Asian American Commercial Watch: Yamaha Piano Red Envelope Commercial

When I saw this television commercial recently by Yamaha, I felt like Yamaha is really targeting and reinforcing the Asian stereotype that we all play the piano or violin. LOL!

But seriously, it was only after watching the commercial on YouTube and seeing the title of the video as ‘Yamaha Piano Red Envelope Commercial’ did I realize that this was directly targeting Chinese Americans, or more broadly, East Asians, since giving red envelopes is very traditional, especially during the Lunar New Year. There is a specific Mandarin version of the commercial as well.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a happy Asian American family in a U.S. television commercial, especially with the kid seemingly enjoying playing the piano.

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Din Tai Fung Opening in Las Vegas in 2020


I was excited and saddened to hear that Din Tai Fung is opening in Las Vegas in the future:

“Din Tai Fung, the Taiwanese restaurant chain known for its xiao long bao, will open a location at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas next year.

The new restaurant is taking over the space in the casino formerly occupied by the Aria Cafe. It will include an open kitchen where customers can watch cooks hand-stuffing and folding the soup dumplings. Besides xiao long bao, it will also serve pot stickers, pork buns, noodle soups and fried pork chops.”

Excited, since I travel occasionally to Las Vegas mostly for work to attend tradeshows (or to see Michelle Kwan), and love to check out new Din Tai Fung’s. Saddened because it was a dream of mine to open one up with a good college friend in Las Vegas. Alas, we will have to try to open one in another city …

Speaking of which, back in September, I was able to finally visit the Din Tai Fung in the Portland-area:

which is actually a suburb of Portland – Tigard, in a Westfield mall. I just had some XLBs and lo mein, which were up to the quality, but not as pricy as in San Jose.

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Asian American Commercial Watch: Subaru Crosstrek’s Android Auto & Emergency Text

I saw this commercial as a pre-roll on a web video and thought it was funny. I’m an Android person and definitely want Android Auto support in my next car.

Seriously though, who carries toilet paper with them in the car? I guess maybe if you’re going camping?


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A Short Review: Float

Disney+ launched this week, and everyone is raving about the hundreds of movies and tv shows available for streaming.  These are the same ones that we 90’s kids grew up watching. Who wouldn’t be excited?

The Disney channel was a staple in my household and a huge part of my childhood. While the nostalgia and excitement kicked in, I was mostly looking forward to one Pixar short in particular – Float. Float is part of the Sparkshorts series, about a Filipino dad who finds out that his son has the ability to float. This short is directed and brought to life by Bobby Rubio, a Filipino American whose idea stemmed from his relationship with his own son. This is huge!

Growing up as a Filipino American, I didn’t see characters that looked like me, let alone represent my identity. When I first found out about Float, I was ecstatic. I told myself, “it was about time we see faces and stories like ours on screen!” Pixar and Disney are platforms that will make an impact across the globe, and this is just the beginning!

Like any Pixar film, there are Easter eggs. One being the mug with a print of the Philippine flag, and another right next to it is a San Diego sign.  Both of which are a nod to the director who grew up in Paradise Hills, San Diego. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that the father and son both have prominent facial features that resemble Filipinos. While not all Filipinos look like them, it’s a sense of familiarity because it’s highly likely that we know of a family or friend who reminds us of these characters.

Filipinos and Filipino Americans have been widely misrepresented and underrepresented in media, and it’s so crucial for us to continue creating and make sure our stories exist. So any time I see Filipinos and Filipino Americans work, I make sure that I support the work by sharing it because if we don’t, who will? If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Bobby Rubio’s short on Disney+ today!

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Netflix Sets Tuesday December 17, 2019 For Ronny Chieng Comedy Special

There’s no trailer for the Netflix special, but I think Ronny Chieng’s appearance on ‘The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon’ this past April is a kind of preview.

Netflix recently announced a stand-up comedy special with comedian and actor, Rony Chieng:

“Netflix announced that Ronny Chieng’s stand-up comedy special, “Asian Comedian Destroys America!,” will premiere Dec. 17. In his Netflix comedy debut, Chieng will share his perspective on the effects of consumerism while theorizing the efficacy of the United States under an Asian-American president. All of his experiences combined with his ideas will culminate in his personal theory on what will really make America great.”

The first time I had heard of Ronny Chieng was when he first appeared as a new “correspondent” on ‘The Daily Show,’ and I was wondering, who the hell he was and why didn’t the show get an Asian American for an American television show? But I’ve grown to love him and his humor on the show, and absolutely loved him in ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’

Looking forward to seeing the special!

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Meeting HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ & CRA’s Jimmy O. Yang – One Funny Guy

Season 6 Trailer (Final Season) for ‘Silicon Valley’

When I saw that actor, standup comedian, and writer Jimmy O. Yang was going to be performing Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco, I wanted to see him perform. While waiting for a standby ticket to see the last show, I had heard a lot of positive comments from others on the show, and even one person stating he thought he was funnier than Ken Jeong, who I had also seen at Cobb’s.

I first became aware of Jimmy when he appeared on the hilarious HBO comedy Silicon Valley, which is in its final season.  The show is a hilarous parody of the industry (if you get this, then you know what I mean – I live and work in Silicon Valley, and I’ve worked with engineers like this).   To be honest, at the beginning and for a while, I wasn’t a great fan of Jimmy’s character of Jian-Yang but have come to appreciate the caricature. Even though he didn’t have a ton of screen time in Crazy Rich Asians, I *LOVED* Jimmy as Bernard Tai in the film – he definitely made the most of his time (as did well as his film castmate, Ronny Chieng).

I got a chance to meet Jimmy during an optional ‘meet and greet.’  I had to take a photo with him with my beloved ‘Pied Piper’ t-shirt, the fictional startup in ‘Silicon Valley’ where the protagonists work.

I had blogged about Jimmy also when he appeared on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,’ and mentioned that I hoped to meet him one day – mission accomplished! When I did meet him, I had mentioned that I was a big fan of ‘Silicon Valley’ and his role in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and told him that I even did a “Gold Open” buyout for the film for the San Francisco Bay Area chapters of the Asian America alumni associations of the Ivy League (as well as Duke), which I mentioned in my non-spolier review of the film.

As for his standup comedy routine, I have to say he’s pretty hilarious. I might even agree that he might be funnier than Ken Jeong’s act. Maybe Jimmy should consider jumping out of the trunk of a car naked, like Ken did in ‘The Hangover’ which catapulted Ken into fame. Seriously, Jimmy’s got talent and I hope more people can see him live or on TV. Jimmy, along with comedians like Ali Wong, Ken Jeong, and Asiv Mandi (who I also saw at Cobb’s), shows that Asian Americans can be other than your stereotypical Model Minority.

Jimmy’s recent show in Seattle was taped for an upcoming comedy special.  Wishing the best to Jimmy and I hope you can catch him live!


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Float: A Pixar Short Film Featuring Filipino American Characters Debuts November 12

After its short film Bao won an academy award for short films, Pixar is debuting another short featuring Asian Americans/Canadians.  Float, by Bobby Rubio, is about a father who discovers that his son is different.  In a first for Pixar films, the characters are Filipino American.  Writer/producer Rubio talks about his film in this article, which contains the above video.

Float is part of a series of films from Pixar’s Sparkshorts program, designed to find new storytellers from within Pixar’s ranks.  Float debuts on November 12, 2019, on Disney+, Disney’s new streaming channel.

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Remembering Asian and Pacific Islander Veterans: Maggie Gee, WWII WASP Pilot

Maggie Gee was a pioneering Asian American pilot, physicist, and political activist.  She was one of two Chinese American women in United State’s Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program during World War II.  One task she had as a pilot was towing a low  flying target for live ammunition shooting practice!  In the video shown above, she tells her story.  In 2009, Gee, along with all the other living WASP pilots, received the Congressional Medal of Honor.  A book about her, called Sky High:  The True Story of Maggie Gee, was written by Marissa Moss.

Gee died in 2013.  A campaign was started to rename Oakland International Airport after her with this petition.

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The End of an Era: ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Not Returning After Season 6

With great sadness that I read that ‘Fresh Off The Boatis being canceled after its current sixth season:

“When Fresh Off the Boat first premiered in 2015, it was the first time I saw a family on-screen that not only looked like mine but shared similar sentiments and memories of trying to balance contrasting cultures and heritages. But after four years and six seasons, it was announced on Friday that Fresh Off the Boat would be canceled after its sixth season. Despite the news, the series will forever be a trailblazer that paved the path for talent and films that have become instrumental to the media representation of Asians.

Since airing, Fresh Off the Boat became the longest-running sitcom revolving around an Asian-American family in broadcast TV history, according to Vulture. Each week, viewers have tuned in to mainstream television to understand one family’s experience of emigrating from Taiwan to America and coming into their own as minorities. It addressed themes of immigration, the American Dream, and cultural assimilation through the lens of parental characters Jessica and Louis Huang and their three sons Eddie, Emery, and Evan Huang. Despite its groundbreaking run on ABC, the show’s ratings have declined in the past few years, per Zap2It, making its cancelation barely a surprise.”

‘Fresh Off The Boat’ was the first U.S. television show since Margaret Cho’s ‘All American Girl,’ which was over twenty years of absence highlighting an Asian American family.

I had the great opportunity to interview Hudson Yang, and his father, Jeff Yang, back in 2015. Most sitcoms are lucky to survive their first season, so in many ways, the show’s cancellation was inevitable. Personally, I was most impressed with the story arc of Eddie dating his white girlfriend without race ever becoming that big of an issue – something I wish I had seen while growing up in the 1980s.

The series is set to conclude in an hour-long series finale set for February 21st, 2020. I am wishing the best to all the cast & crew, and I would like to see the cast in future television, film or more broadly, entertainment careers – whatever path they choose to go from here. I’m hoping that we’ll continue to see Asian American faces and stories being told in the future – it was pretty amazing to see both ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ and ‘Dr. Ken’ on broadcast television at the same time!

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Asian American Commercial Watch: Andrew Yang’s ‘Not the First’ – Medicare for All

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has just released his first television ad that he is going to air.  It is about healthcare, highlighting the need for affordable healthcare for all.

Andrew and his wife, Evelyn, discuss the fact that they have a specials needs / autistic child and how expensive that can be from a healthcare standpoint and move to a Medicare for All system to support American families. I’m all for that!

I’m wondering where this ad will air – probably in lower cost media markets and early caucus/primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

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Has Filipino Food “Arrived?”

Over the years I have seen a number of articles saying that Filipino food has arrived.  Seeing so many for so long brings up some questions.  What does “arrived” mean?  For whom? Does that mean it has become as common or mainstream as Chinese or Thai food?  To me, “mainstream” would require me to see for myself the following three conditions:

  • Numbers of restaurants and/or food trucks with some reasonable amount of non-Filipino customers in significant numbers (greater than one third)
  • Filipino restaurants thriving for a significant amount of time (time scale is years)
  • Filipino restaurants making it in non-Filipino dominated areas (e.g. not in Daly City, Hercules, or Milpitas)

Some recent experiences has led me to make a conclusion about this question.

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Andrew Yang’s San Francisco Rally (Sun 10/27/19) Overview

Although I’ve interviewed and met Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang several times, I’ve never actually attended a rally of his. The previous time Andrew had a rally in San Francisco, I was out of town, or it was held on a weeknight and getting to San Francisco from San Jose on time would have been impossible.

I was finally able to attend one this past Sunday, and it was a blast! I was amazed and impressed with the number of Asian American supporters he had. I hate to say that it takes an Asian American candidate to get many Asian Americans politically involved, but I think that is partially true.

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