Youtube is acting up as far as searching for the previously cited entries I posted, so here are some of the more recent videos for your entertainment until they get their search function properly enabled. Above, Pacyinz Lyfoung reads her poem about the Hmong diaspora over the last 4,000 years.Here, Kaying Thao reads her memoir excerpt Becoming A Pastor's Kid.
Poetry, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and culture from a Lao American perspective.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Updates Of Note
You'll really want to check this issue out because it features my non-fiction article on the mysterious spirit city of Xieng Khuan in Laos. Some of you may remember the locale from my presentation at Diversicon in August during the Cryptogeography session. And I will say as a writer, I've had a very good experience dealing with the folks at Elder Signs Press, and I hope more people discover them in the coming years ahead.
I've been busy this weekend uploading footage from the recent Camden Coffee Company readings organized by David Zander. We've got the footage of Dr. Gary Yia Lee available now, as well as some additional poems by Pacyinz Lyfoung and a short non-fiction essay by Kaying Thao at www.youtube.com
Over the next few days I hope to have the remaining footage from the Outsiders Within release party up. We recently added Kim Park Nelson's "Shopping For Children In the International Marketplace" and will soon be adding more.
And that's about it for now. Ho ho ho!
Friday, December 22, 2006
The first ad is up at Youtube for the new reading "Parallax" that Hmong American writer Pacyinz Lyfoung and I will be giving at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis on Friday, January 26th, 2007 starting at 7:00 PM.
It's free and it'll change the way you look at Hmong, Lao and Asian American poetry. With door prizes, surprises and fun for all!
Made possible in part by generous donations and support from COMPAS and the Loft Literary Center as well as our friends and family. See you there!
(And a special thanks to Kachouaz Lyfoung for providing the music to this video...)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Asian American Poetry Videos Online
Well, over on Youtube, we just had the addition of Mong-Lan's performance in Kuala Lumpur. The music is a little distracting for me, but as far as I can figure out, it's one of the first times we've seen her giving a reading. Google it, and there's an old interview I did with her a year or two ago running around online.
But anyway, just for an interesting contrast, here's a snippet from a Bao Phi performance.
Hopefully, we'll be seeing some more good stuff coming up soon.
Monday, December 18, 2006
From the Dept. of D'oh!
Over at NPR they've reported in "Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers" the Golden State Fence Company will be fined $5 million dollars for using undocumented workers, including some who helped to construct some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.
In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally. Thanks to Power and Politics for the heads up on this.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I mean, really- there WAS a time when it was all music videos, the whole music video, all the time, with only an occasional VJ there to put it into context.
Well, if you've got a fast connection, some new poems of mine have gone up on youtube as part of an effort to put more genuine literary content on the internet besides some of the crappier stuff that's already out there. Particularly among the presently poorly under-represented Asian American poetry scene (as of 12/06 currently hovering at a little over 30 entries or so. )
I'm happy with most of the results- some glitches here and there on the sound, but that couldn't be helped due to some emergency surgery I had to do on the videotape at one point. I'm glad most of it is intact as it is...
But anyway, search youtube.com for Bryan Thao Worra or "Laotian American Poetry", and you'll have an opportunity to see what's some of my poetry sounds like, as read by the author.
Here's Surprises In America, that first appeared in the journal London Ghetto Poets a few years back.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Hmong tragedy in CA
According to the article, "A boy lost, a rift bared for Hmong, authorities" By Crystal Carreon:
"Everybody feels that the sheriff really didn't use the effort to get the boy," said Paul Moua, president of the Hmong American Association, a nonprofit group that serves Sutter and Yuba counties. "That's how we feel -- that we were not being treated equally."
Sutter County Undersheriff J. Paul Parker said resources and risk -- not race -- were the reasons authorities abandoned the search of the bypass hours after the boy disappeared amid gunfire on Nov. 22. That evening, the current was fast and some depths dropped to 20 feet...
But really, you should check out the rest of the article and see for yourself. It's an important read.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Looking back on Anti-Asian Violence, 1994-2002
I always thought they provided a very sobering picture of the situation today, although there were areas where the results could have been improved, including better analysis of the meaning of some of these statistics. Still, it's a good place to start, and for those of us working on anti-violence issues, it's worth a refresher.
Reflecting: 1 Year Later.
Asian-Americans must speak up
BRYAN THAO WORRA
In the wake of the Chai Soua Vang verdict, now, more than ever, Asian-Americans need to talk candidly about race and racism, or the American dream shall never truly be ours. Throughout the trial, Asian-American leaders uttered little more than politically correct, safe pronouncements hoping for fairness and justice, but said little to help others understand: Yes, racism against Asian-Americans is serious.
The fear Asian-Americans have for their life is connected to a long history of racism we have every reason to take seriously. When Vincent Chin was murdered in 1982 in suburban Detroit, his white killers never served a day in prison. They paid only a fine of $3,000. They called him a "Jap," caving his skull in with baseball bats. The scant punishment implied a license to kill Asians.
In 1998, a 13-year-old Hmong girl, Panhia Lor, was gang-raped, beaten and murdered, her battered corpse left to rot in a Minnesota park like a pile of trash. Her killers called her "gook" and "chink" as they raped her. We were told it was not a hate crime. It was not a racist act.
In 2001, Thung Phetakoune, a 62-year-old veteran from Laos, died after Richard Labbe cracked Thung's skull open on the sidewalks of New Hampshire. Labbe told police, "What's going on is that those Asians killed Americans and you won't do anything about it, so I will. Call it payback." Phetakoune risked his life for Americans stationed in Laos. Trying to rebuild his life, this is how it ended.
In January 2005, 36-year-old Tou Yang, a father of three, was shot at home by the Milwaukee police seven times, including three times in the head because the police could not find a nonviolent resolution, like tear gas or a stun gun. Tou Yang's case was eerily similar to that of Tong Kue, another 36-year-old Hmong man was shot at home in Detroit in June 1998 by police.
We're told: "There isn't a pattern. It's just a fluke." We're told to turn a blind eye to a culture that consistently depicts us as aliens, foreigners and the enemy. Every time someone calls us a "gook," "chink" or "Chinaman," ignore it like good Uncle Toms.
Why can't we laugh it off? Because words that demean us pave the way for greater violence. Filmmaker Gode Davis, researching "American Lynching: Strange and Bitter Fruit," estimates as many as 200 Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos died from American lynchings, yet we never confront this.
It's time we call things as we see them, because things only get worse, not better, from our silence. Whether it's politically correct can no longer matter. We must hold America accountable for how it treats Asians, or else the dream will fail us just as it failed the Chinese laborers who died ignominiously constructing the American railroad, or the Japanese unjustly forced into internment camps during World War II while German- and Italian-Americans were not.
After 30 years, most of the U.S. remains unaware of the Southeast Asians who died to protect Americans during the Southeast Asian wars of the 20th century.
The culture we get is the culture we make. So, someone needs to say it: Asian-Americans are sick of the slurs, ignorance and stereotypes. We're fed up with injustice against our community. We want life, liberty and happiness as much as anyone else.
And if that means speaking up, so be it. Because this is our country, too.
Disappointment in Priorities
And no one is talking at length about the issue of 'material support' provisions in the PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act.
US policies that will particularly affect Burmese, Hmong, Montagards and other refugee populations from Asia and around the world in very real and concrete ways.
I WILL say that as long as we all get in an uproar over c-list celebrities making an ass of themselves but turn a blind eye to real policies and issues that affect our community, we forfeit our right to be surprised at the lack of genuine progress in Asian Pacific America.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
DAY Project Chon Buri Xiong Mtg. Friday
Please join them this Friday for their weekly meeting to continue their efforts to help the Xiong family find justice for their son. They will be sharing updates from last week, as well as discussing how we can support them as the new year approaches.
Meeting to Support the Xiong Family of Warren, MI
Friday, December 15, 2006
6:00 - 7:00 PM
3061 Field Ave.
Following the meeting, please join DAY Project at
their Holiday Party from 7:00-8:00 PM
Contact:dayproject [at] gmail [dot] com
Monday, December 11, 2006
Southeast Asian 'Terrorists' and the Patriot Act
This of course could also apply to Lao, Tai Dam, Iu Mien, and any number of other refugees whose families or friends had been part of the US / Royal Lao Government army and anti-LPDR resistance.
To the United States, a terrorist is defined under Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d):
—The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
—The term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving the territory or the citizens of more than one country.
—The term “terrorist group” means any group that practices, or has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.
Right-wing Republican Hmong told me I was being paranoid and the PATRIOT ACT had no relevance to our Hmong community.
But a recent alert from Hmong National Development has pointed out that this is a very real issue:
On Tuesday, December 12, 2006, Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND) along with Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), Human Rights First, and numerous other local and national organizations will participate in a national letter writing campaign to the White House regarding “material support” legislation.
They point out that:
...thousands of vulnerable refugees have been prevented from receiving asylum or being resettled in the U.S. because of sweeping immigration provisions included in the USA PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act that relate "material support" to "terrorist" organizations.
The government's concept of "material support" is so broad that it ends up affecting refugees who do not support terrorism, and even refugees who are actually the victims of violent groups. In addition, refugees who have arrived in the U.S. may be affected when they adjust their immigration status in order to gain permanent residence. The material support bar is currently impacting refugees from around the world, including Hmong and Montagnards.
And added this succinct summary:
How does “material support” affect the Hmong community?
In 2003, some 15,000 Hmong-Lao refugees in Thailand, primarily at Wat Thamkrabok, were given the opportunity to seek resettlement in the United States. However, this process left out thousands of other Hmong refugees who left their refugee camps for fear of repatriation and found relative sanctuary in Wat Thamkrabok, a Buddhist temple in central Thailand. Under the broad definition of the “material support” statute, both groups are in danger of having their immigration status indefinitely held up – whether applying for citizenship in the U.S. or awaiting resettlement in Thailand. Many members of the Hmong community have fought alongside U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. The broad definition of providing “material support” to “terrorist organization(s)” implies that by taking up armed resistance against the Lao Communist government, many of these Hmong people have engaged in “terrorist activity” against the government.
They've asked the community to:
Send a letter to the White House on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 in order to let President Bush know that community members across the country expect the removal of the "material support" bar as it applies to refugees and asylum seekers.
As always, you may send your letter to the White House via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you may send the letter via the post office to: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20500.
I'm going to go an extra step and point out that this has implications not only for the present and immigration questions, but long-term issues for our community.
For example, would Hmong and Lao candidates for high-level positions in the State Department or the military be denied security clearance for their involvement with 'terrorists'?
Hmong and Lao researchers who work for labs with government contracts or medical facilities who treat government employees could suddenly face difficulties because of these 'ties', even if the act was a simple as buying a music CD put out by a group who wanted to donate clothes and money to armed refugees in Laos.
Even if those arms were just used for subsistence hunting, for example, how does one prove that they weren't used in an attack on the Lao government? And who's to say what constitutes an attack? If a shot was fired, even accidentally, or in self-defense, will the law recognize the finer shades of gray on the matter?
Counter-terrorism is a serious and valid issue, but at the same time, we need to understand the effects and implications of our legislative language and fine tune it to effectively defeat terrorism without it coming at the expense of our families and allies.
So, hopefully we'll see some people take time to drop a quick note off to the president on the matter tomorrow. It's only a few minutes, but it will make a difference in the lifetimes of those we care for.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
A Special Note of Thanks
Holiday Reading: December 23
An evening of poetry and music with Valeng Cha, Xis Xiong, Bryan Thao Worra, and friends:
Saturday, December 23, 2006: 7-9 p.m.
Camden Coffee House
1500 44th Ave North.
(corner of Humboldt Ave North and 44th Ave in North Mpls.)
Free and open to the public.
It will be great if you can make it!
Kissed By The Sun: Reading On Thursday
A Carol Connolly Reading Series Women of Color Reading
Minneapolis, MN, on December 14, 2006.
May Lee is a former member of the Hmong spoken word group, FIRE (Free Inspiring Rising Elements) and has been published in Bamboo Among the Oaks, Paj Ntaub Voice, Unarmed Journal and The St. Paul Almanac.
Tiana Newbauer-Hampton, a member of GNO (Girls Night Out), a polymaedumacated (BA honours at First Nations University of Canada in poli-sci, a certificate in Russian Language and study of Aboriginal Peoples of Siberia from Tomsk State Pedagogical University, and a Masters in Telecommunications from Saint Mary's) life-long student.
The reading will be at 7:00 PM at Patrick's Cabaret on 3010 Minnehaha Ave in Minneapolis and is hosted by Sherry Quan Lee.
All Carol Connolly Readings are free and open to the public. This Carol Connolly Reading is sponsored in part by Patrick's Cabaret. For more information, go to www.intermediaarts.org.
Dr. Gary Yia Lee to Teach Hmong Literature
The class will be held Wednesday evenings from 4:20 – 8:20 p.m.
It is possible for Hmong writers and educators from the community to audit this course. Many of the novels/reading materials will be in Hmong. This promises to be a very unique course.
For more information and to check on above details contact the Hmong Studies Center:
(Inquire now to confirm starting dates and how to register for Jan 2007)
Justice for Chon Buri Xiong
The following is a brief summary of the case details:
On September 17, 18 year-old Chon Buri Xiong was fatally shot 27 times in his home by the Warren police. The Xiong family has suffered a great tragedy and is very upset about the incident.
The Macomb County prosecutor has closed the case, stating that the police officers acted properly. However, the Xiong family’s side of the story has not been taken seriously by the authorities and has not been repored by the media.
The Xiong family deserves justice. They have many concerns about the police behavior that require a deeper investigation.
It actually reminds me a great deal of the Tong Kue case earlier in Detroit in 1998 and the shooting of Tou Yang in Milwaukee in 2005.
In all of this time, I'd hoped that we would have reached a greater sense of dialogue between our communities, the city and the police.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
UN Urgently Racing To Prevent Hmong Deportation
Officials from the United Nations refugee agency were involved in urgent talks Friday to try to prevent the deportation of 152 Hmong back to Laos.
A spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said they believed the Hmong would be at "serious risk of persecution or loss of life" if returned to Laos, according to a recent article in the Nation.
New Additions To The Family
On my reading list: Nextwave
Written by Warren Ellis, it's a hilarious respite from comics who have been taking themselves way too seriously, bludgeoning us with irritating year-long cross-over mega-maxi-events aping the Crisis on Infinite Earths. (Civil War and 52 can end any minute now, thank you...)
Nextwave is absurd and refreshing with great characters and stories told in two-issue arcs. The recently released hardcover collects the first 6 issues and is a great introduction to the series.
Ellis described Nextwave as "an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode."
And you know what, it works. I'd especially recommend it for those who grew up reading comics during the 1980s and 90s. Check it out.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
President Sharkey The Impaler
But it looks like it's true:
Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey is running for President in 2008 on the vampire... I mean, Independent ticket. You can check out his forms here.
Apparently he was found not guilty on all of the other business, and he's back in action at http://www.theimpalerforpresident2008.us
And he has a documentary out about him. No, not Sharkey's Machine. It's Impaler, A Satanic Vampire Runs for Governor at http://www.impalerthemovie.com/
I think there are still some parts of his foreign and domestic policy to flesh out, but I will say this: While some may resent the fact that he's running on pure moxy at this point, my immediate retort to those who'd outright dismiss his candidacy is:
Although this is an EXTREME example, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say: If we don't want the United States to be a plutocracy or to fall under the sway of oil and energy dynasties who willfully compromise our civil liberties, then we need to work to create a system in which ANY American has an equal chance for election.
It's time to make the United States of America live up to its promises.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Gojira Shaped Building? We can only hope!
This would make it one of the only buildings in the world I'd happily pay money to see built.
As the creator of Giant Lizard Theater, I heartily endorse this 'project' ;)
Thanks, Ironic Sans!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Blame the Pornorgraphers
New addiction: Pirates and Booty
Still, I'm also going to say that I'm getting sick of games that make me hunt and hunt for the pieces that I need, like, oh, the Dungeons & Dragons Miniature Games.
I'm not even going to go into how many boxes it took for me to finally get my weretiger figure to use for my module "Yer and The Tiger" based on the traditional Hmong folklore story.
Yeah, right. Jerk.
But hey, I'm ranting now.
Friday, December 01, 2006
New Art Books On My Shelf
First up, while kind of macabre for the holidays, I've been meaning to get my hands on it for quite some time: Barlowe's Inferno and Brushfire Illuminations.
They're two really stellar books if you can find them. It's next to impossible these days without going online, but it's worth it.
I'm also poring through the collection The Art of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos that I'm going to classify as pretty close to a classic, but not perfect.
Frankly, I'm going to have go on the record of saying the big C is way over-exposed now, and has fallen far from the initial monument of mind-blasting madness he was when H.P. Lovecraft first wrote about him.
And while Chaosium, Fantasy Flight and so many other great companies have done the world a great service in keeping his work, controversies and all, in the public eye, the problem is that it's also rendered these unstoppable, cosmic horrors as something defeatable by ordinary humans.
These days, my wife has a hard time seeing Cthulhu as anything more than just a giant walking squid. Sigh. Really, he's quite a scary entity when you encounter him in context... oh, never mind.
My other quibble is extremely subjective, and it's merely that some artists clearly understand the material, and what is horror in fantastic art, while others sadly, miss the boat by miles and would be better off apprenticing themselves to shopping mall caricaturists. But I'm not going to name names.
It's the holidays. :)
Girls Read Comics And They're Pissed
One of my favorite posts from her so far has been when she takes artists like Greg Land to task for crappy photo-referencing and a propensity for giving characters 'porn-face'
I mean really. This is supposed to be Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four?
Give it a read, make it a regular stop.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
This I Believe
Give it a listen if you get a chance.
Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace
Many are equating it to a story on par with The Diary of Anne Frank, and it's apparently a huge best seller in Vietnam already.
It will be translated into English as "Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace" and released in 2007.
I'm not that keen regarding the voice they used to read Dang Thuy Tram's work in this report, but overall the audio version is quite effective. This looks like it's going to be one to watch next year.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Minneapolis Reading This Saturday
An Evening Celebration of Hmong New Year
With local poets and writers: Pacyinz Lyfoung, Bryan Thao Worra and Mhonpaj Lee.
Special Guest: Hmong Anthropologist and novelist Gary Yia Lee in his historic world debut public reading of his creative work.
7 – 9 p.m.
1500 44th. Ave North.
(Corner of Humboldt Ave North and 44th Ave North)
MC: David Zander
Everyone is invited!
Outsiders Within Aftermath
Here's a brief video clip from my reading that evening. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to post more throughout the week!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Bryan's New York Play Debut + Other Stuff Too.
Ed Lin, the author of the hilarious comedy novel Waylaid, currently adapted as the film The Motel, is putting on an outrageous, scandalous and amusingly perverse reading festival of short plays in two parts
(with a 15-minute intermission):
Sex and No Sex.
Saturday Nov. 18 at 7:30 pm
Ensemble Studio Theater
549 West 52nd Street
New York, New York
No Sex features:
Vulnerability Assessment by Chris Harcum
Laundromat by Nora Chau
The Battleby Debra Castellano
Six Feet is Deeper Than You Think by Jerry Finkelstein
The Last Hmong Folktale by May Lee
Flight to Flight From by J.P. Chan
I Look Like My Picture by Eileen Rivera
The Felix Awards by Natalie Kim
Black Box by Bryan Thao Worra
The Roosevelt Cousins Thoroughly Sauced by Michael Lew
A Day at the Beach by Ted Sod
I Want You by David Deblinger
Incompatible by Aileen Cho
F2F by Julie Wilder
Now, I don't often say this, but I'll place the strongest caveat that my short play, Black Box, is absolutely family unfriendly as it takes on race, sex, porn, desire, Borders, borders, warped humor and oh, more sex, and it will absolutely never get performed in Minnesota.
Come early as the elevator shaft can only accomdate 3 people at a time.
That's not some bizarre innuendo. :)
Sunday, November 12, 2006
New Blogs To Check Out
Check out Burlee Vang's blog:
Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?
Over recent years, Burlee has been an energetic figure promoting a new generation of Hmong American writers in Fresno. An award-winning writer, his poetry and short stories are gaining a lot of attention and for good reason. And he makes damn fun Hmong horror movies when he gets around to it. Keep it up, Burlee!
And not a new blog but more of an update: Harlow's Monkey has moved over to http://harlowmonkey.typepad.com/ so be sure to fix your links to match that, if you haven't already.
Adoptee Roll Call: Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.
The two were twins who were set adrift to die on the Tiber river, but were kept safe by the river god Tiberinus, who made the cradle catch in the roots of a fig tree growing in the Velabrum swamp.
According to most sources, Tiberinus then brought the infant twins up onto the Palatine Hill. There, the two were nursed by a she-wolf (lupa in Latin, a designation also used for female prostitutes, leading to an alternative theory that the "wolf" was actually human) underneath a fig-tree and were fed by a woodpecker.
Romulus and Remus were soon discovered by the shepherd Faustulus, who brought the children to his home and raised the boys as his own until they were old enough to go found their own nation...
And the rest is history that you can read over at the Wikipedia and around the web.
But still a fun thing to keep in mind of how far you can go.
Outsiders Within Release Party
OUTSIDERS WITHIN BOOK RELEASE PARTY
Hope to see you there if you can make it!
Saturday, November 18th, 2006, 6 p.m.
Barbara Barker Center for Dance 500 21st Ave.
South Minneapolis, MN 55455
Co-sponsored by The First Nations Orphans Association and The University of Minnesota: The Consortium for the Study of the Asias, The Institute for Global Studies, American Studies, Asian American Studies, and the Dance Program.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Ananya Dance Theatre
performing an excerpt from DUURBAAR
The First Nations Orphans Association
performing the Wiping of Tears Ceremony
FEATURING READINGS BY:
Jane Jeong Trenka
Julia Chinyere Oparah
Sun Yung Shin
Asha Tall (from South End Press)
Jae Ran Kim
Beth Kyong Lo
Kim Park Nelson
Bryan Thao Worra
Sandy White Hawk
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
But I'm now more frightened that some people will confuse victory for effective strategy.
As seen in certain races like MN Governor and Virginia, in particular, or even Bachmann vs. Wetterling, and elsewhere across the country, what bugs me is that the margins had to be so close at all.
Given everything that's been going on, even without the scandals and gaffes, it shouldn't have come down to the wire in many of these races, and should have been more Klobuchar (58%) or McCollum (70%).
Half the time, it was the opposition that's stumbling over itself trying to hand it to someone else, and still people had to debate about it?
There's a segment that would seriosuly rather go with someone who HAS historically screwed them over, because we don't change horses in midstream or some ridiculous thing like that?
It's like saying, "Sure, Mike Tyson punches people out a lot, but I bet it won't hurt if I step into the ring with him."
Still, that's democracy in action for you. I'm glad we've got it. Let's just make sure we keep working to keep it fine-tuned and truly reflective of the people.
And in the meantime, just to keep it light:
Over at Tripmaster Monkey they're pointing out Radar Magazine's hilarious report on a new monkey menace
This ranks pretty high on the ol' bizzarometer.
Oh, and if you aren't already doing so, stop by at http://www.apiablogs.net where some of the most interesting blogs by Asian Americans are collected. It's a daily stop for me. You never know what you're going to find there, but it's usually good.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Goose Steps And Gags
Two fun articles have got my attention this afternoon:
Over at The Toronto Star we've got a fascinating article on the Goose Step and what it means to tyrants, and why they seem to like what looks like a ridiculous march to the rest of us. But for some reason, this also brings to mind "The Producers" for me today.
Meanwhile, David Crossland over at The Spiegel has an excellent article reviewing a new book on Nazi-era humor: "Did you hear the one about Hitler..." which brings to mind for me the lines from Bertolt Brecht's poem "Motto":
In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.
Actually, many of the jokes presented, in a different time, probably wouldn't be seen as terribly funny, but back then they could get you killed, especially if they smacked of 'defeatism'.
What gets to me is the fact that we waver dangerously close to a point in contemporary America where laughter and more importantly, opposing viewpoints are silenced and discouraged.
Years ago, I came across a post that argued that the big mistake most of us make is that we treat Nazis and Nazism like they're cold, cruel, evil and competent people.
It was argued that instead we should be mocking them at every turn and opportunity, because what people who are turning to Nazism today are looking for is to be seen as cold, ruthlessly competent people. They think it's cool. And they want to be seen as part of something 'cool'.
Perhaps the appropriate response is if we just presented Nazis as idiotic bumblers with all the style sense of bell bottoms and hair shirts. Neo-nazi recruitment would plummet overnight.
While the US isn't instituting the goose-step, the way we're told to revere and fetishize the military and elite police forces of America should be considered carefully. Giving up freedom for style is never cool.
Leonard Cohen's song 'First We Take Manhattan' utters the lines:
I'm guided by a signal in the heavens
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
Make of this post what you will.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
November Spawned A Monster
With the end of October, we see a sad end to the regular updates of our Creature Features, but that was so much fun I think we'll do it again next year. We've far from exhausted the topic.
But this month, the theme for On The Other Side of the Eye is the fact that November is both National Novel Writing Month and National Adoption Month.
So throughout the month, expect posts touching on both and then some.
I'm going to give a nice clap to the folks at http://nanowrimo.org because last year they worked hard to fundraise to help build libraries in Laos. Yay!
This year the cause is children's libraries in Vietnam! They've previously also supported chilren's libraries in Cambodia. Good luck!
Mind you, for some reason their site is uber-slow today, but bear with it. It's a fun project.
Amusingly enough, I've already taken some heat for Outsiders Within that I'm not going to get into, but it sounds like the discussions are starting up already around the country, and just in time too, as Madonna tries to go all Angelina Jolie in Africa. Hussy see, hussy do. Oops. That's terribly politically incorrect. Oh well.
There's a lot of food for thought in Outsiders Within. Some written by younger voices, others who are more seasoned, and of course, some at a very radical end of the spectrum. Some are hard to get through, others are a breeze.
In any case, it's an important look at what adoptees themselves have to say about their experience, and one that's rarely heard.
Frankly, that supression always freaks me out.
Especially when it comes from both Asian and Non-Asian, adopted and non-adopted elements of my community. But that's a different cup of coffee to talk about.
Ok, time to close this entry off with a nod to a positive example of an adoptee: The Peach Boy.
The quick take on it is Momotarō is found in a giant peach floating down the river by an old, childless couple who were originally going to eat it. Almost nice and Freudian there. Had it gone badly, it might have looked like Saturn eating his kids... But anyway:
The boy explains he was sent by Heaven to be their son. The couple names him Momotarō, and they all get along well, because who's going to argue with divine providence?
Anyway, years pass, and Momotarō decides to leave to the island of Onigashima to destroy the marauding, monstrous oni that have taken up residence there. On the way, Momotarō meets and befriends a talking dog, monkey, and pheasant, who agree to help him in his quest.
Momotarō and his animal buddies penetrate the demons' fort and beat the demons into surrendering. Momotarō returns home with his new friends, and his family live comfortably ever after.
One moral of the Peach Boy story that usually gets left out is the theme that one doesn't sell one's children, one's future, for peace, happiness and convenience. As we run into a certain overseas quagmire, it seems we should ponder the old lessons more.
There are many great adaptations of Peach Boy running around. One that I find particularly cute is Stan Sakai's take that's written within the world of Usagi Yojimbo.
If you can find a copy these days, it's great.
Oh, and the title for this post comes from a controversial Morrissey tune.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Creature Feature Short Take: Krasue
The Krasue has a similarity with a ghost from Malaysia called the Penanggalan or the Puntianak. This type of ghost has been depicted before in films such as Hong Kong's 'Witch with the Flying Head' (1977) and Indonesia's 'Mystics In Bali' (1981)."
Interestingly, according to some accounts in China, there was a group known as the Falling-Head People or Luotou Min in the South, whose heads could fly. Once, a General Zhu Huan acquired a concubine whose head would fly away every night when she was asleep. That caused quite a scandal, so they promptly determined ways to dispatch her. And all she wanted to do was terrorize the living...
Other readers of OTOSOTE will remember a Hellboy issue that dealt with the Penanggalan:
So the next time you go running around, just remember:
Floating heads attached to their internal organs and nothing else are a poor choice for company. You can always do much better...
Oh and in the meantime, you can hop over to http://www.tripmastermonkey.com where they've got an article of mine up about other creatures of the night. Happy halloween!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Creature Feature Short Take: Vampires. Sort of.
It would seem that with his arrest, MN's chance at electing the first vampire for governor have been dashed for now. Pesky America and its inconvenient laws about statute of limitations... ;)
We once elected Jesse 'The Body' Ventura here, after all.
Who's to say Jonathon didn't really have a chance?
Oh sure, the impaling terrorists and wrong-doers near the front steps of the capitol might go against our usual principles of Minnesota-nice, but we also love theater here.
I'm not saying he'd have been better than Pawlenty or Hatch or Hutchinson, but I think elections are always more interesting when we see true democracy in action- when anyone, and I mean anyone, could have even odds at making it into high office.
Take Melody "Mimi Miyagi" Damayo, for example, who made a tilt at the Nevada Governor's office on the Republican ticket.
Single mother, Asian American entrepreneur with a background as an immigrant in entertainment and the media, it was a little bizarre, but hey, most of the candidates in Nevada could barely point at one another without the accusation of the pot calling the kettle black.
At least she made a run, and put her money where her mouth is, which is a lot further than a lot of people have gone. And interestingly, she went on to do it without making an ass of herself, unlike:
And all this is assuming the portly fellow's not a plate of spare ribs by now.
On a more gruesome note, there's the 1999 case of Cambodian 'vampire' Pheach Phen who serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of supporting good health education internationally.
Today I'm also giving a report on porphyria, which is interesting because in 1985, biochemist David Dolphin suggested it as an explanation for the origin of vampire and werewolf legends, based upon a number of similarities between the condition and folklore.
This is only a THEORY, but many people seem to be forgetting that and treating it as a truth, much like the idea that King George III may have suffered from it.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Creature Feature Short Take: Shuten Doji
Not to be confused with the crummy Star Hand Kid series a while back:
But rather the monstrous oni from Japan, particularly residing at the top of Mount Oe until the hero Raiko and 4 BFFs snuck into his house during a party and cut his head off.
I'll be honest, I first ran into the term Shuten Doji while playing Legend of the Five Rings back in the 90s and seeing Steve Morales' design:
And until I bothered to do the research I thought he was some sort of vampire.
But au contraire, it turns out that Shuten Doji's full name translates into Giant Drunken Boy. Or Big Drunkard Demon, or some similar combination involving "large", "blitzed" and "being an ass."
It seems old Shuten Doji is also a cannibal demon. It's bad enough of course that he's either a cannibal or a demon, but he's both!
And he liked to kidnap beautiful girls from the capitol to 'hang out' with him and his oni buddies at their Tower of Murder during their keggers featuring buffets of human sashimi and blood.
If anyone had it coming, it was Shuten Doji:
Japundit.Com has some great pictures of the Nebuta Festival of Aomori City, including this float of Raiko taking down Shuten Doji.
These floats have to be seen to be believed. In fact so much so, that I'm going to call attention to their other entry:
The Vampire Cat of Nabeshima! Bad kitty!
If you like fun and gruesome ghost stories and Japanese art, this entry at Japundit will keep you busy for an afternoon. Great stuff!
That's all for now!