Monday, September 18, 2006

INSTANT YANG v.26: ALOHA HAWAII, AND MAHALO, AAJA; VEGANOMICS; CALLING ALL RICE DADS AND MOMS; INDIE STUNTPEOPLE; MO' HENRY CHO; PUFFY AMIYUMI; CONNIE CHAN PO CHU

Aloha, yo. For those of you who had the chance to take four-day vacays, welcome back. I myself am still wringing out my brain from a fab, week-long trip to the Asian American mothership, Hawaii, which hostCed this year's Asian American Journalists Association National Convention.

There's nothing quite like the AAJACon--it's probably your best chance to see your favorite news personalities and ink-stained wretches out of corporate drag, having fun, and generally behaving like goofballs. And of course, putting a whole bunch of print journalists and broadcast journalists in the same place at the same time is an interesting way of observing the effects of culture shock firsthand, S.E. Hinton style ("It doesn't *matter*! Greasers will still be greasers and socs will still be socs!").

Though parenting and job constraints prevented me from hitting the past two conventions, this one was a must--not only because of its locale (Hawaii doesn't suck) but also because on a whim, I'd submitted my SFGate column for the AAJA National Journalism Awards, and accidentally won in the category of Best Online Article (Unlimited Subject Matter), for my August 25, 2005 column "Robot Nation: Why Japan, and not America, is likely to be the world's first cyborg society." Which basically means, "Hey! I beat the other guy that entered!", but it's still an honor to be recognized by your peers, etc., etc.

Anyway, four days of madcap Networking and Professional Development in Honolulu, it was time to ditch Oahu and head for the Garden Island, Kauai. It was there that I stumbled onto the subject of this week's SFGate column:

ASIAN POP: Viva Las Vegans
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate
Friday, July 6, 2006

On holiday in Hawaii, confirmed carnivore Jeff Yang visits Kauai's world-famous Blossoming Lotus vegan restaurant and meditates on diet, culture and the joys of vegan cuisine. Who knew there were joys?

Eating really delicious vegan food was something of a revelation to me. I know there are other popular veggie places--heck, I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where you can't throw a soy cracker without hitting an organic smoothie bar, macrobiotic grocery, or Yoga/Pilates salon.

But my experiences with vegan cookery in the past have generally been fair at best; I can't get my taste buds to suspend disbelief in the unusual consistency and dubious flavor of fake steak, shamburgers and faux fowl, and I'm just too committed to nasty junky ways of preparing food to get behind the whole raw cuisine thing. (In fact, I’ve spent much of my life on a secret quest for the evil-food Holy Grail: an entrée that’s both French-fried and hickory-smoked. With gravy. Something like chicken-fried ribs might fit the bill--ah, if only a forward-thinking Southern chef would take up the challenge...)

Blossoming Lotus? I'd eat there again in a second. Not to "convert," not even for health or ethical or moral reasons--just because it's a welcome new culinary experience. And for what it's worth, no more than four percent of Americans are vegetarian, and as few as 0.2 percent are vegan; if the 200-odd million of us who are omnivores could be convinced to eat vegan just one day out of the week, that would be functionally equivalent to getting 14 percent of the population--28 million--to go vegan full-time, an increase of some 7000 percent.

Americans eat an average of 68 pounds of meat per capita each year. If my math is correct (and hey, it's been a long time since the SATs), this translates to a savings of 1.9 billion pounds of beef a year, or--given the average "yield" of 500 pounds of beef per cow--about 3.8 million cows. That's a hell of a lot of cows. And that's just cows. Americans eat 87 pounds of chicken per capita, 51 pounds of pork...the list goes on and on.

Something to think about.

Anyway, it's time to move on from meat to rice...Rice Daddies, that is, which, as you know, is the daddyblog I contribute to, along with a bunch of shockingly funny, talented, and wise dads. Head Daddy Herder Jason "Daddy in a Strange Land" Sperber has kicked a little bloggerbutt and gotten the posting flow steady and strong; if you haven't been reading, it's time to dig back in. My most recent contribution is a bit on the recent discovery by Eminent Scientists that fatherhood chemically changes your brain:

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON FATHERHOOD.
Published Friday, June 30, 2006 by InstantYang.

So apparently, a team of behavioral scientists at Randolph-Macon College have done some research involving multiple sets of male deer mice that seems to indicate that exposure to children creates fundamental chemical changes to your brain. For one thing, this seems to provide the first scientific support of the age-old t-shirt slogan "INSANITY IS HEREDITARY--YOU GET IT FROM YOUR KIDS." (Is there anything t-shirts can't teach us?)

Jason's also let loose a viral quizzo, the "APA Parenting Meme," which the Rice Dads and their mommy counterparts have been responding to in turn--I'll be taking an at bat soon enough. But if any of you want to share as well, here's the meme in full. Kick it to me with your name, email, and nom de blog (or post it to your own blog and send me a link) and I'll gladly crosspost it to Rice Daddies:

THE APA PARENTING MEME
Published by daddy in a strange land.

Mombloggers and dadbloggers who happen to be Asian Pacific American (APA) have been sharing their unique experiences at the intersection of race, culture, family and parenting with the blogosphere for a while now. We [we being Eliaday of the Kimchi Mamas and daddy in a strange land of the Rice Daddies] thought an APA Parenting Meme would be a fun way to open up dialogue and get ideas flowing (for those of us afflicted with writer's block or blog fatigue). We're not experts, and in no way are we trying to be definitive or essentialist—-we just hope that these questions will get us started talking about experiences we have in common as APA parents, things we don't talk about and share enough. We're posting our answers to this meme on both our solo and group blogs and tagging 3 of our blogging brothas and sistas to represent and then tag some more. The questions are short, but, like everything, are open to interpretation—-as is this meme, so hapas, transracial adoptees, non-Asians who married in, immigrants to 6th-generation, parents of teens or folks still planning their first, you're all game.

1. I am:

2. My kids are:

3. I first realized I was APA when:

4. People think my name is:

5. The family tradition I most want to pass on is:

6. The family tradition I least want to pass on is:

7. My child's first word in English was:

8. My child's first non-English word was:

9. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is:

10. One thing I love about being an APA parent is:

11. One thing I hate about being an APA parent is:

12. The best thing about being part of an APA family is:

13. The worst thing about being part of an APA family is:

14. To me, being Asian Pacific American means:

And heck, if any of you APA daddy types out there is interested in joining the Rice Daddy crack commando blogsquad, shoot me a message with some info about yourself and (if you have one) your current blog--I'll pass it on to Jason, as the roster has started to grow.

Some quick announcements:

Ed Kahana shot me a release about the premiere of the indie, feature-length martial arts action comedy CONTOUR (countourmovie.com), presented by a collective of self-made martial-arts stunt studs (and one studette) known as the Stunt People (thestuntpeople.com). The movie looks a little homemade, but some of the choreography and definitely the overall vibe of what they do channels old school Jackie Chan and the Yuen Brothers shiznit. All I've seen is the trailer, but color me impressed so far. Watch this space for more. The July 13 premiere at San Francisco's Four Star Theatre is sold out; there are two more screenings, on July 27 and August 11, so if you're in the Bay Area, check 'em out.

More comic antics: Comedian HENRY CHO--the funniest Dixie-fried Korean American standup I've had the pleasure to watch--has a one-hour special debuting on Comedy Central on July 14; his first-ever DVD/CD, WHAT'S THAT CLICKIN' NOISE? drops four days later, on July 18. Check out his website for more deets.

And for those of you who are fans of PUFFY--the J-pop girl duo flava, that is--Ami and Yumi are currently on their 2006 Splurge Splurge Splurge Tour of the U.S. I've seen 'em in concert, and they're legit bubblegum fun. These days, given their 'toon success with THE PUFFY AMIYUMI SHOW, you may have to wade through a sea of tweens to get in the door...

Puffy AmiYumi 'Splurge Splurge Splurge' 2006 US Tour
July 8 Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia PA
July 9 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
July 11 River to River Festival @ The World Financial Center, New York, NY
July 12 Avalon Ballroom, Boston, MA
July 14 Bogart's, Cincinnati, OH
July 15 Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL
July 18 St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit, MI
July 19 House of Blues Cleveland, Cleveland, OH

Meanwhile, after reading my column "WARRIOR WOMEN," David Wells of the National Film Preservation Foundation wrote in to share his impressive fansite dedicated to classic Hong Kong superstar CONNIE CHAN PO CHU. Chan, one of the "Seven Cantonese Princesses" whose cinematic exploits enchanted folks throughout Asia during the Sixties, acted in her share of woman-warrior epics--but was notable for frequently playing a *boy*, in romantic roles opposite femme fellow Princess Josephine Siao Fong Fong. Unfortunately, Chan is mostly unknown here in the U.S., where the mad, mod flicks of Hong Kong's teenybopper canon never saw release (and where Chan's other, Cantonese Opera-inspired works would draw little more than puzzled stares). If you're sufficiently bilingual, however, you can find many of these films for bargain prices at your local Chinatown...

And that's it for this post-Independence Day edition of Instant Yang!

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