Saturday, April 01, 2006

INSTANT YANG v.10: George Takei comes out and speaks out; twisted sex and robot violence; SAVING FACE on DVD; and a whiff of politics

A brief reintroduction to those of you getting this for the first time: The email you're reading is an installment of a biweekly mailblog intended to share nuggets of important, helpful, or just plain unusual news that's somehow relevant to Asians or those interested in Asian ideas, culture, technology, and entertainment. If you're reading this, you either opted in through my column, "Asian Pop"; are someone whom I want to stay in touch with; or perhaps simply wandered too close--I recently synched my email inbox with this application, so some of you are acquaintances and friends of friends, as well as Nigerian 419 spammers and V1aGr4 pitchmen. Regardless of how you ended up here, welcome aboard--and remember, if you find this annoying, you can unsubscribe instantly by clicking the link at the bottom of this message.

But if you stick around, every two weeks, you'll get a freshly baked basket of newslets chock full of Asiany goodness. And if you have something to share with the other 1600+ people on this list, well, if you're a member of this list, your info goes to the head of the class. (Events, job listings, and media alerts with some kind of Asian content only, please--I'm not gonna rent out your apartment or sell your old George Foreman grill.)

On to the content. This week's Asian Pop column is something special. Well, I'd like to think all of them are special, but this one's a bit special-er: George Takei, whom many of you probably know as Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, took time out from his busy schedule to talk to me at length about the reasons behind his decision to publicly embrace his identity as a gay man:

As Lt. Hikaru Sulu on the beloved original Star Trek series, George Takei ventured beyond the farthest reaches of our galaxy, landed on alien planets and explored improbable parallel dimensions. Today, he has fans in the millions and is arguably Asian America's most famous living icon. Yet, as those closest to him know, one aspect of his life has long been hidden behind a cloaking device: his sexual orientation. Which makes it all the more bold that recently, at the age of 68, he made the decision to go where few Asian American celebrities have gone before, informing the world of his 18-year relationship with manager and life partner Brad Altman.

George is more than just one of Asian America's most visible celebrities; he's also a genuine leader in our community, a sincere, funny, and remarkably humble guy, and yeah, he acts a little too; currently, he's getting raves for his turn as the conflicted psychiatrist Martin Dysart in East West Players' adaptation of Peter Shaffer's EQUUS. It's playing now through December 4, so if you're in L.A., go see it, and if you aren't, consider dipping into those frequent flier miles.

San Francisco is experiencing its share of on-stage psychosexual fireworks as well this Friday and Saturday, as the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts presents the last weekend of its One4All Asian American Theatre Festival--featuring Christopher Chen's MISHIMA SPEAKS TO BEAUTY, about the novelist/samurai/would-be rebel's last hours, and Viet Nguyen's IN THE DARK, a thriller about two lesbians, madness, and murder....check it out here, or call 415.554.0402 for reservations.

Meanwhile, those looking for lesbians in a somewhat less lethal mode would do well to check out Alice Wu's delicious screwball-romantic comedy SAVING FACE, now out from Sony Classics on DVD--complete with embarrassing featurettes that Alice doesn't want you to see! Go. Buy. Enjoy.

Screws are also set to come loose in SF's Fort Mason Festival Pavilion this weekend, when the rude mechanicals of the ComBots Robot Fighting League hit the Bay Area...hopefully not literally. The ROBOT FIGHTING LEAGUE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP features over 200 machines getting neolithic on one another for a $10,000 top prize. If you dig hot bot on bot action, these might be the droids you're looking for. And under six get in free!

November 12-13, 2005, 12am - 10pm
Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, San Francisco, CA
Cost: $20/adult, $15/kids 17-7, six and under free

And now, a turn to the political. The failed policies and endemic corruption of the GOP was soundly slapped down this year, with the Dems winning the statehouses in New Jersey and Virginia, terminating Arnold's special election slate of propositions in Cali, and winning countless smaller races across the country. One that I'd like to draw your attention to in particular is the successful bid by Democratic challenger JUN CHOI--excuse me, Mayor Jun Choi!--to win the top executive position of Edison, New Jersey. Keep an eye on this guy: Jun's a good man, and a rising star in both his party and his community.

Also fitting that description: SUBODH CHANDRA, who's running for Attorney General of the state of Ohio in 2006. The former federal prosecutor is promising to take a new broom to the creepy, festering pit of cronyism and scandal that is the Buckeye State, where worker's comp funds are invested in (now missing) coin collections, with Republican blessings. Check him out at, and consider giving him your support.

Lastly, if you're honest, hard-working, brilliant, committed to civic service, you, too may have a place in government. CHUNG SETO, former exec director of the New York State Democratic Committee, is looking for Asian Americans interested in public-sector positions in city, state, or national government in order to build a standing pool of candidates for potential hires and appointments. Feeling up to the challenge? Email your resume with a cover that details your interests to; you can also email her at that address with any questions.

And that's it for this installment. I'd like to sign off with a solemn moment for those who've fought our country's battles on this Veteran's Day weekend. Soldiers deserve our deepest respect. Seems to me the best way we can show our respect is to not risk their lives in misguided conflicts, founded on lies. Not that I'm naming names or anything. I'm just sayin'.

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