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Archive for October, 2006

Asian Fusion

Yesterday, my kids and I went into our local Target to pick up a few things. When you first enter the store, there’s this special section for super-cheap and/or seasonal items usually costing a dollar. When we walked by it yesterday, my daughter grabs my arms and says, “Mom, look ‘Asian fusion’.”

“What’s that?” I asked. It sounded like some kind of ancient Chinese secret fad drink. What I saw was a variety of items like a set of sake cups, rice bowls, satin bags that looked like make-up bags that had peony patterns, chopstick holders, bamboo trays and fan shaped spoon holders. “So this is what we’ve been reduced to?” I said a bit too loudly. The “Asian Fusion” was actually a cheap mix of fake Asian or “FAsian” as Mudeng would say, of Japanese and Chinese icons. Obviously, my daughter knows me too well, “You should have brought your camera, mom.” Unfortunately, I’d left it at home.

As a kid, I would have bought them all which is sad more than anything. As a teenager, I would have been thrilled to see anything Asian. Yesterday, I just felt a bit insulted. There was a time when I wasn’t sure whether I should feel insulted or flattered when I saw anything “Asian” on television, in the malls or department stores. In a weird way, I felt represented which was a far cry from my early days of attempting to forget and “cover” my “Asianess”.

It took a long time to realize that this shit doesn’t represent me in any way nor would I want to be represented in such a narrow, stereotyped way. What Asian Fusion did represent was a sad reminder of we are generalized into cheap, commercialized consumable bits. *sigh Such a long way to go. At least, there were no plastic Buddhas.

Out of curiosity, I looked to see where these things were produced and printed across the bottom was “Made in China”. Does that make it authentic?

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Reading

Looks like I’ve dropped the blogging ball this month and it’s only going to get worse. I have ideas for so many posts, but by the time I sit down to write either something comes up or I’m already falling asleep or both. It’s been a busy month and looks like it’s only going to get busier.

I’ve just completed Duong Thu Huong‘s “No Man’s Land” which reads like a K-drama complete with a love triangle between a woman and her two husbands. One was taken for dead but returned years later, after “Mien” had already re-married and had a son. The setting is post-war Vietnam and centers around Mien’s choice between her duty to honor the sacrifice of her veteran husband and her desire to stay with her son and the man she loves. The story in itself is not unique but it does humanize the hard choices and personal tragedies that are the result of war.

The book offers another view of the Vietnam War and its consequences, society, the power of community and duty. There were moments when it was difficult to keep from screaming, “OMG, that’s so sexist!” Actually, I did a few times. What can I say? I’m biased.

Next up are Novel Without a Name by the same author and The Tapestries by Kien Nguyen. I’m also trying to hunt down works by Vietnamese poets and writers that discuss Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans in today’s context. I do have a few on my list but please, holler if you have any recommendations.

Still digesting the first half of Kenji Yoshino’s Covering. I shouldn’t try to read three books simultaneously but it’s a bad habit of mine.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Videos

Among other things, I’ve been catching up on movies lately, movies I’ve wanted to see but either couldn’t get or didn’t know about. There’s so many. Can you believe I’ve just now seen Better Luck Tomorrow and The Overture? Should I mention the Korean series like Full House, Stairway to Heaven and Love to Kill? Avoid that last one, it’s seriously depressing. Stairway to Heaven was just plain annoying then depressing. Full House was a definite winner. Better Luck Tomorrow made me raise eyebrows and go eh?. I’m all for busting stereotypes, but must we go to extremes?

What can I say? It’s refreshing to see Asians on my television screen outside the usual American mainstream, stereotyped framework. I’ll watch bad films made by Asians about other Asians not being too picky at this point. That will probably set in later. Besides, it’s different somehow. I even watched part of a Chinese series dubbed in Vietnamese (can’t remember the name), complete with Bruce Lee-like screaming, clang, ching-ching dubbed sword fights and didn’t flinch much. I finally had to stop though because my ears started ringing.
Currently, I have 2046 on hold at the library with a few more yet to arrive. Ahhh, I love inter-library borrowing.

Oh yes, then there was this one snippet of a video. Several people have emailed it to me but I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond. I could rant but it’s really not worthy of a rant because it’s just so ridiculous. Besides, Bryan beat me to the punch and I think his response is noteworthy. It made me laugh anyway because “monkeys” is exactly what came to mind when I saw the Jump Rope for Jesus video. I was just too embarrassed to say it.

By themselves, I think the kids are great but in that particular context, all I could think to say was, “Gah, people! Wtf?!”

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