Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fortune Cookie of the Day: Chinese Backstreet Boys

So I returned to this video of pure awesomeness. I watched it awhile back when the Backstreet Boys were up on a pedestal. Then I remembered why it's still hilarious...the Chinese ALWAYS make the bootleg version better. ALWAYS. 5 years later and still hilarious.

Some things to observe that make this rendition too strategically great:

1. The oblivious gamer geek in the back
2. The guy on the left with a broken arm cast, singing his heart out
3. The NBA Houston Rockets' Yao Ming basketball jersey that's being worn
4. The ending spoof scenes, especially when they have the typical Chinese student moment of "Oh, here's your homework." And then go into singing Backstreet Boys again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back to being a Cubicle Mole

So survival mode went into play and I'm now back into the workforce...full-time this time. Yayyyyy me. Well not really. I don't exactly loathe working, and this time it's for a nonprofit I absolutely admire. This only means my time spent on 'blogging' about nonsense will be limited...or it may be brief, like this ONE!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A little time for PLAY

So my friend, Erika Crane, was in a play called Ching Chong Chinaman. Obviously, when I heard the title, I knew I had to immediately go see it!!! She was nice enough to give me two free tickets, so my girl Dolly and I went in uber excitement.

In a nutshell, the play revolves around a Chinese-American family of four that cannot get in touch with their inner "Asian". Comedic trouble ensues when their computer gamer son enlists a 'study slave' from China named (tada) Ching Chong, to do his homework. It's not too long, before the mother engages in innocent romance that the family starts breaking down stereotypes and all the dark skeletons come out of the closet. Then you find it's not a typical Chinese family after all.

Among other things, there were themes of cultural isolation, the laughable Asian Minority Model, and the dark dysfunctional family that we all know too well.

I couldn't stop laughing hysterically. Especially when Erika had a scene kissing her co-star as an obsessed school girl and I almost died 'cause her husband (who is also my co-worker and friend) was sitting next to me and lifted his eyebrow just enough for me to laugh. Apparently I was the only one in the audience who squeeled. Yeah, a tad embarrassing when heads are turning around wondering if it was my first time seeing humans kiss!

To cut this blog post short, the moral of this is how wonderfully connected the play's plot was to the context of me, my life, and pretty much my blog. Also, I realized that I should really go see theater more often in general. If anyone gets a chance, go see a play at your local theater. Not just a major production like Nutcracker or Rent kind of deal....but one based on culture. Culture as in any kind of cultural connotation. You'll find it wasn't regrettable after all!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Correct Way to Identify an Asian Person

The Infamous Conversation

THE IGNORANT: So, where are you from?
ME: Laos
THE IGNORANT: Oh, so you're Hmong!
ME: (pauses in awe), I am not Hmong. I am a Lao person from Laos.

I've been compelled to write a note after this above conversation occurred a little more frequently than I would have liked this month. Especially during some wasteful networking encounters. I'm a mutt, but I grew up with a mesh of cultures that are just simply put, Southeast Asian. Maybe I have an identity crisis...hmmm. It gets tiring to explain everything and then I want to go into the "it's all the same" mode, but the above situation is what happens. So I repeat, DO NOT LET IT GO. I've made this easy for you, my little wontons! Refer them to my checklist below.

It's OK if you just don't know, but it only makes it worse if you assume more than you learn. I love the "where are you from?" question. Sometimes I like to mess around and say "I'm from Minneapolis" and then they start feeling like idiots. I always try to figure out what the hell the hidden intentions are for asking. To judge how cool I might be based on my level of cool Asian culture? To find out if Asians really are all the same? Maybe to just know where I live. Who knows.

In our melting pot age, where nationalism and ethnicity are not one in the same thing...the more appropriate question should be "what's your ethnic background?" With so many Asians who are adopted, mixed, or unsure pure twinkies cringing at this question, you wonder if you ran across the other side of the comfort line or if you should ask at all....blah blah blah. How can I help you with this dilemma?

Let's start with a checklist I came up with called "The Correct Way to Identify an Asian Person":

1. Introduce yourself and ask for their first name. If it sounds Asian, then you hit the jackpot, go to #3. If it sounds anything but Asian, then proceed to #2.

2. Check their last name. If it is American, DO NOT proceed to #3, 'cause they are either married to an American person or adopted by an American family. If it might be Asian, proceed to #3.

3. Ask yourself, "is it Chinese or Japanese?" Sound out their name in the best popular Asian accent possible. OK, OK, I'm totally kidding. If it sounds a little off, chances are you're right. Proceed to #4.

4. Finally, ask them "what is your family's ethnic background?" or "what ethnicity is your last name?" Even if you're positive you know what kind of Asian they are, save the embarrassment. By adding, "I knew that!", you get a 1,000 bonus points with the yellow folks. #5 will come naturally.

5. The Asian person will happily answer you and ta-da! You got a winner of a conversation looking not too stupid and somewhat sensitive.

6. If the Asian person honors your respectful inquiry, you will be allowed a pass into the circle of Asian Awesomeness.

7. Reap your rewards in such forms like an invitation to go over to their house for yummy noodles or Asian drama films. Be warned of possible consequences like weight gain or yellow fever. Although, true tip: food is a perfect starting point to an Asian person's heart.

8. IF YOU WANT TO SCORE AN ASIAN: Maybe you decide you'd like to further this into the realm of romance??? Showcase your Asian knowledge by saying things specific to their ethnic background. For example, "do you cook any Japanese food? I love eating sushi!" or "can you teach me "hello there beautiful" in Thai?". Avoid typically bad pick-up lines like "You can Thai me up any day" or "Mi-so-ho-ni", etc. It is too forced and definitely offensive.

Now that wasn't too difficult, right? If you like this checklist or have an ignorant buddy, re-post, pass it on. If you still have questions, please go see your local 'qualified' Asian person.

May the Yellow Force be with you, my furry friends.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So, are you Chinese or Japanese?

I live in Minnesota. Land of so many damn immigrants. I too can be considered a Mutt. But what does it mean to be Lao or Thai or Vietnamese if I could just be grouped into "Asian"? Well let me tell you blissfully ignorant is not the same. Please don't feel guilty if you are on the other side of the aisle. It's not your fault, really. But it is your fault if you decide to not learn a damn thing. It's the society of "I see no color" that we live in. This points to such implications like people opening grocery stores called "oriental", ordering "Asian" take-out means Chinese food and chopsticks, and infamous pickup lines. I agree, it's pretty funny. I like to laugh at my own stereotypes too. But this only equals more ignorance than the universe can possibly hold.

Yes, most of the time it's just plain easier to inhibit the popular stereotypes, than to explain it to every single person who comes up to you and ask "so are you Chinese or Japanese?" (as King of the Hill billies blurted). But this ultimately has become problematic to the rest of the American folks that think we're suppose to be experts in everything Asian. Now I know that even the brightest Minority Model Asians does not know...especially since they're too busy studying math and science. OK, I kid, I kid!

We have to remember we live in a VERY big world. Maybe sometimes, it feels TOO small at the same time. Does it mean it's OK to just say anyone with yellow pale skin, black hair, and maybe some squinty eyes are just "Asian"? Coming from someone that fits that, it is no longer OK. Well at least I hope I'm expressing anxiety on behalf of all Asians. In addition, Asians should also share the blame for letting the guessing game go on and on. Now look what you did....everyone thinks we look the same! When really they're the ones that are fixated with the American-made stereotypical figure of Ching Chong Chinaman and Miss Saigon!

So how come the Chinese and Japanese have it easier than, let's say, Mongols or Tibetans? Aside from the fact that maybe people think Kung Fu and Anime are the best pop inventions ever; from a historical background, it's because they were the first Asians to make the 'first impression' to Americans back then (I mean the 1800s and California railroad system days). So that was when the mystical figure of the "ching chong chinaman" geared with a bamboo hat and chopsticks really took the stage of Asian stereotypes. Since then, industries bloomed with Chinese this and Japanese that. Now, obviously that has changed with a gazillion folks from all ends of the Eastern "oriental" world coming to American shores.

Enough of the history talk. All "we" (as in pretty much ALL Asians) would like to ask is for a tiny door of sensitivity to an open-mind. It really would make "our" days so much easier to bear with. I don't want to walk around with an "all Asians are the same" suit anymore. At the same time, you fellow Asians shouldn't just let peope get away with it. It comes back to bite you in the ass when your friends come to you with everything Asian and you feel dumb. Well you should, you dumbass you let it happen. Educate a little few friends and it shall pass on and on and on. Trust me. I've seen it work, especially when I hear some mutual friends tell the EXACT story I told.

Although I can hardly admit that Minnesota is a full blown metropolitan city with enough wise cats to figure out who from who, we seem to be somewhat on track towards progress. For example, I have "formally" educated my fellow co-workers and non-Southeast Asian friends what my ethnicity is and yapping this and yapping that about my family's background. I think they're practicing to get better at figuring it out before asking others as well. It's risky business folks, but so are my stereoptyes. I'm not an angry little Asian girl. Just a simpleton that is speaking out of silence. I forsee happy news. Fortune cookies to all!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Who doesn't like a little egg yolk?

Do you have a perspective?

I told myself a while back, after a few failed blogs..."one day, you'll really keep a blog this time around". Maybe that day has come. I don't really know. But we shall see, will we?

What am I doing here? Perhaps spending away my precious time. I don't need to point to the news. The economy, the foreclosures, the lay-offs, war, violence, etc. The gloom and sadness of it all isn't going to stop any time soon. But how do we rise above it all with a smile? I want to figure that part out myself. I think it's easier to find myself submerged in an abundance of depressive tendencies rather than the loves that I didn't know was hidden behind my secret curtain of "I'm OK". Now is the time.

Everyone finds inspiration at least once...some point in their lifetime. I find them in the smallest ways and from strangers I've met. I'm on a quest to seek, learn, listen, hear everything and everyone of culture...influences, people, places, and spaces. From the quiet cold shores of Duluth to every corner of the meat district in Bolivia to the karaoke bars in Tokyo. I want to learn it ALL. I want to drink it, eat it, live it, feel it, sleep on it. Desensitize myself from the meta-information of distractions and junky noise we call sensationalism.

So what about me, you ask? Let's just start in a nutshell...I was laid off from the best job ever last year in November. Now I'm working on odd barely paying jobs part-time, setting up a few business ventures, back in grad school pursuing a Master's degree to be more marketable, and just taking care of my fab fam. Yes, I had time. Time to sit down. Time to think about it. Time to ask myself a few questions.

After job searching like a mad woman, I realized some things. Had I not taken the time to stop and see the simplest things I took for granted, I would have not sensed what really made me happy. I have a new home, two adopted pups that I adore, a boyfriend that loves me unconditionally, and family and friends that make life just a little more easier to bare on laughable terms. After realizing this, I landed on an article about organizing my mental clutter. Then I decided that I needed to find what happiness and being content meant to me. What does personal well-being mean to me? So I am in search of finding my equilibrium of somewhat of a self. Conscious and unconscious. I want to inhabit a better ME. It might be an outcry from isolation, I don't know. I shouldn't have to know. Even college years and waitressing days were transitional periods of self-discovery. Those that say they have a purpose or a plan are setting themselves up for broken promises and high hopes. Hey, it's great news if you do have it all set up and you're just riding the waves of 'a wonderful life' smoothly. But do you ask yourself if you're truly happy? Or is it really the end of the struggle to be meaningfully content?

I don't know what I'll find or what will happen during my quest. I don't even think I have a goal. Maybe because I don't want to disappoint myself or be underwhelmed. All I know is here and it is now or neverending. People, situations, conversations, and such...all have to mean something, right? I don't want to live in a black box constrained by my four brick walls. I don't want to dwell holes into the ground under my cubicle of mundane hell. Although I may not have the funds to venture the world on an endless journey...I really do hope I can anyway, in some way. Honestly, no one is as lucky as Bourdain climbing the walls of the world in awe. I would rather travel with just my backpack than work any day, I promise you. In the mean time, I welcome the baby steps needed to understand, peruse, and reflect on all things intriguing to me.

Yes, I am an aspiring world citizen of happiness. I am inspired. And so should you.