Saturday, April 01, 2006

INSTANT YANG v. 16: LOVE, ASIAN STYLE; YANGSAPOPPIN; TATTOOS, FOOD, HELLO KITTY, AND COMEDY

Hi all,

And here we go again with another installment of Instant Yang, which seems to have hit a fever pitch recently; if the hits to your inbox have seemed rather more frequent than once every two weeks, chock it up to coincidence and a burst of time-sensitive column ideas.

This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, Asian Pop explores Asian depictions of romance:

TEENAGERS IN LOVE:
Late-starters in the field, Asians take romantic love to a new level

My editor tells me that as of this col we're now back on a biweekly schedule, so rest assured that your inbox will be Yang-free for a fortnight...

Meanwhile, my inbox has had a surplus of Yangs--responding a little late to the party for last week's column on names and namesakes (which is here, if you missed it: BY ANY OTHER NAME). Jeff Yang, the student at Iolani School in Hawaii, expressed interest in talking to me through one of his teachers. Unfortunately, my deadline and the five-hour time difference prevented us from ever making a Yang to Yang connection, but I hope he enjoys the rest of his senior year.

I also got an email from Jeff S. Yang (husband of Natalie and father of Lucas), who, as it turns out, I'd corresponded with many years ago, because he'd mistakenly been getting mail intended for me. He's a proud Jeff Yang ("I am very happy with my name. My name has been with me my whole life. And I will never change it"), who works in New York as CTO of a company called ValetNoir. Interestingly, not only do we share the same last name, but so do our wives--my wife Heather noticed that his wife Natalie's maiden name in Chinese is the same as hers, even though she anglicizes it as "Yan" while Heather's family went with "Ying." (The proper Mandarin pronunciation would be "Yin"--yeah, Yin & Yang times two.)

Meanwhile, Jeff Yang the Bay Area guidance counselor contacted me after the column ran to tell me that his wife's name also happens to be Natalie. Pretty freaky, right? If there are any other Jeff Yangs hiding out there in the woodwork with wives named Natalie or Yin or some combination thereof, reveal yourselves: It is time for us clones to rise and crush our oppressors.

Now for some quick updates outside of the JeffYangiverse:

--If you haven't seen it yet, give HanziSmatter.com a read--it's a jaw-droppingly hilarious blog about the misuse of Chinese characters in design, graphics, but especially in tattoos. Why people don't get a Chinese-literate friend to prep them before they permanently scrawl something inane or incomprehensible on their butt meat is truly a mystery to me. But hey, it's not like Asians aren't guilty, too, as Hanzi Smatter's gaijin counterpart Engrish.com amply points out.

--I was hoping to wait until she posted her podcast with Julia Kwan, whose sweetly nostalgic EVE AND THE FIRE HORSE won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, but rather than wait another two weeks, let me point you in the direction of Cyndi Greening's Cynematik blog (www.cyndigreening.com), which is partly about indie film, and partly about, you know, stuff, but which hosts an extensive collection of her video and audio podcasts from Sundance and other festivals. Check it out.

--Also worth checking out: a new book called NEW ASIAN CUISINE, developed by Wendy Chan and Grace Niwa--I had the pleasure of working with Wendy for nearly three years, and have known Grace for, well, let's just say a long time; as Savory Productions, they've gathered together an eyecatching collection of Asian celebrity chefs offering over 100 of their favorite nouveau Asian food and bev recipes. The book's hot off the presses now--visit newasiancuisine.com for more info. (Meanwhile, on the topic of food, I'd also like to escort you to your table at The Girl Who Ate Everything, a knockout foodblog penned by my, uh, second cousin? First cousin once removed? Anyway, her name's Robyn, and I've been enjoying her ongoing quest for "superior deliciousness.")

--Gil Cheah in Singapore sent me some incredible pics of Eva Air's "Hello Kitty" themed Taipei-to-Beijing flight, which I've posted to a special page here, just out of sheer awe; I feel I have no choice but to fly on this pLinklane sometime in the very near future. My assumption is that EVA Air explains what they were thinking on this page, though you kinda have to be able to read Chinese or Japanese to tell.

--Lastly, a pitch for Flushing Town Hall's MAIN STREET: Next Generation Asian American Arts festival, which focuses this year on humor. Check out Asian American performance trio SLANT, a special cabaret-style performance by Jami Gong's TAKE OUT COMEDY gang, and a mini-film-showcase and panel discussion moderated by yours truly:

The Color of Funny: Screen Comedy, Asian American Style
Sunday, Feb. 26th beginning at 2 PM

Screenings: SAVING FACE (Alice Wu); AMERICAN DESI (Piyush Dinker
Pandya); THE MOTEL (Mike Kang)

Panel (8 p.m.–9:30 p.m.)

Author Jeff Yang (Eastern Standard Time; Once Upon a Time in China)
moderates a panel discussion on humor, culture, and the generation
gap, as seen in Asian American cinema, with AMERICAN DESI's Piyush Dinker Pandya (impresario behind THE GURUS OF COMEDY standup tour), and stars Jade Wong of SAVING FACE and Hoon Lee of THE MOTEL (cofounder of the comedy troupe Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company and the hit off-off-Broadway show SIDES: THE FEAR IS REAL).

Tickets: $15/$12 members/$10 students/$8 student members

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