Wednesday, May 30, 2007

AXA Awards, Revisited

My memory finally kicked in about that show a couple weeks ago. I must've blocked it out or something. There were a couple things I must point out about the show.

One, Russel Peters is a funny-ass guy. He's a riot, and he can tell an Asian joke better than anybody. His joke about the Chinese soccer team had me rolling, especially in a huddle. Plus, his Cantonese accent is dead on.

Two, Grace Park is damn lovely. Man, that girl can light up a stage. I've never even seen the new "Battlestar Galactica" TV show she's on, but I can see why so many geeks tune into it and have BSG night. (Yeah, they include the "S" in that for some reason.) Oh, and she's also quite tall in heels. Daniel Dae Kim stood next to her as co-host and she was a couple inches taller. Daniel and I are about the same height, so yeah, I basically have no chance. But anyway...

Three, Chow-Yun Fat is losing his star power. Sure, he did the latest Pirates movie, but so did Geoffrey Rush, who introduced him on stage. I think it's because it took him a long, long time to learn English. I saw him up close in 1995 at a pre-event for an awards show in San Francisco. He looked to be about 6'2", 300 lbs. Seriously, the dude is big! But past his prime, IMHO.

Four, I saw my old boss/colleague James Ryu and his lovely wife Tammy, who is a superior court judge, I believe. James is the editor/publisher of KoreAm Journal and Audrey. We chatted a little and he was miffed because his seats were way in the back (where I was seated). I introduced him to Annie Lee, a beauty of an actress I've mentioned on this site, who was sitting on the other side of the aisle from me.

Five, John Cho is what gay folks might call "borderline." I say this because, lately, he gives me that vibe every time I see him around town. On stage, he presented an award to his co-star, Kal Penn, from that comedy they were in a couple years back about White Castle burgers. And then Cho squeezed Penn's ass on stage (with both hands) for comedy effect. Most people didn't laugh, fyi. It had the essence of "I'm gonna take you" in it. I felt uncomfortable, as did most people around me. (I think I mentioned he looked me up and down once at a party and went out of his way to compliment me on the coat I was wearing.)

And six, why did they have Sharon Leal from Dreamgirls as a presenter as well as up for an award? Is there something I'm missing here? Is this girl from Trinidad or something? Wait, is Trinidad part of India? Romany Malco of 40-Year-Old Virgin is from Trinidad, as is the young girl, Tatyana Ali, in "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

But I think if you're going to award someone for their acting, let it be in something that highlights their "Asianness" not their "blackness," and that's what Dreamgirls does. If not, then damn, let's nominate Romany Malco, too, because he was great in Virgin.

Tell you the truth, I wasn't going to talk about the show at all. But I went to the Angry Asian Guy site and he hardly even mentioned it. And, well, that made me angry. Funny how the memory kicks in when you're angry.


I think there's something wrong with my template on this thing but I'm not savvy enough about html to figure out how to debug it. Learning html has been a very slow process for me and I tend to just pick up little bits and pieces as I need to use different effects.

Back in college, I took two courses in computer science: Basic and Pascal. Pascal was supposed to be good for anyone into computers because it was a good beginner language. Basic was just stupid and I don't even know why they taught it, but I'm wondering now if it's at all similar to html. Actually, I couldn't tell you because I've forgotten everything I learned in those two courses.

My ex was a programmer, knowing pretty much all the most difficult stuff. Two of my brothers work for Boeing Computer Services as program debuggers. Why I didn't pick this stuff up via osmosis beats the hell out of me.

I do know that the things I obsess about are the things which I tend to thrive in. Take martial arts, for instance. I'm about as athletic (or non-athletic) as any guy, but I just love doing that shit, so once I start, I just can't stop until I'm ready for a new sensei or sifu. Unfortunately, martial arts doesn't help pay any bills. In fact, it's a drain on finances. But I love it!

One of my newest obsessions isn't something I'm likely to participate in. It's Flickr, that photo server that Yahoo! bought so photographers – pros and beginners alike – can share their photos with the world. I have an RSS feed on my Yahoo! homepage and I usually click on something every day. (FYI, the parent company of MySpace just bought PhotoBucket, which does the same thing as Flickr.)

And I know I'm not alone, because a photo will get seen by half a million people all over the world in just one day. That's serious reach, or there are a lot of fellow Flickr obsessors slash latent perverts out there.

Yeah, it's a perversion. It really is. Looking at other people's photos (aka voyeurism) isn't totally kosher. But what's weirder is the amount of exhibitionism on the site. Many of the photographers do loads and loads of self-portraits, particularly the female photogs. I mean, that's vanity taken to a whole other level.

I probably have done about 50 photo shoots in my day for different companies and I don't think I've seen even a handful of them. I don't even want to see them. It's probably a good thing I'm not famous because they'd probably all show up on some fan page.

Seriously, I just do the modeling stuff for the money, not the vanity. But Flickr? That's a whole other thing. And I'm happier for it....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Samurai Class

Three classmates in my samurai class were recently cast in a short film, which I think is pretty cool, not to mention amusing, especially since these three are some of the least experienced in the class. I should point out that it's a student film and won't pay anything, but it will give them something to show on their actor's reel.

Today, I trained mostly with one of the veterans in the class. She hadn't been there in a while, so she was a bit rusty. I worked on the "Vegas" routine with her and, damn, it's a different ballgame doing that routine with a girl. I used to train in JKD and my sifu often said Bruce Lee preferred training with his wife on certain exercises because she was quicker than most of his male students.

What that means is that men tend to initiate physical movements with their muscles, whereas women use their nerve reflexes when they do things like hitting or swinging a sword. So this girl and I perform a series of three quick swings where we both connect blades, just above our heads. That girl came so fast with her first swing, I hardly had time to even think before the next swing came, and then the last one. I nearly shit my pants on that last one.

I thought about it all through the rest of the class — that this girl was way faster than Tohoru, my male training partner. Anyway, it was way more thrilling, working out with her.

After the class, I headed to Nijiya Market on Sawtelle. I have a sushi party on Sunday night, just after an afternoon BBQ, so I wanted to pick up some seaweed salad, a head of cabbage, and a bottle of Otokoyama, my favorite sake. I haven't done one of these sushi parties in a while, mostly because I had a falling out with the fisherman who's also an old photographer friend of mine. It's complicated, but basically this dude cancelled out on a photo shoot with me so he could take care of another client.

I have my principles, so I boycotted the dude for the last 2 years. Looks like we're cool now. It's probably because I invited him to the Science of Sake event in April. That was a great event, fyi, and if you should hear about it next year, around this time, get your tickets early because it sells out fast. Anyway, he must've appreciated me getting the ticket, so it seems I'm the one who initiated all this.

I'll be doing much of the cutting duties at the sushi party as I happen to be pretty handy with a sashimi knife.

I also got an invite for a BBQ early Sunday afternoon at a DJ's house in Van Nuys. I met this dude when me and some friends went to a small party at a home owned by one of Bob Marley's kids. It was a lovely home with a kick-ass DJ setup. One of the DJs was from the Groove Junkies, another was Scott K, who is nationally known, and this guy with the BBQ tomorrow is named David Bullock.

They spin mostly house music, which I'm not normally a big fan of. But on that night, Scott K whipped up something my ears could not believe. It was insane, and that's all I can describe about it. He's got a free event called "dig x therapy" next Wednesday, the 30th of May, at a place called Tokio. If you're interested, check out his myspace page.

Unfortunately, I'll probably skip the DJ BBQ and go to a quieter BBQ a little closer to home. It'll probably be another Asian-American celebrity event, but on a much smaller and less pretentious scale. I'm bringing potato salad and a case of Stellas. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

This Past Week

I've been feeling anti-social lately. Maybe it's because I've been socializing so much. There was the VC Film Festival, which is an annual Asian-American indie film festival. I saw three films, which were fine. But it was talking to people—the same fricking people—over and over that made me feel sick.

I felt like they were sucking the living life out of me!

Then I went, reluctantly, to the Asian Excellence Awards. My friend had to work that night, and so he gave me his $60 ticket. It was an offer I should've refused. Why? Well, the show was OK. Russel Peters was a crack-up. Margaret Cho was great, too.

But after the show, there was an after-party in the Westwood area. My friend who gave me the ticket hung out at the venue, waiting for the show to end. We both knew there would be a separate VIP party and he had a ticket for it. I didn't, but it would've been fairly easy to get one.

But something inside me just didn't want to make the effort. I felt that it was wrong for there to be an "exclusive" party, aside from the public party. I think that's actually weird, coming from me, as I've benefitted a lot from my associations to be at these sort of things. But this one rubbed me the wrong way.

This awards show celebrated the accomplishments of Asians in entertainment. But then they hold a separate party away from the fans who support them and paid $60 a ticket to see them live. I'm ashamed of shit like that, and I didn't want any part of it.

Last year, they had one big party for everyone who attended the awards show. It was great fun and I think people expected the same thing this year.

After an hour, my friend left the public party to attend the VIP one. I knew he'd go. But that's his deal, not mine.

I was having a pretty fun time at the public party, hanging out with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. And then I saw Tamlyn Tomita, Emily Liu, David Ono and Esther Koh, so I sat with them a while. That was a blast. It was our own little exclusive table, but accessible enough so that anyone could come by and say hello.

Tamlyn has become my new favorite person to talk with. She even has a dirtier potty mouth than I do. I chatted with David Ono about my former career in TV news in Seattle. He was curious what it was like to work under Aaron Brown and I shared a couple stories. Emily has always been a good friend and I just like her as a person. She produced and co-starred in a movie called Trouble with Romance and now she's trying to sell it. She's very heavy in thought and spirit right now. Esther Koh was dressed very lovely and yet I know she's got a real side to her. I've also seen her act on stage and she's quite good.

Anyway, I think I'm starting to sour on this whole Asian in Hollywood thing. Maybe I just need to get away for a while. Move to Long Beach or something. Take a breather.

That's just what the doctor would order.

Stop Motion Video

I saw this new indie called Finishing the Game. It's a spoof on a bunch of white filmmakers trying to finish Game of Death, which would've been Bruce Lee's last film. It was really low budget... and lame. It's hard to figure out what the director, Justin Lin, had in mind when he made this thing.

Anyway, I like his film, Better Luck Tomorrow, but when you put out cheesy crap like Finishing the Game, it tends to put your past work in a different light. You start to notice all the cheesy crap he did in his last movie, and then it starts to snowball.

But I found a video that could possibly make Finishing the Game watchable. It uses stop motion video, which means they used a video camera, but stopped it at each movement of the actors. It's so low budget, it's cool. And that's my whole point. If you're going to make a low budget movie, make it cool for us to watch. Surprise us. Give us something to talk about so that our friends will want to see it also.

Stop Motion Dance Off - Watch more free videos

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Colbert Cracks Me Up

Stephen Colbert does a better mock Korean than I do. He even sings in it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

BBC Shogun TV Series

Two friends, Yuji Okumoto and Henry Hayashi, are in Kyoto right now shooting that BBC Shogun series. Henry sent some pictures of them training with the masters. FYI, they both had to shave their heads. Oh, boy!

Friday, May 11, 2007


I met up with a classmate from my samurai class at Echo Lake Park, just off the 101 Freeway and Alvarado, to work on what our sensei calls the “Vegas” routine. It’s a fight scene that someone had choreographed for a show in Vegas and my sensei wanted a few of us in the class to learn it and, possibly, perform it locally.

We met around 5:30 on a warm, sunny afternoon. A film was being shot just to the north of the park, and so we found a little spot in the middle to do our routine. As usual, a few spectators watched us from afar. After all, it’s not often you get to see two Japanese guys attacking each other with wooden swords in a public park.

Earlier, while crossing the street, a police car stopped me and asked what I was doing. “I’m going to practice in the park,” I said. He asked me what I was carrying and I said it was a wooden sword. “Oh, I thought it was something else,” he said, laughing to his partner as he drove off.

Tohoru is the name of my classmate, and we spent about an hour practicing and another hour talking about the “business.” Tohoru was up for a couple parts recently, one of which was for a BBC TV series called “Warriors.” He and his agent thought he had booked it after being put on “hold” and told to get his passport in order. Last week, my friend Yuji Okumoto, an actor who made his initial fame on a Karate Kid movie, called me to ask about a samurai movie I had heard about. I also mentioned there was a BBC project that was being cast and he said he booked it and was flying off to Japan to shoot it the following Monday.

Tohoru was completely bummed out about not booking the BBC gig (apparently, I broke the news to him), but then he just found out he booked 3 weeks on a Sci-Fi Channel movie that was filming in Louisiana, so things were okay with him.

Tohoru has the philosophy that we are “all doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing,” which is a great attitude and perhaps a cop-out at the same time. But I respect the philosophy and also agree with most of the statement. The part I don’t agree with is the notion that it seems to mean that we are all doing what we should be doing. I just don’t understand what it is that we should be doing.

For instance, I recently mentioned a friend, Chin Han, whom I met at a coffee shop in Hollywood. He was dressed in a suit that day and was looking sharper than usual. I asked him what was up and he said he had had a very important meeting that day. I tried to ask further but he had only received a verbal offer and wasn’t comfortable divulging anything at that point. He just talked about what it must be like for a guy to go from obscurity to celebrity overnight.

A couple days ago, I invited Chin Han to a mixer in Beverly Hills and met up with a couple close friends, one of whom is Pat Morita’s daughter and the other a First AD who most recently finished working on the TV series, “What About Brian?” Chin Han then mentioned to me what project he had booked. It’s the next Batman movie with Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Heath Ledger. He’s leaving for London next week and will be traveling for the next 5 months.

After the mixer, we then went to The Standard on Sunset Blvd. and saw my old Yolk Magazine colleague Celene, who is known locally as DJ Syrena. She’s been spinning Wednesdays at The Standard for a few years now and she’s spinning at Circus (for those who know the electronic music scene) on Saturday. Recently, she was featured in a huge spread on female DJs in the Calendar section of the L.A. Times.

But back to Chin Han. Earlier, I mentioned he was a producer for the Asian Excellence Awards and he also produces and directs mainstage theatre in Singapore. Some of his productions included The Blue Room and Closer. He also was an actor in Singaporean soap operas, which apparently is a pretty common thing to do there, but hardly anyone knows him as an actor these days.

During our coffee meeting, he mentioned that he works very little as an actor, perhaps one movie every two years. “You, on the other hand, work all the time, compared to me.” Well, those are his words, not mine. And sure, 10 print jobs and a commercial or two per year does seem like a lot compared to one summer blockbuster movie. Not! Uh-uh, not even close. He wanted to know how much he should expect to make on a big summer movie and I said that if it’s a good part, he could make well into the hundreds of thousands, just through box office residuals alone.

In a couple of weeks, I’m working at the ad agency where I work on the one-sheets for such movies as Batman. That’s a 2-week gig. And then I have a couple weeks break, then another 2-week gig at another freelance client’s office. I’ll have to “book out” with my agencies for those weeks, but as I told Tohoru, it’s just like booking any other gig where you aren’t available to audition during the time you are working.

I’m thinking of heading to Singapore between gigs. Not to act, but to visit friends Jason Scott Lee and Jimmy T while they film a movie. Who knows? Maybe they’ll let me walk on as an extra.

While barhopping on Sunset Blvd., I asked Ms. Morita what it was like when her father hit the big time. She said it was when he was about 38 and their family of four was struggling to make ends meet. That show that changed it all was “Happy Days,” and, boy, was it. After the show ended, he didn’t work for a while, but then he got cast in Karate Kid, and then life changed for the Morita family completely.

She met pretty much everyone there was to meet, recalling what it was like to meet TV, music and movie idols at the age of 5.

These days, there’s very little that would make an impression on Ms. Morita. But she seemed pretty excited for Chin Han, who was happy to hear the story about her dad. Pat Morita passed away just over a year ago.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hollywood's Burning (Again)

Someone apparently started this deliberately. Wow, that's a rough sentence to read. Anyway, here's a pic I lifted from another site.

It's also very hot outside, and so when I turned on my AC at home, I started coughing, perhaps from the smoke in the air.

I'm now using the refrigerator as my AC.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Secret

My Dad used to play golf every weekend in a community tournament, then come home and show me his new swing. Every time he came home, despite how his game had gone that weekend, he had this unmistakable renewed look of hope. That he had finally found “the secret.”

Which is what he used to call his new swing: the secret. As in, “I’ve found the secret.”

And every weekend, just like clockwork, he’d come home with a brand-new secret swing to show me. I’m not sure what to make of myself, but I must’ve been one captive audience. I don’t know if I’d ever have the patience now to listen to someone—much less a family member—every week tell me about his new swing.

Looking back, I realize that telling a kid something like that could result in one major mind fuck. I mean, to a kid, your dad or mom is the original authority figure in your life. For that authority to constantly and consistently change the definitions of the world around you could possibly result in a lack of stability or mental grounding.

Fortunately, my Mom was a rock. As solid as one, and could hurt you physically like one as well. My Dad did his fair share of beating, but my Mom is the one who brought fear to my cheeks, arms and legs with just a gesture she was about to pinch me with her powerful claws.

Oh, that’s right. That would make her a crab. But anyway, she was my rock, while Dad was the water that flowed around it.

I think it’s okay to have parents like that. Seriously. But at some point, you must figure it out. You must reach some epiphany about the world and who taught you its rules.

My epiphany came one day when my Dad threw me to the ground, put his knees on my arms, and slapped the living shit out of me. I don’t remember how many times he hit me, but I think it’s fair to say it was more than enough to convince me not to be his audience member every weekend.

Oh, I should explain that the face beating wasn’t unwarranted. I was being quite a brat that day, but that is all I remember. I hope that I will never reach that level of anger with my kids, but who knows? I’ve never been a father before. At least, not that I know of.

Yesterday, I was hanging out with some friends and I noticed one of them looked a bit heavy in the belly area. I told him I’ve been avoiding wheat products, per the information from my friend’s comments on this site, and that it seemed to be working for me, also. He then looked at the beer I was consuming and I told him I made a couple of exceptions every now and then.

I also mentioned I’ve been eating more yogurt because I was concerned I’m consuming too much yeast via red wines and Belgian ales. Theoretically, the active cultures in the yogurt counteract the potential yeast growth in your body. I don’t know where I got that from, but I think it was a nutrition class in college.

Anyway, the point is—and I know it took a while to reach it—that I realize I’ve become a bit like my Dad. I got theories coming out of my ass like you wouldn’t believe. But like my friend who told me about the wheat diet, I never preached that my nutrition methods would help anyone but me.

Or, at least I think it’s helping me. Stay tuned next week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Boeing Company

In Seattle, the Boeing Company continues to be one of the biggest employers, either directly or indirectly through its various vendors and consultants. I know a little bit about this company, mostly because I have dozens of friends and relatives who currently or once worked for them. People work for them for years—their first job out of college—and then retire from that same one job.

It’s a job that pays decently, is relatively secure and you can be pretty sure that what you’ll be doing 10 years from now is what you’re doing right now. I sincerely mean no disrespect. Heck, I’m one who enjoys proofreading hours upon hours, so repetition definitely has its benefits.

Through the years, Boeing employees have hung their head low when business is slow, when a recession kicks in and their jobs are at stake, or when something adverse happens in the news relating to a Boeing airplane or government contract. After all, it’s hard not to notice a Boeing employee, especially by the picture nametag hanging on their pocket that they often forget to remove when they go home.

But for the most part, Boeing has been stable and steady enough for most employees to hold their head up with a bit of pride. Every once in a while, it even feels cool to work for Boeing and the exciting aerospace industry, whether you’re a software engineer like my old schoolmate, a program debugger like my two brothers, an interior designer like a couple of my female friends, or a draftsman like my uncle.

As for me, well, I once modeled for a Boeing print ad. Yup, no wonder my family doesn’t talk about me much.