is every phase of Honey’s pregnancy going to be a plot element? Because I don’t know if I can take this.
FOB moment: Jessica says, “When I first got pregnant, not only was my mom not here, but I was new to this country. I didn’t know how anything worked. I didn’t have any friends who were moms. I had to figure it out on my own.” I got a bit misty, as Jessica’s story reminds me of my mom, who came to a country where she barely spoke the language, to deal with pregnancy while my father was on a ship in the Pacific. When she fell down some stairs at home, she had to ask a neighbor to get her to a hospital, where the doctors induced labor and gave her a baby six weeks ahead of schedule and five months before that ship returned. I’m grateful Jessica had Louis, who was probably clueless but was undoubtedly doting.
Soundtrack flashback: “Pony” by Ginuwine (1996).
Final grade, this episode: It’s 2018 in our time, which means now it’s 1998 in FoTB time. With this episode, FoTB has given us three full seasons’ worth of episodes (it was a midseason replacement when it debuted), a pretty nice accomplishment. I can barely take all the pregnancy talk in this episode (I know every child is unique and I know every pregnancy is each expectant mother’s own story, but to a middle-aged bachelor, these stories all sound the same!) and the Marvin-Louis story isn’t even worth remembering, but that yellow fever plot makes it all better than tolerable. B.