Sunday, May 25, 2008

Haiku Movie Reviews!

Ok, time for a few new haiku movie reviews since it's been a while. For those of you just joining us, a haiku is a traditional 17 syllable Japanese poem. And for some of these films that may be 16 syllables more than they deserve.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Old man Indy here:
Such countless wasted chances.
So disappointing.

Iron Man

Things go boom, explode.
Power armor for big jerk?
Better than hoped!


Giant monster stomps?
Godzilla wants his film back.
Blair Witch says: "Me too."


Darth Hayden can't act.
In Ann Arbor, no one asks
Big questions like: "How?"

The Forbidden Kingdom

Jet Li and Jackie!
You hope they won't sell out here.
Groooooan. How surprising.

Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay

Good actors, bad film.
Better off with White Castle.
Pray for no sequel.

The Ruins

Supposed to scare you:
"Little Shop of Horrors
Mexican party."

I really need to see some better movies...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

On The Other Side Of The Eye at Archive.Org

As part of an ongoing effort to build an audience for Lao American poetry, and to help celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I've archived an earlier version of On The Other Side Of The Eye at the acclaimed Internet Archive (

Some key differences between this and the final print version is the lack of front matter and early reviews, as well as the excellent foreword by Barbara Jane Reyes, some minor differences in page numbering and some minor text changes.

I think most people who have a hard copy version will agree it's quite satisfying holding a fully bound and printed edition, but for those who can't afford a copy at the moment or want to see a preview before they buy it, this is a great option, too.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Laos and The Movies!

I've mentioned this a few times before I'm sure, but one of the movies coming out soon to watch for is Nerakhoon (The Betrayal) by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath.

Nerakhoon was shown to great acclaim this year at the Sundance Film Festival and was a 'Best of the Fest' selection at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

I had a chance to see it last year at the International Conference On Lao Studies in Arizona, and it's really quite moving and worth seeing.

Go see it, if you can.


And that's a great lead into other Hollywood movies that have involved Laos.

A big buzz has been building around Clint Eastwood's upcoming Gran Torino, in which he supposedly plays a bigot whose perspective is changed when he runs into a Hmong family, and news that we may soon see an adaptation of the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

Note: There's a fun counter-rumor going around that Gran Torino is actually the next Dirty Harry film. Ah, Hollywood, the games you play. :)

Now, it would be extra fun if it turns out to be both (which, if you've seen the previous Dirty Harry films is not beyond the realm of possibility.)


Robert Downey, Jr. is currently making a big name for himself as a great Iron Man.

Interestingly he was also a part of the dud Air America with Mel Gibson, in which he played an idealistic young pilot going to work with the CIA's secret airline during the war for Laos during the 1960s and 70s.

You can spot the trailer here:

Frankly, the real story was far more interesting. You can visit the real Air America veterans website at:


More recently, the more-acclaimed Rescue Dawn was released, although I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet.

Based on Herzog's earlier 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs To Fly, Christian Bale and Steve Zahn star in Rescue Dawn, recounting the true story of German-born Dieter Dengler, who dreamed of being a pilot and eventually made his way to the United States, where he joined the military during the Vietnam War era. He was shot down over Laos and captured. Eventually he organized an escape with a small band of captives.


For me, there are two other older movies that come immediately to mind having been set in Laos: Bat 21 and Missing In Action. Unfortunately, neither one of these two films really give you much of a sense of the real Laos.

There's an argument we should count Apocalypse Now, which many point out: While officially set in Cambodia, it actually references more elements relevant to the war in Laos and the activities of larger than life figures like Tony Poe. But I digress.

I guess the take-away from this so far is that it might be nice to see a film about Laos that doesn't automatically require an airplane crash or American soldiers in trouble. It's kind of been done to death, folks.


The first 'film' I ever saw about Laos is the 1983 made-for-tv movie "Love Is Forever."

It was a fun love story/action film about an Australian journalist played by Michael Landon in Laos who is declared Persona Non Grata by the government and kicked out.

He then fights against the odds to get back into Laos to escape with the love of his life, a woman named Keo Sirisomphone played by Moira Chen aka Laura Gemser.

As I look at it now, it really does have several of my favorite actors including Edward 'The Equalizer' Woodward and Jurgen 'Das Boot' Prochnow. By most accounts, the DVD and VHS versions of the film are terrible, which is a pity. But for many of us, it was great just seeing a film set in Laos back then.

And the climactic scene where they escape via the Mekong is still a classic to those who remember it.


In another note, thanks goes to fellow bloggers at Racialicious and Angry Asian Man for pointing out the recent development with Hmong/Thai actress Brenda Song.

You can see the link here:

Poor Brenda has to go to court to sue the jacka$$es who stole the Disney star's photo to advertise for adult escort entertainment services, renaming her Layla, a [sic] "Hawaiin beauty," apparently thinking no one would notice.

Brenda's real work is in fact for Disney fare like Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior and other kids shows.

I can see why she might be upset.

My feelings about the stereotypes and cliches and tired tropes present in Wendy Wu are well documented, but still, we hope it's only a matter of time before Brenda breaks out into even bigger roles.

But anyway, that's some fun stuff for the day!

Happy APA Heritage Month!

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, everyone!

For those of you who haven't been following it, this year's theme is the clearly committee-designed theme of: "Leadership, Diversity and Harmony—Gateway to Success."

I know, I know. It's like they went to Successories and picked three random photos and said, "Here's our theme!"

Here's some of the lovely posters that have been designed to help us celebrate this year with immense energy and elan:

*Must... hold ...back... art criticism. Will... strong. Body... weak...*


This is to "honor the many contributions citizens of Asian and Pacific Island ancestry have made to America. Through their entrepreneurship and strong values of love and family, they have strengthened the economy and enriched communities across the nation."

And that's good.

Obviously, I think this year's theme is as generic and inoffensive as it gets, and doesn't make much of a statement. Clearly, more of us need to weigh in at the Federal Asian Pacific American Council and demand livelier themes in the future.

Doing my part here, this is a head's up that for the rest of the month I'm giving a shout out to those of us who trace our heritage back to Laos.

Since we've got enough stuffy academic approaches out there already, I'll keep the entries fun! :)

Laos, also known as the Kingdom of A Million Elephants, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic or Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao. Also formerly known as the kingdom of Lane Xang.

In the US, over 400,000 people with ties to Laos currently make their home here. What have we been up to? Stay tuned!

New Reviews for OTOSOTE

Whistling Shade's Rhonda Niola posted a positive review this month.

We also got a great review from Carole McDonnell at the blog Dark Parables.

And a nice shoutout from the wonderful writer Roy C. Booth.

Also, for the time being, I'm in rotation as a featured spotlight member at the new social networking site, Laoplace.Com and you can see my profile at

A very nice thanks to everyone who's been so wonderful and supportive! Thanks to you, word is getting out about On The Other Side Of The Eye. And the followup IS coming soon! :)