Poetry, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and culture from a Lao American perspective.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
The Scream Returns
Edvard Munch's The Scream
has been recovered after it was stolen in 2004 and will soon be back on display in a museum for the masses to gawk at and parody.
Now the only question that remains is who gets the hefty M&M Reward! Lucky devils.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Putting it into perspective
In history, writers are remembered for typically quality or output, and very rarely, both.
We have writers out there who inflict hundreds of really bad books on the public, and by contrast, people who write only 1 book, but it's really, really good. So I'm not saying that how much you put out is any indication of how good you are, by any stretch of the imagination.
Every now and then, though, I like to remind myself how much you CAN get written in your lifetime when I think of the following authors:
Mystery writer Charles Harold St. John Hamilton (aka Frank Richards,
1876-1961) made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for producing more than 72 million words. (A typical single sheet of 8 x 11 paper is considered to have ca. 250 words, as a reminder for perspective.)
In Romance, we have Barbara Cartland (1901-2000) who penned over 700 novels in her storied lifetime. That's like, what, nearly 7 novels a year?
Among Westerns, Louis L'Amour (1908-1988) has at least 122 novels attributed to him.
Canadian horror writer Dan Ross (1912-1995) is known to have written at least 358 novels. This is an estimate, because he also wrote under a lot of pseudonyms, so the figure could be even higher. He also published more than 600 short stories. But it may interest you to know he didn't write his first novel until he was 49. So let's hear it for late bloomers.
British children's book author Enid Blyton (1897-1968) has more than 800 children's books and 10,000 short stories to her name. Her most famous creation is a series called Noddy, and she's apparently quite popular in the U.K., India, and Australia among other places.
Of course, we have to recognize Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), the Russian-born Jewish science fiction writer who is officially known to have written over 500 books and 1,600 essays, including several non-fiction works. Many of them thick-ones!
And finally, Agatha Christie (1890-1976) wrote at least 79 crime novels, with sales of more than 1 billion (I'm assuming that's total, and not just per novel..)
Kao Lee Thao featured at MNArtists.Org
MNArtists.Org has been around for quite some time as a resource for Minnesota artists, but it has long been under-used, having a hard time convincing many in MN to make it a regular 'must visit site.'
This applied especially for Hmong artists who typically found sites like Hmongartists.net a forum where they could exhibit their work and get more relevant feedback on their technique and process.
It's great to see Kao Lee Thao getting featured up here. You can also check out her primary website at www.folklorestudio.com which is well worth the visit to see her unique approach to both the conventional and the fantastic.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I've learned that my work has been accepted in:
* Poetry Midwest (sometime next week it's expected)
* the premiere issue of Bakka and
* the Other Voices International Project anthology.
There are some other exciting projects that are almost complete as well, but I don't want to speak too ahead of turn on them until it's confirmed.
In the meantime, while we're waiting, the current issue of Defenestration, the magazine of literary humor, features my light poem 'Cobra'.
And if you catch the latest FHF Calendar, it too features a poem of mine, as well as the art of Malichansouk Kouanchao and several other great writers and artists from Minnesota.
Thanks, ladies and gentlemen!
Monday, August 28, 2006
"Not guilty" verdict for shooting brother-in-law.
White Bear man found not guilty
in shooting death of brother-in-law
The defense attorney calls a surprising verdict
for Tou Fue Moua "wonderful."
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Looking for the following Lao writers
If anyone happens to know the status or whereabouts of the following writers, I'd really like to hear about them:
-Douangdeuane Viravongs also known as Dok Ked
-Dr Thongkham Onemanisone
-Maha Boun Nhok
-Othong Khaminsou (Houngaloune Denvilay)
Friday, August 25, 2006
Keep Your Clothes On At My Funeral.
I guess if you want people to show up to your funeral, you've got to do it the old fashioned way and either be a nice person or rich without mentioning who you've left in your will.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Supporting Toua Xiong's Family
You can of course still donate to the memorial fund set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses:
Toua Xiong Memorial Fund
C/O US Bank
1030 West Broadway
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411
Death For White Collar Crimes
Corruption, graft and embezzlement are all crimes that can lead to the death sentence in Vietnam. Since 2003, Vietnamese courts have sentenced 11 high-ranking officials and business people to death for economic crimes. Her official charge is "losing state resources through economic mismanagement."
Amnesty International points out that in March of this year,Phung Long That, head of the Customs Department's anti-smuggling office, was found guilty of accepting bribes and smuggling, and executed.
So it's pretty safe to say, these guys aren't fooling around.
Oh, why not. Happy Birthday Mr. Hoy!
Lots of fun little bits in the MSNBC article, in particular.
Sherry Quan Lee Online
As a side-note, she's also one of the very first participants in the notorious Giant Lizard Theater program I organize, and was great and funky during that time.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Black Eyed Peas: Yellow on Yellow Hating?
On a lighter note, you should also check out her post on a BBC report that a Philippines judge who consulted imaginary mystic dwarves has failed to convince the Supreme Court to allow him to keep his job.
Quelle Bummer! Is there no justice?
Star Tribune Article on Hmong Delinquents
Unfortunately, there's also a high probability of rape and encounters with gang culture while they're runaways.
It's not a perfect article- it's particularly light on man-on-the-street reactions from non-pundits who are Hmong, for example, but I suppose sometimes you just have to work with what you can get.
Some parts remind me of old Ed Buell's remarks decades ago in Laos, though. He said that anyone who was speaking English and telling you about the problem didn't understand what the real problem was.
For me, one of the standout elements was:
"In the farm garden, gardeners grow small fruits, herbs and vegetables for Farm in the City's community-supported agriculture program. People in the community buy shares in the organic garden and receive a box of vegetables and flowers weekly. Among the gardeners is a group of deaf Hmong men. Kor Thor, who has a slight hearing impairment, helps the men communicate with others. The men also have plots in the community garden.
"You can tell their gardens," says Benda. "They build trellises of scrap wood and sticks for their cucumbers and beans. They tend to have a gully in the middle. It creates a raised bed, which helps with drainage and makes it easy to get at their plants.""
As a writer, it's the nice little details like that that I enjoy reading, rather than just the bland non-descriptions people tend to give about these sorts of things. Who knows if Hmong Americans will be gardening like this a generation or two from now?
MN- August 24th Photo Exhibition
Eberhardt traveled to villages, towns, and homes, obtaining a variety of photographs documenting Foundation projects and individual lives.
The opening reception is August 24, 20065:00 to 7:30 pm, 710 Second Street South, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55401
Eberhardt traveled to Laos and Cambodia last year with Bruce Shoemaker, a consultant for the McKnight who has worked in Laos for close to 20 years. Also, two Lao women from the Salavan area will be attending the show. Both women work for an organization in Laos that received a McKnight grant to work with villagers on land rights.
MN- Yellow Rage coming to the Loft Literary Center.
Equilibrium: Spoken Word at the Loft presents
With special guests PALABRISTAS
Saturday, September 23rd, 8 pm
At the Loft, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis
$5/$3 for Loft members
Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh are founding members of the spoken word group Yellow Rage, a dynamic duo of Philly-based Asian American female spoken word poets. Yellow Rage gained national attention when they performed on the first season of the critically-acclaimed HBO television series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry; the episode can currently be seen in reruns on HBO as well as on the newly released Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, Season One DVD.
This is their first feature show in Minneapolis and includes a special opening performance by local Latino/a poetry supergroup Palabristas! Group discounts available. www.loft.org
Monday, August 21, 2006
Transcultural adoptees and the NYT
So, once again, until Outsiders Within comes out, I wind up redirecting you to the classic spoof essay by The Onion instead, for your amusement.
Best Moments As A Writer
I think it's actually 'most of them,' but there are also some points where you say "Wow, that's really pretty cool," even above and beyond the norm.
August has been a really, really good month in that regard. Having been covered in the Pioneer Press for the first time as a writer and the time I spent as a special guest at Diversicon are absolutely unforgettable, key moments.
But it's also the 'smaller moments' in a writer's career that make it all worthwhile.
As a Laotian American poet, I just received an e-mail the other day from a complete stranger asking if there was a poem of mine that would make a great tattoo for them.
I sent along some suggestions, but haven't heard back yet if they went ahead and did it.
Still, I'm deeply flattered that someone would even think of doing so in the first place. Thanks! You made my day.
And if anyone DOES actually go through with getting a tattoo of one of my poems on their body, hey, send a picture. I'd really love to see it.
But if you get it translated into Lao, please, double check the spelling. I'd hate to see it end up on Hanzismatter.Com
Update: Ok, some people just called to tell me that I was used as a non-player character in one of their recent role-playing games as an expert on Southeast Asian folklore and cryptozoology, and I didn't get killed or eaten by the aforementioned subjects of my study, so that's pretty neat too. Thanks.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Interesting things I've learned this week.
* Don't sit with your feet on the dashboard, no matter how cool you think it makes you look. The odds are you're popping your dogs on an airbag, and in the event of an accident, when that airbag shoots out at 200mph to counter the sudden impact, it will also take your foolish legs off at the same time. Feet off!
* For that matter, don't keep drinking glasses or sharp objects in your car passenger area. Upon impact, all of those things go flying up in the air and people tend to get killed by these things flying around inside at dozens of miles per hour, as much as by the impact itself. Ouch!
Moschata or Musk Strawberry is the holy grail of strawberry breeders in the know right now. Without sounding too zen buddhist on this one, if you see one, for heaven's sake, eat it, and savor it.
Interestingly, most domestic American strawberries are grown by Hmong farmers in California according to some sources. And so are Amish quilts. But that's a long story and a different post.
* After reading this Smithsonian article, I have to say, I hope I never 'go Haber'.
Apparently, Fritz Haber revolutionized modern agriculture by inventing synthetic nitrogen. He even won a Nobel for that.
In the book Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch and the Transformation of World Food Production, it's pointed out that "there is no way to grow crops and human bodies without nitrogen."
Until Haber came along, however, we were in a bit of rut: Unless a way was found to augment the naturally occurring nitrogen cycle, the growth of the human population would soon grind to a very painful halt during the early 1900s.
I'll spare you the Poindexter details, because you can get them in the article, but the take-away was that Haber found an interesting cure for the solution and many of the people alive today owe it to Haber.
The author of Enriching the Earth argues that 2 out of 5 humans wouldn't be here without the Haber-Bosch process.
There IS a downshot however, as Haber may have unwittingly doomed the earth with his invention as well. That's still a lot of conjecture, mind you, but the article makes a pretty good argument for it.
But the main reason Haber's not a household name is that during the wars in Germany, he was also responsible for research into poisonous gasses, particularly ammonia and chlorine, at which he was very, very good.
Haber was even responsible for Zyklon B, the primary gas used in the Nazi concentration camps to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.
* A more positive closing note, however is that researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz, investigating side-blotched lizards discovered that altruism can be passed on.
In yet another fun Smithsonian article (what can I say, it was a doctor's office...) it seem these creatures pass on altruism by recognizing the selfless trait in others and coming to help only those that share it.
"Some blue-throated members of the species defend other, unrelated blues against orange- or yellow-throated rivals. But they somehow know not to team up with selfish blue-throated males. As a result, self-sacrifice helps those that can pass along altruistic genes."
Well, if a lizard can do that, surely humans can do no less! And perhaps even better!
Monday, August 14, 2006
Diversicon Sunday Report
Sunday was another fun day at Diversicon. It was a late night for most of us on Saturday, particularly for those who stayed for the late-night presentation and discussion of the original Ju-On, not to be confused with the awful version starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Sorry, Buffy and Sam Raimi. The American version just doesn't cut it with me.)
We opened up on Sunday with a presentation and discussion of The Eye, a great film at many levels. The American remake is slated to feature Jessica Alba. Once again, we roll our eyes at this news, even as Pulse opens up to 5th place behind a NASCAR spoof. Bao Phi and I led a brief discussion of The Eye and how it presented a far different take on 'seeing dead people' than M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.
I almost feel silly having to constantly reiterate: 'The original is much better.' But seriously, in the case of the previously mentioned films, they are.
The Eye led directly into a well-attended session on mysterious locations in Laos: The Plain of Jars, the Spirit City of Xieng Khuan, and the Black Stupa (That Dam) in the capitol of Vientiane.
We had just enough time that we were also able to do an extra special run-through of the creatures of myth and legend again!
Everyone asked some great and interesting questions regarding the myths and legends of Laos and Southeast Asia, and it's clear that there are still plenty of subjects to discuss to advance everyone's knowledge.
Throughout the convention, I thought of the old Lao proverb: "You know, you teach. You do not know, you learn."
Kelly Link gave a great reading from one of her short stories, and Andrea Hairston also gave a powerful reading from her novel Mindscape. She'll be the main guest of honor at next year's Diversicon.
As always, Diversicon is a relaxed convention compared to most- authors, guests and speakers mingle very freely with the attendees, and speak frankly about the subjects that interest and concern them.
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, as well as Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine,Mental Floss, and Whistling Shade generously provided some wonderful give-aways of back issues that everyone couldn't get enough of. Dark Wisdom and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu also sent some great bookmarks for everyone. Nnedi is promoting her book Zahrah the Windseeker.
Diversicon doesn't focus on flashiness by any stretch of the imagination, but rather on depth and honesty, and I respect that. And they make tremendous efforts to create an environment where fans and writers from all of the diverse cultural perspectives can come together.
I should also put in a big plug for Shannon Gibney, Katie Ferreira, Shoua Lee, Bao Phi, Yuk Ki Lau and Cynthia Mai Lee and their family for extra special help and support both before and during my workshops and presentations. :)
I also give a big thanks to Rick Gellman, the Chair of this year's Diversicon (and next year's as well) for his supportive vision and input and Eric Heideman for his constant feedback and support even up to the last minute.
And lastly, a big thanks to everyone who bought some Hmong handicrafts from Mrs. Xiong at my table throughout the weekend. She works hard to make them, and it's nice to see people appreciating authentic handcrafts in an age when it's all too easy to buy something that's machine-made.
Already I'm looking forward to next year's Diversicon!
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Diversicon Saturday Report
Well, Saturday at Diversicon is going well as everyone has been giving great presentations all day long. Thanks to HmoobTeen magazine, we had a fantastic lunch of egg rolls from their current fundraiser. They went really fast, and people are asking where they can get the recipe, and where they can buy more.
In particular, I had a good interview at noon and gave another reading of my poetic work later that afternoon spanning 15 years from my appearances in G-Fan, Astropoetica, Hyphen Magazine, the Paj Ntaub Voice and more.
A special thanks to everyone who has given me so much positive feedback regarding my recent article in the Pioneer Press. :)
This afternoon, I did an autograph session, and am currently typing this in the middle of the annual Diversicon Auction, with many of the proceeds going to the Gordon Dickson Fund to support writers who wish to attend the acclaimed Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop. Surprisingly, I've emerged owning a small robot army for future projects.
Later after the auction we will do a year in review of the science fiction, horror and fantasy films from August 2005 to August 2006, as well as a session discussing the Japanese horror film, Ju-On.
In all this has been a great and enjoyable convention, seeing many familiar faces as well as meeting new ones, and it's been an honor being a part of Diversicon and the way they support both readers and writers from diverse backgrounds.
Oh, and Tripmaster Monkey has some recent reviews of mine up over at www.tripmastermonkey.com about The Descent and Lady In The Water.
Friday, August 11, 2006
DreamHaven Reading Report
Thanks, everyone for the love and support at the DreamHaven reading. We had over 40 people show up, including members of Northography, Diversicon participants, and Whistling Shade and columnists from the MN Womens Press. It had a lot of energy, and Kelly Link read a very funny and amusing tale of a poet, the undead and misplaced poetry. It was very fun.
I'm now over at Diversicon. I just finished a presentation on Southeast Asian creatures of myth and legend: The naga, yaksha, garuda, kinaree, nguoi rung, and various phi, as well as the Laotian cryptids were featured. Everyone responded very well with great questions and comments.
You can also catch a great article about me in the Friday edition of the Pioneer Press.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
DreamHaven Reading Tonight
So, tonight's the big night, right before Diversicon kicks off. It's been nearly a year in coming, but I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together. Everyone's been working very hard, juggling between convention planning, putting out the latest issue of Tales of the Unanticipated, and somehow fitting in those 9 to 5 jobs too!
While I'm not sure what great stuff Kelly will be reading tonight, this evening I'll be sharing the following poems in the spirit of Diveriscon 14 "No Boundaries":
- 'What Kills A Man'
- 'Whorl'(from Hyphen Magazine. The first public reading!)
- 'Hey, Einstein' (from Defenestration)
- 'Warhammer' (from Paj Ntaub Voice)
- 'The End of Me'
- 'Homonculus' (from Tales of the Unanticipated)
- 'The Ghost Nang Nak'
- 'Songkran Niyomsane's Forensic Museum'
- and 'Destroy All Monsters' (from G-Fan #75!)
Andrea Hairston is also flying in this afternoon and may be coming in, so that's exciting. She'll be reading and participating in a number of panels while promoting her first novel Mindscape by Aqueduct Press, a press committed to feminist science fiction. Welcome to MN, Andrea, and all of our other out-of-town guests!
As a reminder: DreamHaven Books is at 912 W Lake Street, Minneapolis MN 55408. Right across from Phoenix Games and near the Bryant-Lake Bowl. We're going to get started at 6:30 PM.
Special thanks to SASE:The Write Place, DreamHaven Books, SF Minnesota, Diversicon and the scores of other great volunteers, friends and family who are making this all possible! :)
[MN] Vigil for Toua Xiong
Toua was a 20 year old Hmong resident. He was saving money to go to college and buy a car, so he was using his sister's car to deliver the pizza. He was thinking about going to St. Thomas or Concordia and wanted to be in finance-management.
A memorial fund has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.
Toua Xiong Memorial Fund
C/O US Bank
1030 West Broadway
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411
My deepest sympathies go to his family.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
In case you were wondering
According to the AP:
NEW YORK - A man who sued the city for entering his apartment without a search warrant after he was mauled by his 450-pound pet Siberian tiger demonstrated a lot of nerve in taking the city to court, a judge said as he threw the lawsuit out.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was filed by Antoine Yates after he was arrested Oct. 4, 2003, at a Philadelphia hospital where he had gone for treatment of a deep bite to his right leg suffered three days earlier.
Police removed the 10-foot-long tiger, Ming, and an alligator, Al, from Yates' East Harlem apartment. Yates served 3 1/2 months in jail after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment.
The Outsiders Within
Yes, I've got a poem in it. :) It's around the middle.
Hyphen Magazine #9 "At Play"
If you haven't picked up their latest issue, Hyphen #9 features my poems "Whorl" and "Imperious".
Shameless self-promotion aside, standout articles to me in this issue included 'Shinoda's Song' by Todd Inoue, an intriguing interview with Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, as well as 'Yoshino Battles the Pink Elephants' by Nicole Makris, that explains what "covering" or downplaying our natural characteristics has to do with our civil rights.
It's almost a pity that YBPE is buried deep in the back of this issue.
Maria Park has some nice pieces of her visual artwork in 'discrete velocity'. They must be very interesting to see in person.
There's also Karen Kim's great little article on the differences between the various karaoke machines out there. But no love for Ed Bok Lee's book 'Real Karaoke People'? Aw.
Kim does also have an important article on how casinos are targeting Asian Americans. Having seen the results of chronic gambling among Southeast Asian refugees in the Midwest, I'm glad others are calling attention to it, although this article primarily focuses on the Vegas / CA scene.
In a weird case of mixed messages, thanks to Lisa Katayama, we also get to learn how to play Liar's Dice (most recently featured in Pirates of the Carribean 2, but hopefully not a new reality TV show this fall.)
Alas, "Let's Play," the closing feature comic strip hits way too close for home. ;)
In all, it's a good issue to pick up with some great content. The only weird thing I'd note is that many of the ads are surprising well-designed and integrated into the magazine at an almost organic level- they feel like they really belong there, for the most part.
You can check them out at www.hyphenmagazine.com
[MN] Hmong boy, 12, drowns at beach
The man-made pond is considered one of the largest chlorinated bodies of water in the state, with an estimated 80,000 visitors per season. It has a sand bottom, holds a million gallons of water and is surrounded by 2 acres of beach.
The accident, which happened near its closing time. Three lifeguards were monitoring the pool area while three others were cleaning the beach and a seventh was doing paperwork.
"We don't feel good, but we feel comfortable how it was handled," Parks Director Jim Luger said in the Pioneer Press article. "We do what we normally do and it has worked more often than not."
The accident is the second time in six years that someone has died at the pond. In 2001, a girl with a heart defect died there, Luger said.
Update: Washiseng Yang, 11, has died as well.
Park Dedicated To Slain Hunters
Monday's dedication, according to the Pioneer Press, "was attended by about 200 people, featured a mixture of celebration that "something positive came out of the tragedy" and sadness of being reminded about it, Rassbach said.
"It has been a big healing process for a lot of people," he said. "You could tell there was a lot of emotion …"
[MN] Suspect Arrested In Slaying of Hmong Pizza Deliveryman
An arrest was made Tuesday in the slaying of Pizza Hut deliveryman Toua Xiong in North Minneapolis. Police said they arrested Jermaine Mack-Lynch, 20, on suspicion of murder, though they still are seeking other suspects in the case.
Although no cash was taken, robbery remains the suspected motive in the death of Toua Xiong, 20, who was delivering pizza to earn money for college. He was killed around 10 p.m. Sunday after Xiong delivered two large pizzas and some side orders to a duplex in Minneapolis.
A more detailed story of the shooting is also posted by the Pioneer Press at Pizza man killed after last run