8 Asians

Gingee released her new EP Island Blooms last month, right at the spring equinox.

Coco Water

According to her Facebook bio, Gingee (Marjorie Light) is a DJ, producer and vocalist from Los Angeles. DJing and producing since 2003, she is known for her unique take on electronic music, which blends elements of global bass, world music, and hip hop. Her work is a reflection of the sounds and cultures she has been exposed to growing up in Los Angeles as well as the musical world of her ancestors and beyond.

From the percussive rhythms of instruments such as the Filipino kulintang, kettle drum, and cowbells, to synths, turntables, and rapping, she seeks to speak the language of music and poetry and use it to communicate a message of empowerment and celebration.  She has performed at Coachella, South by Southwest, Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, Calentura, and Magic Garage, an art and music festival she founded.

Ilha

Despite growing up in Waipahu and living for 20 years in Kalihi (a reference for my Hawaii peeps; they’re two of the most Filipino neighborhoods on Oahu), I can’t pretend I know a darned thing about Filipino music, either contemporary or ancient.  Still, Gingee’s grooves sound tribal, hurricane-beaten, humid, and warm.  She will remind you of M.I.A. for sure, which already makes her pretty cool, but Gingee’s definitely got some sounds and beats all her own.

I’m sharing this photo, which I’ve stolen from her FB, because it looks like the kulintang is part of her live show, something that has to be unique in her genre, right?  I mean, I’ve seen video of EDM DJs doing their thing, and they never play instruments live, let alone a set of gongs from ancient Southeast Asian cultures.

The first track, “Coco Water,” is fun and celebratory, and it will make you want to get up and shake your thing, if you’re the type to shake your thing.  I’m not, but I did find this some really nice music to listen to while writing.  It’s the highlight of the three-song EP, but all the songs are groovy.

The highlight for me begins at the 1:15 mark in the second track, “Ilha.”  Four measures of a long siren sound kick in.  They’re followed by the same tone, but broken up in a quick staccato, then followed again similarly, but even more rapid-fire, then again, this time not broken up, but faded back and folded over itself, in kind of a multi-voiced chorus at 1:30.

I didn’t comparison-shop.  It’s $2.97 for the whole EP on Amazon, so I didn’t waste any time and just purchased it.

See the Sun

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also:  Gingee played Coachella in weekend 1 and is back for more in weekend 2, beginning this evening.  She writes, “I’m playing 4 sets this week at Coachella!  If you’re around come thru w your amazing self!

  • Thursday: 9:15 pm- 10:30 pm at the dome in camping center lot 8 (THE afterparty spot in case u didnt know)
  • Friday: Sahara stage 12:00 pm-1:35 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am-2pm at the arts and crafts tent in camping center lot 8 (come make dope crafts/swag for FREE!)
  • Sunday: 10 am-2 pm arts and crafts tent (shared set w @djfrancescaharding)”

I’ll update this post with video if any gets posted!

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Someone’s waiting there for me; I know it

Meiko released “Back in the Game” March 16.  “I wrote this song as a ‘going-out anthem’ for the broken-hearted,” she writes on her website.  You know: brush your knees off, get back in there and kick some ass!”

I don’t really care if you believe it

It’s been a while since I last checked in with Meiko (she pronounces it “Meeko”) and I regretted my being out of touch within five seconds of hitting play on my first spin.  The lyrics are positive, but the tune has a dark, echoey, I-may-be-lost-in-a-parking-structure vibe I totally love.  Block out the vocals and you’d feel pretty confident guessing this is a Raveonettes song.

The chanting quality of the chorus goes really nicely with the droning rhythm, and I dig the nice color added by the strumming acoustic and those nice electric guitar fills.  The build-up at the end, especially where Meiko turns her vocals up and out rather than down and in, gives the song a final, uplifting momentum.  No Raveonettes feeling at the end for sure.

I’m back in the game

Who doesn’t love Meiko’s voice?  Add this track to your why-am-I-still-up? playlist.  It’ll make you keenly aware of the loneliness of insomnia but it’ll make you feel like it’ll be okay in the morning, if morning ever gets here.

So let’s play

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also, this wonderful cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.”  Meiko says she’s releasing a covers album this summer, and this is going to be on it.

Though I Get Home by YZ Chin is an intricate series of short intertwined vignettes following a small host of characters tied to Malaysia. Isabella Sin’s time in a notorious prison. Grandfather’s stories about working for a white man when Malaysia was still Malaya. Howie Ho in Silicon Valley. Howie Ho in Malaysia looking for a wife. Isa at a protest. Bets predicting whether the monsoons will come. Ibrahim on patrol, on a mission.

Threads weave through the stories, often invisibly. Together, they offer a deft commentary on life in Malaysia, on individuals living within a globalizing world and a country on the precipice. Some stories occupy just a few pages, others stretch out. Each unfolds carefully into the nitty gritty of humanity. Chin does not shy away from exposing tensions within attitudes about race, democracy, class, family expectations, the state, and more.

I confess, I was often unsure where the book was headed, but found the ride intriguing. Here are ordinary people in all their oddities, trying to make sense of and make decisions in a world that is changing on many dimensions. They are not glamorous, the picture painted is not flattering, and in this there is something fresh and refreshing about Chin’s writing.

There he sat, and there he waited, to see if anything could truly happen to anyone.

Buying a house and applying for a mortgage can be a complicated and intimidating process, but Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans is supposed to make the mortgage part easy:

“Megan may have confidence in the courtroom, but when it comes to her mortgage, she’s in a hairy situation. Luckily for her, there’s Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It lets you apply simply and understand fully so you can mortgage confidently and get approved in minutes. Find the missing link in your mortgage by visiting http://www.RocketMortgage.com.”

Given all the paperwork and signatures I had to go through to get my mortgage and home, I really do wonder how easy Rocket Mortgage does simplify the process. Buying a house and applying for a mortgage is intimidating. I’m for anything that makes the process easier to understand.

I used to stand inside the gates

Priska premiered her new single and accompanying music video last Thursday, following its launch party and performance the previous Saturday.

I became aware of her when I reviewed Voices of Our Vote a year and a half ago.  I wrote that among the 32 artists in the anthology, her “Don’t Go Quietly” was “my favorite vocal on the compilation, and my favorite lyrics, too … Think Sarah McLachlan after a few drinks, with an acoustic guitar and just enough harmonica to make you want to call your ex.”

Last week, I said one of the tracks on Jennifer Zhang’s new EP would make you want to text your ex, leading me to think I may need to confront myself about an issue I seem to have with wanting to reach out to former girlfriends.  For now, I’m going to call it a favorite literary trope.

Running toward the boundary line

If the video doesn’t remind you of Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me,” you’re probably much younger than me, because I thought of it several times.  The mirrors in the desert concept is fine, if slightly baffling for this video.  However, the red thread theme is pretty cool, bringing to mind Theseus and his escape from the Labyrinth, which has an extra layer of niftiness since the Labyrinth on Crete was designed by Daedalus, who escaped with his son Icarus, and this song is called “Fly the Coop.”  Serendipity, baby!  Or maybe not serendipity at all, but still appealing.

It doesn’t please me to say that Priska’s acting in this video is awkward, but I honestly don’t care because her singing is good.  It’s fine when she’s singing the words, but that running round in the sand doesn’t work for her, although I admit I don’t know how awkward anyone would look running through sand while wearing a nice dress.  The edits are nicely done.  Honestly, I might have preferred just a straightforward concert video.

Tonight I fly the coop

Hello!  Can we just meditate on that last high note Priska hits on “coo-oo-oop” at the beginning of the chorus?  And the note on “you” in “catch me if you can” in the second and third choruses?

Her singing style reminds me of a more soulful, better-voiced Edie Brickell with its sense of longing where she breaks certain lines into thinner vocals, although Priska has a lot more substance in the lower notes and a purer tone in the higher notes.  I am a fan of her singing.  I also admit I don’t know a lot about singing and if you hear something different, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Buy the music here on Amazon.  It’s also available on CD Baby but if our referral link is still working, maybe you can throw a few pennies at your favorite editor.

I know there’s more for me

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And this super nice cover of “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman, which if you haven’t seen you really must.

I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert and saw that Jimmy O. Yang, of HBO Silicon Valley fame, was going to be on the show, I was curious as to learn more about him. As I’ve blogged before, I am not a big fan of his character on Silicon Valley, but I was open to learning more about him and was pleasantly surprised that he came to the U.S. at age 13 from Hong Kong, was not a model minority student, and had no idea what to do with his economics degree from UCSD, which took him five years (and he didn’t get into UCLA or USC where he wanted to go, and certainly not Yale, where the previous guest had gone). He was pretty personable and funny during the interview – his first ever on a late night talk show (though he did a stand-up act once on Arsenio Hall).

He talked to Colbert about how he got into the industry and that by coincidence, Mike Judge, one of the creators of Silicon Valley was his commencement speaker and he eventually got his break because of Judge.

Yang was on the show to promote his new book:

Here’s the promotional video he put together for the book:

Best of luck to Yang and I hope to meet him one day! You can learn more about him by checking out his website: http://www.jimmycomedy.com/

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a delightful graphic novel about friendship and secrets and identity and love. Prince Sebastian is supposed to be looking for a bride. But at night, he secretly dons fashion forward dresses and emerges as the mysterious Lady Crystallia with the help of his friend and dressmaker, Frances.

Set in Paris, Jen Wang has created an extraordinary array of imaginative and beautifully drawn dresses and costumes that pepper a story full of heart and growth. What lengths will Frances go to to protect her friend’s secret? And at what cost to her own dreams? As Sebastian and Frances’ friendship evolves, so do the complexities of their choices. Though set in another time, in another place, the two are eminently relatable and lovable for their flaws and successes. Who do they want to be? Who will they be? Neither is perfect. Each encounters obstacles–the weight of expectations, the burdens of secrets, the freedoms of self-expression, the limitations of what looked like success. Together, and individually, they find a way through and the journey is truly charming.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a book to get lost in for an afternoon. A curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and go from one cover to the other. One huge, satisfying whirlwind ride.

Shohei Ohtani, the “Japanese Babe Ruth,” made his Major League debut Thursday for the Los Angeles Angels against the Oakland Athletics, the American Yakult Swallows.  Ohtani went 1 for 5 as the designated hitter, batting 8th in the 6-5 loss to my favorite team on Opening Day.

Ohtani was the most talked-about player in the off-season.  MLB announced his eligibility to play for an American team in November; he signed with Los Angeles two weeks later, and speculation about how the Angels would or should use him has been non-stop ever since.

Ohtani is a unicorn in the Majors: the first player expected to see regular action as both a pitcher and hitter since Babe Ruth in the 1930s.  As a pitcher, he holds the Nippon Professional Baseball record for the fastest pitch ever thrown (102.5 MPH).  As a hitter, he hit a respectable .286 over five seasons with 48 home runs.

He had a less-than-impressive spring training at the plate and on the mound, leading many to suggest that the Angels were hurrying him along, at least in their expectation to use him as both a pitcher and a hitter.

While Ohtani was in the Opening Day lineup as a DH, he didn’t bat Friday against the left-handed Oakland starter Sean Manaea (Ohtani throws right-handed but hits left-handed), and he’s not in the lineup for today’s game, since he’s scheduled to pitch Sunday.

At least for now, this seems to be the Angels’ plan.  Ohtani is fourth in the pitching rotation and will be eased into his role as a hitter, most likely as a DH but not on days before he pitches, and perhaps with limited action against left-handed pitchers.  Slotting him eighth in the batting order further decreases the pressure to become acclimated to American pitching.

However, pressure will undoubtedly be a constant all season as the Japanese media gives him the Ichiro Suzuki treatment.  Most American fans won’t be watching quite as attentively, but until he explodes into stardom or fizzles as a disapointment, he’ll remain one of 2018’s big stories in the Majors.

Sunday’s game against Oakland is at 1:05 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum.

I can’t recall having brought my lunch to work and having it taken. However, in this McDonald’s commercial, that is the premise of this commercial:

“Check out the new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu if you have coworkers at your office stealing your lunch. Choose from McDonald’s menu items like the McChicken® for one dollar and top it off with any size soft drink for only a dollar!”

Paul’s lunch has been taken, so he goes off to McDonald’s to get lunch.

Except for Chicken McNuggets, I don’t go out of my way to eat at McDonald’s unless I’m pressed for time (as In & Out, you do have to wait – but can taste the difference in the burgers).

Boy am I late with this review.  Jennifer Zhang’s new EP Escape Emotion was released August 29 last year, and I’m finally getting to it now.

It isn’t for lack of enthusiasm. I am still stoked to be sharing this music with you on the seven-month anniversary of its dropping. Zhang’s press release says, “Jennifer Zhang performs each track with a breathless, kittenish sensuality. She is established on the web as a popular content creator and pop media/gaming personality. This EP is her second, following her debut James tha dj Presents Jennifer Zhang VS.”

Dreamy, poppy, and breathy

Zhang calls this an “EDM/pop” collection, a pretty broad categorization that splits the EP between its first two tracks and its last three. I hear dream pop more than anything else in these first two songs. Staccato keyboard rhythms with ethereal, super-pleasing melodies complement Zhang’s breathy voice really well, making it better suited for chilling with a martini than getting sweaty on the dance floor, and here is my one major complaint with this record.

Electronic drumbeats seem determined to turn two nice dream-poppy songs into dance tracks, and they feel like slightly lazy DJ mixes. The beats are bland and uninteresting except in a few moments where they’re stripped back and give the keys and vocals the room they deserve. Once track 3, “Knell,” gets going, the beats make the song better, not quite in the spacy way of the best tracks from that third album by The xx, but pretty reminiscent of them.

The star is Zhang’s vocals. There are moments where Zhang unnecessarily moans into her notes like singers of much less talent (a device that sometimes sounds great but on which too many vocalists rely because they can’t hit the notes directly), and while I’m not a fan of the intentional quivering delivery on “Still Feel,” her voice is pleasing and not an imitation of anyone I can think of. The songs at times make me think of Owl City, The xx, the Japanese dream pop your favorite Lyft driver always plays, and Sade, but the vocals don’t remind me of anyone. I kind of want to hear her sing some 80s hair metal.

Press play

The best track is “Collide,” with sweet, layered vocals and the EP’s best lyrics, including the strangely hypnotic “the weird kinetic / so magnetic / we can lay it down / poetic that we can’t connect / when will we come around?” It also has the best vocal moment, when Zhang’s own BGVs stretch out the “colliiiiiiiide, colliiiiiiiiiide” behind her already established rapid delivery of the one-word chorus.

The song I’m least excited about is track 4, and I will admit that late-night slow-jams are not my thing. You know those nights when you’re the last to leave the party, and for whatever reason decide to walk the two miles home, and it seems like it’s the one evening everyone else in town shut it down early? “Drowning” is a great song for that walk’s playlist. Otherwise, it’s the one I’m most likely to skip.

Breakdown

Best song: “Collide”
2nd best song: “Escape Emotion”
Most singable: “Collide”
Song to make you text your ex (don’t do it!): “Still Feel”
Meh: “Drowning”
Extra credit: Check out Zhang’s books, published under Jennfer Chang
Rating: 7/10

Produced by Diana “AutoReiv” Cha and Drew “Kid Original” Krassowski
Written by Jennifer Zhang, Diana “AutoReiv” Cha, Drew “Kid Original” Krassowski, and Glenn Suravech “Mosaic”

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I don’t regularly watch The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, but I saw that one of my favorite Representative Ted Lieu was on the show recently:

“Congressman Ted Lieu makes the case for revoking Jared Kushner’s national security clearance and pushes a bill to rein in the president’s nuclear first-strike capabilities.”

Ever since Trump became President, Lieu is most known for being a hilarious Twitter troll to Trump’s tweets:

“Through his Twitter account, the Congressman has catapulted to a cultish delightfully nerdy social media stardom. Post-election, Lieu has made multiple appearances on cable television, including MSNBC and Real Time with Bill Maher.

If you’re a politics junkie who likes to follow Congresspeople on Twitter — or even if you aren’t, even if just really, really hate Donald Trump — you’ve probably liked a Lieu tweet without realizing it.

Lieu gives the platform credit for lending him access to voters he wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

“Consider that 20 years ago, a person who wanted to have a discussion with their member of Congress would have to call their office. Now people tweet at me,” Lieu said. “I can engage in multiple different conversations with people on Twitter — it’s actually a more intimate way of contacting someone.”

He’s got the fourth highest Twitter following in the House of Representatives, just under California social media powerhouses including Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi.”

I follow Lieu on Twitter, and if you want to, you can too here: https://twitter.com/tedlieu

The Repatriation of Henry Chin, written by Issac Ho and read by Anthony Lee on audiobook, is about a future where the United States has been in an escalating trade war with China which eventually leads to the roundup of all Chinese Americans into “internment” camps—a la, the Japanese Americans during World War II.

This book is a powerful reminder of what could happen to us—as Americans—when we let our fears get the best of us. It’s scary to imagine an assembly center in this day and age at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Or just the idea that you can even lock up an entire group of people for no other crime than being the “wrong” race or ethnicity.

In the book, we follow Henry Chin, who was an ex-military guy turned pharmacist. He’s been trying to live low and raise a hapa daughter after a traumatic war experience in Panama. However, when they start rounding up Chinese Americans, he refuses to comply. He takes his daughter and together they make a run for Canada through the Angeles Crest mountains—with the help of Henry’s army buddy.

My one problem with the story—and don’t get me wrong, this should not deter anyone from reading it—was how Japanese Americans were depicted. There was one part early on when the narrator states that Japanese Americans were wearing Japanese flags to make sure everyone knew they weren’t Chinese. I have a hard time imagining Japanese Americans doing this on many levels. First, we would never wear Japanese flags. And second, we would never sit idly by and allow the government to lock up a whole group of people again.

The concentration camps during World War II scarred the Japanese American community. We still talk about what happened today. It is not hyperbole to write that if a group of Japanese Americans get together, the word “camp” will come up—multiple times. Personally, I’ve dedicated much of my working life to teaching other people about it. We—as a community—have made it a point to make sure it never happens again to anyone ever. After 9/11, Japanese Americans were one of the first groups to come to the defense of Muslim/Arab Americans. So, the idea that Japanese Americans would sit by and do nothing is crazy.

Regardless, The Repatriation of Henry Chin is an important reading for all Americans. I tell people all the time: Today they might be coming after someone else. But if you don’t fight for their rights, tomorrow they could be coming after you. So go out and get this book on Audible or anywhere else audiobooks are sold.

Please note that I received this title for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Ksakai1.