I have been waiting to get to this part of my trip for a long time because I really enjoyed visiting the city of Kyoto for a lot of different reasons. But first, let’s start with Kyoto Train Station, which is a destination by itself.
The first time I visited Kyoto was back in December 1998, and my mom was our private tour guide. We had been visiting temple upon temple in Japan for over a week. My brother and I, being young and restless, were sick of temples and decided we wanted to explore on our own. So my mom gave in and let us just go wander on our own, and we ended up around Kyoto Station exploring an arcade, and that’s when we discovered the game Dance Dance Revolution before Americans had even heard of the game. Seeing as the first release of this game was on November 21, 1998, we basically played it a month after its first release in Japan.
What caught our eye was someone who was dancing and spinning and stepping on this arcade game, something like this:
Intrigued, we found our own machine and started playing it. We spent $40 USD, failed every time we tried, and loved every moment of it.
Fast forward to 2014/2015, and Kyoto Station looks pretty different 17 years later. However, the features that I totally remembered were still there–the glass roof and ceiling and the series of escalators at the main entrance that basically took you all the way to the top and back.
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I had blogged before about PG&E before for 8Asians’ Asian American Commercial Watch – most recently in March 2014. Recently, I saw this new PG&E television commercial:
“Eddie is a gas service representative who lives and works in San Francisco. Learn how he is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to the local community. (This communication paid for by PG&E shareholders.)”
I’m always fascinated how companies like PG&E and others try to improve their overall corporate image, despite some of their misdeeds. Most recently, PG&E was caught up in some controversy when the company wanted to have their $1.6 billion penalty for the San Brun, California gas pipeline explosion be a tax deduction expense. Although I guess technically, a penalty is an expense, but I don’t think the spirit of the settlement is reflected in the tax law, thus the California state legislature is looking to close that loophole. As a reminder, that gas pipeline explosion happened back in September 2010, killing 8 people, and destroying 35 homes and damaging many more.
But like I’ve blogged before, I am sure Eddie does want a safe PG&E since he lives in the Bay Area!
We have talked about dating difficulties before, but Ren You’s approach has gotten a lot of publicity lately, as he is offering US$10,000 dollars to anyone who can find him a girlfriend. To get the $10,000, people have to wait for Ren to date the suggested girl for a minimum of 6 months. You, an investment banker who recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama, says his long 12 hours days make it inefficient to do the bar scene, online dating, or suggestions from friends, all of which he has tried. I don’t know how hard it would be for an Asian American man to get a date or girlfriend in Birmingham Alabama, but I would have expected this kind of thing first in Silicon Valley. Maybe someone already has.
Those interested in trying to get the $10,000 can go to a dedicated web site that he set up: dateren.com. Women are free to nominate themselves.
This isn’t breaking news, but as those of you who have followed Jeremy Lin’s career, you know that his past season with the LA Lakers had a so-so season and that he was a free agent at the end of this season. On July 8th, Lin announced on his official website:
“Going into my first true free agency as an NBA player this off-season, the one thing that mattered to me the most was finding a team that would be a good fit for me. I wanted to be on a team where I would be able to play freely and truly play the game I love with joy again. That has always been the most important thing to me. After a LOT of prayer and long discussions with family and friends, I wanted to personally let you guys know I’ll be joining the Charlotte Hornets.”
According to news reports, Lin signed a contract for two years and $4.3 million.
On an interesting note, the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets Rich Cho is the first (and only) Asian (Burmese) American general manager of an NBA team (and I think had read, of any professional sports team).
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m not sure if the Hornets will be playing the Golden State Warriors during the regular season, so I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to see Lin play in 2015 – 2016 regular season
On June 30, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed bill AB 7 making October 25 in California Larry Itliong day. Who is Larry Itliong? He was one of the key Filipino contributors, along with Phillip Vera Cruz (shown on the left, Itliong is on the right) to the founding of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. While Caesar Chavez has his own California holiday, Larry Itliong’s role has been considered as neglected in retellings of the UFW’s story. Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to the California State Legislature, was the principal author of this bill. The documentary The Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heros of the UFW covers the story of Larry Itliong and other Asian Americans in the Farm Worker Labor Movement.
“Paths are ephemeral and strange, at once obvious and frustrating. This world is wild and dangerous, but the path is usually a safer place to be.”
Young-Hee and the Pullocho follows our young adventuring title character on a fantastical journey through the world of Korean folklore. From her dull life in modern-day Korea, Young-hee finds herself in a Strange Land with goblins, ghosts, talking trees and animals, among other mystical creatures that live in stories. While in this new world, her little brother Bum is kidnapped by an evil goblin. Only if Young-hee can find and bring back the mythical pullocho, a magical root, can she save her brother and return with him to the real world. On her journey, Young-hee runs into all manner of interesting characters expected in this type of epic, both sage and conniving.
Written for a middle-reader level, the language and storytelling is straight forward and simply stated, but Russell’s tale is a unique one in pulling together an young girl’s epic adventure with Korean folk stories. Not only are the characters of those stories woven into the main plot, but an occasional italicized interlude relates the original folk tales in brief.
Despite the intriguing setting and character set, Young-hee and the Pullocho lags a bit in momentum, taking about a hundred pages to get going and draw a reader in. And while I may be over-aged for this book, I find the best young reading books are still appealing at least in some fashion to older readers, and on this front I’d hoped for more. An epic adventure ought to be a bit more fast-paced and page-turning and the plot has that potential, but lacks in the follow-through. I will say that by the end, Young-hee becomes a more interesting character, and companions who join her adventure partway–Samjogo, a three-legged crow, and the silly yet also aggressive Tiger–are endearing.
After our tromp through the Aokigahara suicide forest (and avoiding any dead bodies), we arrived at our destination–a lava ice cave near the base of Mt. Fuji. Apparently, there are quite a few of these all over the place around Fuji. The one we went to was rather remote, and there was a moment of wide-eyed apprehension when our guide pointed to this literal hole in the ground to a dark abyss underworld and told us we were going to climb into it.
The first thing we had to do, of course, was gear up.
Every year, the annual Comic-Con convention invades San Diego, California in July. In probably the most anticipated panel of the convention was for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which kicks off the new trilogy of Star Wars films taking pace after the original Episodes 4,5 & 6 with Episode 7.
During the audience Q&A session, director J.J. Abrams was asked:
“Two young Asian fans said that one of the reasons they enjoyed Abrams’ Star Trek so much was its diverse cast. They hoped to see the same for Star Wars, but could they expect any Asian characters in future films?
“First, I want to say: go, Asians!” Abrams joked. “I’m not casting the movies that are coming up but if I was I would cast them as only Asian. I think you’ll see there are Asians in this film.”
At the end of this post, I’ve transcribed the Q&A of this in its entirety.
There has been some controversy in the past regarding the Star Wars franchise the lack of Asian representation in the original series as well as the the prequels, as there are a lot of Asian inspired themes (Jedis ~ Samurais).
My most recent recollection of this issue was from this past December 2014 from an NPR piece, Diversity In Space: Tracking The First Asian Pilot In The Star Wars Movies, discussing trying to even identify the Asian actor. And quickly Googling and researching this topic, I was somewhat surprised to find this Forbes contributor’s commentary last year titled The New ‘Star Wars’ Cast: Mostly White Guys.
We have been following the Twinsters story since last year when they were still crowdfunding for the film, and our some of our L.A. readers even got to see the film at the 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), but now the documentary directed by Samantha Futerman and Ryan Miyamoto is receiving a theatrical release:
July 17 – New York (Empire 25 Time Square)
July 24 – Los Angeles (Arclight Cinemas)
July 31 – Austin, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and additional cities across the US
ABOUT THE FILM:
In February 2013, Anaïs Bordier, a French fashion student living in London, stumbled upon a YouTube video featuring Samantha Futerman, an actress in Los Angeles, and was struck by their uncanny resemblance. After discovering they were born on the same day in Busan, Korea and both put up for adoption, Anaïs reached out to Samantha via Facebook. In Twinsters, we follow Samantha and Anaïs’ journey into sisterhood, witnessing everything from their first meeting, to their first trip back to Korea where their separation took place.
Twinsters explores the meaning of family and connection through a story that would have been impossible just 10 years ago without the creation of YouTube and Facebook.
TWINSTERS had its world premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, where it received a Special Jury Recognition Award for Editing. On its festival premiere, TWINSTERS screened at the beloved Stateside Theater. The venue was completely full. It was a must-see sold-out screening at the fest.
The Los Angeles premiere on Friday, July 24, 2015 at Arclight Cinemas – Hollywood will include a post-screening discussion following the 7:10pm show with directors Futerman and Miyamoto and additional cast & crew, along with special guests.
Following the film there will be a special reception, hosted by The Kindred Foundation.
TWINSTERS | LA Premiere After Party Event
FRI July 24, 2015; 6:30pm – 11:30pm
CONFESSION: 1666 McCadden Pl. Hollywood, CA 90028 (entrance on Hollywood Blvd)
Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
The evening will include a hosted Svedka Bar, Sounds by DJ John Lock, light tray pass and opportunity to speak with the cast and crew of the film!
Back in March 2014, I had blogged about California State Senator Leland Yee had been arrested, along with others, on public corruption charges. He initially pleaded not-guilty, but now has changed his plea to guilty:
“Yee, who previously has pleaded not guilty to bribery, money laundering and other felony charges, was scheduled to go on trial in late July in the sweeping case that was centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown. But he changed his plea Wednesday in San Francisco federal court and will likely serve some time in prison, legal analysts say. He could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to federal sentencing guidelines and the plea agreement obtained by NBC Bay Area. He admitted to a long list of crimes, including wire fraud and quid pro quo favors in return for campaign contributions, from 2011 to March 2014, in a spree called the “campaign,” the plea deal shows. In many of the cases, Yee was interacting with undercover FBI agents.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve met Yee briefly a few times at some political events in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he definitely seemed like a sketchy politician. Yee would always show up late and leave early at event, so he could be seen, then move on to the next event. But Yee’s charges I think surprised even his strongest critics. Fortunately, most elected officials I’ve met, whether they are Asian American or not, do have the best of intentions and certainly not like Yee.
It wasn’t until I got to the base of the Mt. Fuji and was getting ready for our tromp through the forest to the ice cave that I found out from my companions that our tromp would be through the Aokigahara, which I also found out at that point was famed for frequent suicides.
Needless to say, we didn’t find a body, but there were abandoned cars and motorcycles here and there in the parking lot and a little into the forest. Also, there were signs that discouraged suicide complete with suicide hotlines people can call.