A number of years ago I stumbled upon a series of children’s books, subtitled “Tales from the Chinese Zodiac“. There was a book for the Chinese New Year, and I eagerly bought the one for the Year of the Snake, glad to find something to help my then 3 year old daughter appreciate the coming Chinese New Year.
Fast forward to 2017 and the last of the series has come out, to celebrate the Year of the Rooster, a full dozen years after my own daughter was born in the last year of the Rooster, 2005. With a complete set of 12 published, you can now find a children’s book for every year/sign in the Chinese Zodiac.
My daughter was excited to read the latest Year of the Rooster installment, even though at 12 she’s a little older than the target audience, which is probably anywhere from 3 to 9 years of age. As with the prior books in the series, the main character (the Rooster in this case), goes on an adventure with a human sidekick, Ying.
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I first saw this Secret Deodorant commercial on Facebook. I can’t saw I’ve seen it on TV. But when I saw the image:
I thought it was pretty funny. As Secret states in the YouTube description of the video: “Worry about the meeting, not your pits.”
I thought it was pretty funny. I can honestly say, I’ve never used deodorant in my life. To be honest, I don’t think Asians exhibit that much body odor? [See Koji’s post “Do Asians Smell?”]
In a fight that drew about 5 million viewers, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson dominated Paige VanZant, choking her unconscious with a rear naked choke a little over 3 minutes into a fight that was supposed to go for 5 x 5 minute rounds. Waterson’s win shifts her up from rank 11 to rank 7, effectively taking VanZant’s spot in the rankings.
Waterson was the former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion at 105 lbs, but her move to UFC took her up a weight class to 115 lbs strawweight. Despite being smaller than most in the division, she looks much healthier and stronger at the higher weight and even reported putting on 5 lbs of muscle in this past year, as can be seen at the weigh-in for the fight.
When asked to call someone out, Waterson declined, saying she’s just interested in fighting for the belt so is interested in anyone top five that would get her there.
She eventually told TMZ Sports that she felt a fight with former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza or Rose Namajunas, also an Invicta alumnus, would be desirable.
Her fight gym, Jackson-Wink MMA, posted a multiple choice survey on who fans would like to see Waterson fight next. I immediately selected Rose Namajunas, who defeated VanZant last year in a similar 5 x 5 minute headline event, with Namajunas submitting VanZant at literally the very last second of a grueling and bloody 25 minute war.
Happily for me, Namajunas jumped in and called Waterson out. The strong star power of both combat athletes and their high rankings makes this a very likely match up worthy of a main event.
Being a veteran of 10 years, many are predicting that Waterson may be the new rising MMA star to break into the mainstream. For Asian American women and women in general, this is race and gender stereotype-shattering good news.
Haruki Murakami’s latest book, Absolutely on Music: Conversations is a deep dive into the world of classical music with his friend, famed classical music conductor Seiji Ozawa. As the title implies, rather than a traditional prose book, this one is a quite literally a compilation and transcript of their conversations.
The two men dive deep into Ozawa’s discography and storied career as a conductor of numerous prominent orchestras. Murakami, a long-time fan of both classical music and Ozawa’s, exposes his own breadth of knowledge (surprising even the conductor with his record collection). Ozawa readily divulges his own insights into music and sound. Throughout, the two expose some of the similarities between the practices of a novelist and a conductor.
Absolutely on Music is crafted more for those who are already interested in classical music. While those without any knowledge of Messiaen or Symphonie fantastique, no doubt will find certain bits in their conversation enlightening and enjoyable, there are countless other moments that dive into how to read scores and musical expressiveness varying between the sounds of orchestras.
I’m working on a new feature film called Executive Order 13800. It’s a film that asks the question, what if what happened to Japanese Americans seventy-five years ago during World War 2, happened today to Arab and Muslim Americans?
I started working on this project with my friend and writing partner Mustafa Rony Zeno about a year ago. But we abandoned the project because it felt too far-fetched at the time. However, the day after the recent presidential election, I called him and told him that we needed to drop all the projects we were doing and start working on it again.
Executive Order 13800 follows an Arab American family after two 9/11 type terrorist attacks within less than a month of each other. President Trump issues Executive Order 13800, which gives the family two weeks to pack up their things and report to a government location. The film follows the family during those two tumultuous weeks as their worlds completely flip upside down and as they begin to lose their civil rights—things such as a curfew laws, not being able to gather in public, etc.
Although the above events are fictional, they are pretty much what happened to Japanese Americans following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and 1942.
I’ve dedicated my life to telling the Japanese American story. For those who know don’t know me, I spent almost thirteen years at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) doing tours, exhibitions, and public programing around the “internment” camps.
But it’s more personal for me. My dad’s side of the family was incarcerated at Sand Island, Hawaii; Topaz, Utah; Tule Lake, California; and Crystal City, Texas for the duration of the war, plus a few years. Just like the other 120,000 other Japanese Americans, their only crime was looking like the enemy. It should be noted that my entire family were American citizens.
My family was so traumatized by what happened no one really talked about it. When I was young, my father told me a few stories about when he was at “camp.” But what I remember most was his trauma. Even though he was so young at the time these events occurred, I could see the pain in his eyes and knew it was something that he would never be able to forget.
It is the memory of my father’s eyes, that pushes me to try to get Executive Order 13800 off the ground—despite all the Internet Trolls and frankly racist comments that I’ve seen since launching this campaign. Because almost no one or group came to my father’s defense so many years ago, I realize how important it is that I be a voice. I need to remind people what happened to my family seventy-five years ago to prevent it from happening to anyone else ever again—today it’s Muslim and Arab Americans, but who knows who our “enemies” will be tomorrow? In fact, I tell my toddler that we have a moral responsibility to speak out.
Do I think what happened to Japanese Americans would actually happen to Muslim or Arab Americans? A year ago, I would have said it was a long shot. Today, I’m not as sure. And let me be clear, this isn’t just because Trump was elected president. There has been rhetoric on both sides that have been disturbing.
No one else can or wants to do this project. That’s why we are depending on YOU. We need fifty thousand dollars to make this cautionary tale a reality. Please take a moment to visit our Indiegogo campaign and consider making a donation.
To read my family’s story, please visit my earlier article, United States Vs. Takaichi Sakai.
Follow me at @ksakai1.
Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 11: “A Park Family Christmas”
Original airdate December 17, 2016.
Against Ken’s advice, Suzy volunteers the Park home for the annual Welltopia holiday party. Molly learns that Pat’s bringing the high-school classmate who’s an admissions director at Stanford, so she stresses out about this party being up to Stanford snuff. Clark has a special gift lined up for his boyfriend Connor. D. K. and Dave volunteer to be Santa and an elf at the library Christmas event.
Can’t you see I’m burning, burning?
This episode is terrible. But I love Christmas. When I was a younger man, I loved Christmas TV episodes, and there’s a Christmas episode of M*A*S*H that’s one of my three favorite episodes of television of all time. There are times–including times of the year–when you turn a blind eye on someone’s faults and celebrate the good stuff, and Dr. Ken has always been a hundred percent well-intentioned and fair of heart. I want to hold it to the highest standards because its success should mean something, but heck. I was the recipient of more than a few charitable grades in my time, and my Asian-ness isn’t even special where I come from.
So thanks to Mrs. Feldman for the B that should have been a C in seventh grade and Mrs. Rediger for coming in on a Saturday so I could turn in my book report on Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev before your deadline to submit grades in ninth grade. I’d like you both to know that I’ve extended similar grace to my own students and privately invoked your names each time.
Oh doctor, doctor
There are a few moments that had me laughing aloud even on the third viewing, but there are really only two things that matter here, and the first might not even matter at all in light of the second. First, this is an episode about goodwill toward humans, and at this time of year (perhaps especially this year), I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it or heard it, and in this case I don’t even care that the message is vocalized by a young boy in a green elf costume channeling Linus Van Pelt, Kermit the Frog, and Mike Brady all at once.
Second, we have a marriage proposal by one gay man to another on a thirty-minute sitcom on Friday night. I don’t care that it’s done at a party in front of a bunch of people, or that it’s followed by a group rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” around the family piano. Again, there are times when all you need is to celebrate someone’s heart.
Is this love I’m feeeeeeeliiiiiiing?
No rating this week, because this episode’s intentions go beyond whether or not the show is creative, clever, unique, charming, funny, or whatever. メリークリスマス。
Asian American mixed martial artist Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson will be headlining Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card against Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant in a 115 lbs strawweight bout. The event will be in Sacramento, VanZant’s home court.
Since her win over Angela Magana at her UFC debut back in the summer of 2015, Waterson has had to cancel two fights due to injuries.
I predict Waterson to win, not just because she’s more seasoned and experienced. Waterson’s game and skills are a lot more refined. Plus, the Karate Hottie is fighting out of what is consistently considered the best MMA fight gym out there, Jackson-Wink MMA.
Of course, anything can happen in the octagon, but I’m looking forward to seeing Waterson making her way up the ranks and taking that UFC strawweight belt.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 8: “Where Are the Giggles?”
Original airdate December 13, 2016.
Microsynopsis: The Huangs get free passes to see Jingle All the Way at the movie theater, but in their haste to get there early enough to grab the good seats, they leave Evan behind. Louis and Jessica call Marvin, asking him to go over and keep an eye on Evan until they get home. When Marvin enters the house, he steps into a Home Alone trap Evan has set, injuring his back. Marvin sues Louis’s insurance company, but his muscle relaxant sends him into strange dreams, in which he is visited by three ghosts whose aim is to convince Marvin to drop the lawsuit. Jessica, in a fit of guilt, promises to buy Evan the year’s most in-demand toy: Tickle Me Elmo.
Good: This episode is crammed with all kinds of badness, but there are a few highlights.
Bad: These reviews are always subjective — I am only qualified to respond to something from my own point of view, with my own knowledge, experiences, and biases, but this week’s is especially biased.
FOB moment: “You don’t dream in Mandarin, do you?”
Soundtrack flashback: There’s a brief instrumental bit, in the scene where Marvin is visited by the Ghost of Kwanzaa Present, that sounds for all the world like Vince Guaraldi playing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in the A Charlie Brown Christmas style, but I can’t track down evidence that this exists. Yeah, I know it’s not a difficult style to emulate; I thought maybe this was a test of some sort. I think I failed.
Final grade, this episode: Although I like the theme of extending grace (Marvin and Louis to each other, Evan to Jessica, Richard to Jessica, and (sorta) Deidre to Jessica), there are too many plot-related things that rub me completely the wrong way. C+.
The Boat Rocker, the latest novel from author Ha Jin, follows a journalist Feng Danlin as he becomes immersed in one particularly outrageous story.
Danlin, the book’s narrator, works for a Chinese newspaper located in New York, and is assigned a story about his ex-wife Haili. His articles begin reporting on suspicions about the hype being bred around Haili’s forthcoming novel–that they are all exploitative lies. As the narrative unfolds, it centers around both their personal relationship and antagonism, and the relationship between official Chinese media and independent journalists in the diaspora.
Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 10: “Ken’s Apology”
Original airdate December 10, 2016.
I have done all that I could to see
Ken overlooks something crucial in a patient’s medical history. He feels terrible about it and wants to apologize to the patient, but Pat informs him very firmly that apologizing means admitting fault, which is against Welltopia’s policies. If he does so, he will lose his job. D. K. goes to Dave’s parent-teacher conference. He accuses the teacher of not challenging Dave enough, and without clearing it with Ken or Allison, applies to have Dave skip a grade. D. K. also tries to set Molly up with his barber’s son, a boy who’s “Korean and a boy,” and therefore perfect for her.
I really hate this D. K. story, even though it rings mostly true. As a career educator, I’ve heard more than my share of stories just like this, and most of it’s pretty believable. I think I’m just tired of this plot device. It almost ruined Everybody Loves Raymond, a good show that could have been a lot better with grandparent figures who weren’t so there. Even the Molly part of this episode isn’t bad, such as it exists. I think my problem is that D. K. is the least interesting character, yet he’s given far too central a role this season. I’m tiiiiiiiiiiiiiired of it.
and the good
The Ken story is really well done. It’s like the writer whose job is to add the wackiness and the writer whose job is to make everything heavy-handed took the week off together. The seriousness with which Ken, Pat, and Allison treat this mistake is convincing. Since the three of them aren’t making silly jokes, Damona and Clark, who don’t have a story this week, get to add the comic relief, a dynamic that’s been consistently effective this season. The resolution at the bowling alley, when the patient offers his hand and Ken instead gives him a hug, is an excellent payoff because it’s so well set up. It’s sweet, funny, and very serious all at once, nicely dismounting and then sticking the landing in a way Dr. Ken doesn’t often exhibit.
without hiding; you must help me if you can.
Except for D. K., everyone in this episode is great. Molly and Dave (who has one of the best lines, when he calls Jay “K-Pop”). Damona, Pat, and Clark. Allison and Ken. Don, the patient. Jay, the Korean boy. This could have been a top-five episode for this show. 3.5 appointment books out of 5.
In the Asian ethnoburb where I live, one sees three kinds of buses. One kind is the Santa Clara Valley Transit public transportation bus, and another is the kind is the tech bus, as white Google buses pick people up and drop off every week day near my house. A third kind is the bus that stops at the local Asian shopping center that picks up people to trips, often to casinos. My dad takes buses like this to gamble at distant casinos like Cache Creek – about two hours away from my house. I recently saw this article and was stunned to learn that some Asian Americans from New York, mostly seniors, take a similar two hour casino bus ride for a surprising reason: to make ends meet.
I’m eager to see the new Star Wars spin-off movie, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, which takes place between the Episode III and Episode IV.
It’s no surprise to see trailers for the movie, but it was a pleasant surprise to see actor Ken Jeong in a commercial tie-in with Nissan, where Nissan happens to have an SUV that is named Rogue (which existed before the movie)
Looking forward to seeing the actual movie. The trailers have been terrific.