It’s been a long time since I last recall blogging about Target for my Asian American Commercial Watch series, but I caught this ad recently:
“Running low on the stuff you need? Time for a Target Run. Get everyday low prices on everyday essentials like milk, toothpaste and diapers. Target Run, and Done.”
The ad features an Asian American Mom:
her son & daughter:
and the kids’ grandfather:
My favorite Target ad though is the first one I had blogged about – All-American Asian Family in Target Ad:
Target, keep up the great work!
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September 21 is International Peace Day, what more fitting a day than to talk about origami cranes–or at least a book on cranes. Origami Peace Cranes: Friendships Take Flight by Sue DiCicco is a children’s book about friendship and making connections despite differences. Emma–pictured center on the cover–is nervous about going to a new school and thinks no one will want to be her friend. That is of course until her teacher invites them to all make paper cranes and write messages to one another. Then, Emma makes connections with her (very multicultural) classmates. It’s a very straightforward story about accepting others and accepting yourselves. The book includes easy to follow instructions for how to make an origami crane as well as paper.
I appreciate that the story touts self-acceptance and features a diverse crew (Kumar, Juana, Takako eating a bento box for lunch…you get the drift). That being said, I really did wish reading through it, that the main character was not white. And while it may not be traditional to write on your origami crane, the author is clearly interested in fostering creativity and self-expression in all forms and I can’t criticize that.
“While most of its big name new restaurants are lined up to launch in Westfield UTC this fall, it will be a slightly longer wait for dumpling specialists Din Tai Fung. As part of the shopping center’s multi-million expansion and remodel, there will be plenty of fresh food and drink options to celebrate come October including Shake Shack, Great Maple, True Food Kitchen and more, but a rep for the Taiwanese chain confirmed that it will not be opening in Westfield UTC until 2018.”
I’ve only been to San Diego for work, so I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Westfield UTC mall, but from Google Maps, it doesn’t look too far from UC San Diego (less than 3 miles).
While we have been hearing over the years about how how Asian Americans don’t hike or visit national parks, it’s great to hear about Asian Americans who do hike. In this story about the the Eagle Creek fire, a hiker talks about an Asian American named Emily who unlike most of the hikers in the area, was extremely well prepared and helped many of the more than 140 hikers who were cutoff from easy escape by the fire. They had to stay overnight and embark on a 14 mile route to escape the flames. Says stranded hiker Merribeth Midtlyng:
“She was an Asian gal named Emily, just six years in the country, and she’d read the book ‘Wild’ and knew all the things to bring on a hike,” Midtlyng said. “She had a headlamp, food, shelter and water purifier and was so helpful to a lot of people, helping them get safe water to drink.”
I saw the movie Wild, but I don’t think that I could have helped anyone if I was there. The trail in the movie ends at the Bridge of the Gods across the Columbia river, and the fire started by some moron with fireworks is around that area. Some of the area near Multnomah Falls burned but is considered mostly unscathed. I visited the area a few years ago and found it strikingly beautiful. With the current hurricane disasters, the fires choking the Pacific Northwest are going unnoticed by many.
We have written a number of articles about how Asian Americans actually do hike. It’s good that “Emily” also likes to both read and hike, which benefited of some of those trap by the awful fire.
I first met then candidate Stephanie Murphy shortly after the 2016 Democratic National Convention in July. What I didn’t realize, or had forgotten, was that Murphy had announced running for Congress in June 2016 – and essentially ran a 4-month campaign and defeating a 12-term (24 year) incumbent, Congressman John Mica. That is pretty unprecedented.
So it was with great pleasure that I was able to meet now Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy recently when she was back visiting the Bay Area. One thing I learned prior to me having the chance to interview her is that basically Mica & the Republicans took her for granted and that she had a massive get-out-the-vote ground game – where her campaign knocked on over I believe 120,000 doors in the district.
Well, this time around for November 2018, Murphy is a big target for Republicans to maintain the majority in the House. She’s one of two in Florida that the GOP is targeting:
“Florida Reps. Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy are among GOP targets for the midterm elections.”
In my brief interview with Murphy though, I didn’t focus in on her re-election, but how it’s been like to be in Congress, what has surprised her, what committees she’s on, as well as her recent trip to Vietnam on an official Congressional delegation and the kind words that Senator McCain had for Murphy as well as the Vietnamese American community has done for America, which I thought was quite touching.
Ever since I read Communion by Whitley Strieber, I’ve been fixated on the alien abductee experience. One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of the screen memories of abductees seem to involve Asians. The definition, according to Merriam-Webster, of screen memory is: “a recollection of early childhood that may be falsely recalled or magnified in importance and that masks another memory of deep emotional significance.” When used in context of an alien abduction, many seem to remember seeing an Asian person instead of an alien in their rooms. It is unclear if that’s something their own mind does to mask a traumatic experience or something their abductors put in their heads.
I was hoping to write my next 8Asians article on this phenomenon, but I was having a hard time finding anything. But during this “research” I came across the name Meng Zhaoguo, a Chinese lumberjack who believes he has had sex with an alien.
What fascinates me about Meng, other than the fact that he claims to have had sexual relations with a being not from this world, is that he’s Asian. Why is that unusual? The world of UFOs and aliens—most of the paranormal realm in fact—is very Western. The first UFO sighting—at least in the modern sense of it—was in the late 40s in Roswell, New Mexico and most of the sightings and other related events seem to take place exclusively in the English-speaking world. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been cases that have taken place in other parts of our planet—there have—but they have been much less common.
This is why when I came across Meng Zhaoguo’s story, I was instantly interested. Here’s the quick synopsis of his story:
In 1994, Meng thought he saw a helicopter crash in a remote Northeast corner of China. When he went to investigate, he was knocked out. He woke up back at his place. A few nights later, he was sleeping in bed with his wife and daughter when a nearly ten foot tall, twelve fingered woman with thighs coated with braided hair came to his room, levitated him, and then they engaged in a forty minute love making session.
According to interviews, Meng claimed that he was taken aboard a space ship on numerous occasions after this first encounter. He learned about a human/alien hybrid program and was warned that humans were destroying the Earth.
I was not able to verify this, but many articles claim that Meng successfully passed a lie detector test conducted by the police. In the Wikipedia entry about this case, the UFO Enthusiasts Club at Wuhan University came to the conclusion that the first encounter “may have occurred, the subsequent reported events were almost certainly untrue.”
I won’t pass judgement on whether or not any of this actually happened. But I am suspicious. It is believed that he “received numerous gifts as a result of his abduction, including a Sony television, a cow and, most notably, a job at a Harbin university.” (Source) If someone offered me an expensive TV to say that I had sex with an alien, I’d probably consider it. That’s not true. Buy me a nice dinner and a movie and I’ll say whatever you want me to say. But to be fair to Meng, he’s not the only one in the world who had made this particular claim. This Buzzfeed article highlights six cases of people claiming to have had sex with an alien.
As I looked into the story, one of the things that I found interesting was the attitude of the Chinese government toward the UFO/alien abduction phenomenon. From what I could find, the government’s position on such matters is pretty open:
The PRC once held a very conservative attitude to UFOs and forbid any reports until Reform and Opening Up. “It involved things like location and political factors,” says Wu. “But now we welcome UFOs and aliens and expect we could gain their materials and learn their techniques in order to improve our science. If we discover aliens some day, I hope I could communicate and establish a harmonious relationship with them. People could treat them peacefully.” (Source)
What do you think? Do you think Meng Zhaoguo slept with an alien? Tell me in the comments below.
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It’s been a while since I had a Snapple, and maybe that’s why the company is advertising again (or maybe I just noticed), and I came across this commercial recently with an Asian American male office worker:
and you get to see the guy drink a Snapple in a more private office:
I have no idea who the actor is, but hopefully his career will move on to bigger and better things. These kinds of commercials is what I recall Randall Park doing before he got he made it big in movies and television.
In July, I went with my family and friends to Las Vegas to watch my Los Angeles Lakers play in the Summer League. For those who don’t know, Summer League is sort of like Major League Baseball’s spring training but with rookies and second year players. This year was an extra special because we got to watch the young UCLA phenomenon and Lakers’ #2 draft pick Lonzo Ball play—by the way, he’s as good as advertised.
Because Vegas is so close to LA, many of the people who go to Summer League games are there to see the Lakers. In other words, it means you have to get there early if you want to score good seats—other than the front rows, seating is open. On the night we went, the Lakers were playing at 7:00 pm so we got there around four.
It’s not that exciting to watch games where you don’t have a vested interest in the players or the team. So we were watching the non-Lakers games sort of passively. And being the father of a five-year-old who has the attention span of a gnat, I spent a lot of the non-Lakers games trying to keep my son amused and well fed. That’s why it took me a while before I noticed something unusual.
During the Boston-Dallas game people were going crazy and cheering every time one player touched the ball. I quickly realized it was the Asian (Chinese) player, Ding Yanyuhang. Not only would they cheer, but they would shout MVP. Here’s a YouTube clip I found. Around minute 2:14 you can hear the audience chanting.
I did not cheer or chant because I wasn’t sure if the crowd was genuinely excited to see this particular Asian player or because they were mocking him. My first instinct was that they were making fun of him. Of course, I assume they were going for the old cliché that Asian guys are short and can’t play sports—this even though Ding is 6’7”.
When I realized what was going on, I asked my friends if they thought the crowd was mocking Ding. They all shrugged—they weren’t sure either. I would like to note that none of them participated in the cheering or chanting with the rest of the crowd.
I would have overlooked all of this had I not heard what was coming out of the mouths of a group of young girls about half-dozen rows above me. They were making chopstick references as they cheered Ding on. I turned around and glared at them and tried to catch the eye of one of the parents or chaperones but they didn’t notice me.
Thinking back now, I would like to believe that the entire arena wasn’t being racist—or at the very least insensitive. I mean, I would have thought that with the successes of Asian baseball players and Yao Ming/Jeremy Lin, we would be past the stereotype that Asians couldn’t play sports.
To be fair, no one was shouting racist epithets at the player—as far as I knew—and there were Asians (Americans?) in the arena who were cheering along with everyone else—even in the above clip. And I only found this out while writing this article, but Ding really was the MVP of the Chinese league. So shouting MVP was at least accurate because he was in fact a most valuable player—although I’d be surprised if the crowd watching the game that day actually knew that.
The reason I’m writing this a month after it happened is because it still bothers me. I vacillate between feeling outraged and also wondering if I was being too sensitive. What do you think?
I think I first heard of Kristina Wong (“solo performer, writer, actor, educator, culture jammer, and filmmaker”) around her antics of trying to marry her dream husband, Taiwanese American NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin, and her viral TV interview on which was freaking hilarious on why everyone wants to date Asian women. Last April 2016, I also had a chance to catch her live in her excellent, excellent solo performance of “The Wong Street Journal.”
Wong has now released a web series called “Kristina Wong’s How to Pick Up Asian Chicks” that has funny women like me, Asa Akira (the porn star), Amy Hill (“Crazy Ex Girlfriend” and “Unreal”) and child actor Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (“Modern Family”) and 15 other APIA women. The premise goes:
“Essentially, there exists a genre of self-published books written by white men on how to pick-up Asian women with such literary titles as “Asian Milf Hunting” and “Everyman’s Guide to Asian Sex.” In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” I had Asian American women read and respond to some of their writing on camera. I bought six of these books (with my hard earned money) and we are releasing one episode per book!”
Here are the videos – enjoy!
NBA / Brooklyn Nets basketball player Jeremy Lin during the offseason returns to his native Bay Area for a short while before he does his annual pilgrimage to Asia – usually Taiwan and China, where he has a strong fan base. Recently, he posted what life is like on YouTube when he’s back:
“Just another day in the life in the Bay Area! Working on staying healthy and excited for this upcoming season. Make sure you subscribe and leave a comment with what types of videos you’d like to see!”
I’m assuming Lin crashes at his parents’ place in Palo Alto, but I could be wrong. The Bay Area is expensive, but Lin could certainly afford a place given the NBA contracts he’s signed (which would have been a good investment since real estate has gone stratospheric in the past five+ years). Although I live in the next town over, I have yet to bump into Lin during the offseason, even though I’ve been confused for his father at least once and live in the next town over!
From the video, it looks like he eats lunch at the Chipotle near the Costco I shop at in Mountain View. And he has acupuncture in Mountain View as well – at HZ Acupuncture.
I’d still love to interview him one-on-one one of these days, though I do see him whenever he’s in the Bay Area playing against the Golden State Warriors.
Lisa Ko’s debut novel, The Leavers, follows a mother and son separated by immigration agents, borders, and new families. Deming Guo wakes up one day in the Bronx to find that his mother Polly has disappeared. Soon, he is Daniel Wilkinson of upstate New York. We follow Daniel as he struggles through high school, the emotional turmoil of his mom’s abrupt departure, makes a friend who isn’t white, makes a friend who was adopted from China (same but different), and graduates high school. Until he learns some information about his mom’s whereabouts.
The novel flits back and forth between Daniel’s story and Polly’s, told from her own perspective. But while we follow Daniel’s story more or less linearly, Polly’s unfolds more circuitously. From her present life in China married to a successful businessman who doesn’t know she ever had a son, we follow Polly’s life backwards and around: Days raising Deming in the Bronx to her life as a child in China, to the terrifying series of events that led to her forced separation from her son unfolding in the very last pages.
This is a story about family, about bonds that are broken and reforged. About immigration and injustice. About forgiveness and moving forward. Who are the people who live in between and how will they find their way? Lisa Ko’s two protagonists are deeply human, flawed and enticing, shaped by circumstances often beyond their control, yet seemingly fully aware of the choices they make. In the end, Polly and Deming search for themselves, in each other and in constant turmoil over what kind of life to lead. Parts of The Leavers are truly gripping, stunning in their storytelling arc, in other places, a bit slow, but overall, Ko offers an interesting arc and a truth about our current time.
Back in July, I was able to attend Politicon (think of it as Comic-Con for political geeks) in Pasadena, California. This was the third year it was being held – I had first learned about it last year, but had planned on going to the Democratic National Convention (which I did), so didn’t make any plans to attend. This year, I wanted to check the 2-day event out, especially after reading about this panel: Asian American Pacific Islanders: Crucial Vote in Swing States:
“Asian Americans could make up the margin of victory in almost every swing state, and they have more business and consumer economic power than any other minority group. But what are their politics? And why are no politicians trying to court them? This panel looks at how to reach these enigmatic voters. Moderator: Richard Lui Panelists: Bill Wong, Hon. Judy Chu, Lou Diamond Phillips, Steven Olikara.”
I’ve met Richard Lui and Congresswoman Judy Chu, but hadn’t met or heard of Bill Wong or Steven Olikara. And to be honest, I hadn’t realized (or maybe forgotten) that actor, producer & activist Lou Diamond Phillips was an Asian American (“He was born in the Philippines and numbers among his ethnic extractions Filipino,Cherokee Indian, Scottish-Irish, Hawaiian and Hispanic blood.”) – he’s made his racial ambiguity play to his advantage and has played different ethnicities in his acting career (I most remember him from the movie, Stand and Deliver).
Panelist Steven Olikara did note that the room was full of Asian Americans, but to be honest, given that the attendance of Politicon 2017 was estimated to be around 10,000 people, that panel room maybe 200 hundred Asian Americans. Relative to those who attended and also the population of Greater Los Angeles, which is approximately 11% of the population), I was again disappointed.
I was most interested to see and hear Congresswoman Chu speak:
There was a lot more the panelists had to say, but if you’re interested, you can take a look for yourself in the YouTube video.
Overall, it’s is exciting to see more Asian Americans getting involved in politics. But I think there could be so much more involved than we are today. But my frustration must be tempered with the demographic realities that most Asian Americans (something like over 70%) were born outside of the United States, and that many immigrated to the U.S. in the past two decades.