On that matter, here's a critical, contextual look at the racial themes of Avatar: When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar? For a snarkier look at the movie, nihilistic_kid praises the film for being "a step forward in science fiction film in that it is only forty years behind science fiction literature rather than the usual fifty years".
On that matter, here's a critical, contextual look at the racial themes of Avatar: When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar? For a snarkier look at the movie, nihilistic_kid praises the film for being "a step forward in science fiction film in that it is only forty years behind science fiction literature rather than the usual fifty years".
I think there's two generally different approaches to tagging that aren't necessarily exclusive to each other. One is to help yourself find things; one is to help other people find things. The difference is that with the former, you can tag things in a slightly obscurish manner, or in a haphazard manner, and most of the time (when you remember) you know why you tagged it the way you tagged it. When trying to tag things to help other people find those things, though, you have to be a little more objective/factual/whatever about it, and probably stick to the basics. Here on LJ, I waver between the first approach to tagging and the second approach. My Delicious account is private, though, so there's not too much of an issue there.
Still, one area where I'm personally running into tagging issues is when I'm trying to tag things about various kinds of Serious Business, i.e. politics, economics, racism, anti-oppression/anti-prejudice in general. I'll probably be able to work out some sort of personal system as I continue wading through these things and making sense of them, but at the moment it's pretty overwhelming. (I am also going cross-eyed at the thought of trying to tag all of my imported Firefox bookmarks, some of which were left untagged from the last time I substantially used Delicious about a year or so ago. Eep.)
"Moe: The Cult of the Child" is an evenhanded analysis of the moe phenomenon in otaku culture, where there is a lot of focus on the cutesy antics of young, adolescent girls who sometimes look like they've got girls' heads pasted onto women's bodies. The author discusses the appeal of the genre and what that appeal means for society as a whole.
This is an informative but depressing interview about the crap-covered state of the U.S. insurance industry by Bill Moyers with Wendell Potter, the former Head of Public Relations of Cigna, one of America's largest health insurers.
An A-to-Z Smorgasbord of Overused Graphic Concepts and Resources.
cupcake_goth, a.k.a. Jillian Venters, a.k.a. the Lady of the Manners, recently posted about plans for a book-promoting picnic at a large graveyard. She was apparently berated by a fan who thought she was disrespecting the dead in doing so. However, in the comments to the entry, one learns that the big public/non-churchyard cemeteries and graveyards were, to some extent, intended as large public parks, to be freely enjoyed by anyone who wanted to hang out there for whatever reason (whether it was just to sit down and read or to take a walk or even to have weddings). There's an interesting discussion about the intersection of life and death with regards to that particular context. Myself, I remember visiting this one pretty large cemetery up on the North Side (I think it was off the Addison Red Line stop?) back in my freshman year of college, and being both haunted and fascinated by the history in it. I've always wanted to go back and wander around some more, especially in nicer weather (since when I went it was cold and rainy; wouldn't mind the rain so much if it hadn't also been chilly).
Two instances of HELL FUCKING YES for the Reileen! First off, Dead Fantasy III has gone live, focusing on a one-on-one fight between Tifa from FF7 and Hitomi from DoA. I cannot tell you how much I love the Dead Fantasy series for its absolutely ri-cock-ulous Physics Does Not Work That Way fight scenes. It's absurdly beautiful and beautifully absurd. And as impossibly beautiful as all the women are, I'm glad that the creator seems to be focusing more on the amount of ass they can kick instead of the amount of ass they've got exposed. I can't wait for the next few installments, particularly in light of the ending scene for DF3.
AvatarFail continues with four headshots of the four main characters. Leaving aside the obvious racial problems, what the fuck is up with Zuko's "scar"? It looks like the makeup artist smeared clay on the side of his face and then called it a day. And I know that this is only one headshot, but Aang just looks so RAWR and sulky and I'm like WHERE DID MY SEAL-SLEDDING AVATAR GO NOOOOO. As a bit of an antidote to this clusterfuck, here's a survey in three parts about the many ways that A:TLA subverts the status quo (and some of the ways that it doesn't!).
Cool nature thing of the day: watermelon snow, which is snow that is not only pink but also, indeed, smells faintly of watermelons! Look but don't taste.
While soldiering through the archives of The Straight Dope (I actually got through all 57 pages! Though I didn't read all the columns, obviously), I found that they had addressed how the word "gay" came to mean "homosexual". I'm particularly fascinated by the fact that "to gay it" once meant "to copulate", and am now imagining the word "gay" in place of another certain word that also means "to copulate." For example: "Well, gay you to hell and back!", or "GAY THIS GAYING SHIT!" or "That's gaying awesome." Certainly "mothergayer" would have interesting implications. In a situation where things have just gone to shit, I think the mood would be lightened considerably if someone uttered "We're totally gayed." (This totally puts Jade Curtiss' "A Definition of the Word 'Fuck'" in an entirely new light. WHY DON'T YOU PLAY HIDE AND GO GAY YOURSELF???)
Nine reasons the economy is not getting better.
From Lifehacker (that name is epic), how to bake cookies on your dashboard harnessing the heat accumulated inside your car on a steamy summer day. WIN.
Finally, this entry is one that I swear everyone needs to be smacked with at least once in their life: jimhines discusses why it's even more important to dissect pop culture for problematic themes and attitudes than it is to do the same for more "literary" works. The very accessibility of pop culture is exactly why problems with the culture need to be examined and brought out into the open. It sends a message to people, hey, look, these problems haven't gone away. They're not hiding under the dustbunnies of history and obfuscated academia; they're in the center of the room, flailing their hands and dancing. (IN UR ROOM, FLAILING THEIR HANDZ)
Also watched Police Story 4: First Strike recently. This is one of Jackie Chan's American/English films. Long story short, Chan plays an HK police officer who gets whored out by his superior to the CIA in order to track down a suitcase nuke. His job takes him first to Ukraine, then all the way down under to Australia. The version of the movie I was watching was all English-dubbed, but apparently in the original cut, there were instances where some of the characters were speaking either Cantonese, Ukrainian, Russian, etc. Anyway, plot is kind of silly, the fight scenes were slightly disappointing until the end, where not only did you have Jackie fighting for a couple of minutes while on stilts, but then you also had underwater kung-fu in a tank with a man-eating shark. I shit you not. I also liked this scene, set inside what looks like a large warehouse - among other things, Jackie performs some seriously amazing stunts with what looks like a 12-foot-tall ladder or thereabouts.
*looks back over this entry* ...RAWR, how am I going to tag this thing?
or am I just wasting time?
I found this interesting article about Michelle Obama's efforts to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised in the DC area.
I also recently discovered the work of Jay Smooth on YouTube, who posts short vlogs about pop culture and sociopolitical issues. He has a direct style that is not too "in-your-face" and is easy to follow and understand. "Asher Roth and the Racial Crossroads" is an excellent rebuttal to the idea "that racist/homophobic/bigoted jokes were a sign of a progressive population and therefore anyone who called him on his racist, homophobic, sexist, bigoted jokes is against an egalitarian society" (quoted from this comment over at JF's UnfunnyBusiness comm, where I found the video link). There's also a transcript of this particular video here at racism_101.
Also by Jay Smooth is "How To Tell People They Sound Racist", which should be required viewing for anyone interested in anti-oppression work of any sort, not just racism. No transcript that I've seen yet, unfortunately, but as I said before, he's easy to follow.
At Racialicious, Ay-leen the Peacemaker analyzes two potential colonial visions of America in steampunk, the "nostalgic" and the "melancholic". vyctori, you should probably take a look at this.
It's from that Racialicious linke that I think I stumbled upon Blue Corn Comics, which is a blog focusing on First Nations culture, from history to traditions to modern portrayals and stereotypes, and also branches out into wider implications for anti-racism work and race in America. There's some stuff like Video Games Featuring Indians and Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom, and then there's also his rebuttal against the notion of "equal opportunity offending".
From that site, I also found "21st-Century Warrior":
In the Sun Dance, I learned what the warrior path was truly about. It had nothing to do with what I had seen in movies, heard in music, or read in books. It wasn't about being destructive, being the toughest person in the neighborhood, or any media-stained image. I realized in my moments of terror, pain, and loneliness that this ceremony wasn't about me but about the people I can serve in my life. The warrior concept is simply taking our own talent and ability and developing it so we can serve and defend others. The warrior's goal was to become an asset to the village they served. The warriors of the past like Pontiac, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, and Osceola were warriors not only because of their exploits in battle, but because they served their people the best way they knew how and spent their lifetimes becoming assets to their village. Today, your "village" could be your family, community, country, clients, or any other group you serve.
I first stumbled across this piece during RaceFail'09, but it was quoted in one of the Blue Corn Comics pages as well, so I figured now's a good a time as any to point readers here - The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness".
Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It's no coincidence that "PC"-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, "Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn't portray them? I'm not going to say 'mentally challenged' when it's my right to say 'retard', goshdarnit there's only so much abuse I'll take!"*
In this context, the conceit that "political correctness" constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society's marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I'm concerned you're free to call me "chink" and I'm free to call you "moronic racist loser" (and more if necessary, but I'll leave that aside for now in the interest of false civility). Free speech is the straw man of choice for intellectual bums of all stripes too fragile and vacuous for critical engagement. Calling someone who says or does bigoted things "a bigot" isn't censorious, it's descriptively accurate, like calling a bad movie "a bad movie", even if the bigot didn't intend to come off as bigoted and the movie didn't intend to come off as bad.
Randomly, The Straight Dope discusses Chicago's Anti-Ugliness Ordinance, which thankfully has since been repealed.
So, yeah, I got some serious stuff going on up there in the links. And I didn't even post some of the other ones I found because I need to take time
eyecatching_art had this epic picture of Wolfwood!Hobbes and Vash!Calvin.
Hallelujah, It's Rainin' 300 Men!
Best of the Worst: Twilight Tattoos. Yes, that is as bad as it sounds.
The Angry Asian Man posts about this excellent stop-motion animation piece done by Bang-yao Liu as his senior project at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
File this under "bzuh?": Michael Jackson considered releasing his next album as a video game. H-how was that even going to work? Not that I'm not interested in the results, but the logistics of it are...interesting, to say the least.
*glances over link-o-llection* ...rawr. I swear I need to get back to organizing my bookmarks. I've had stuff tagged over at my Delicious account, but I think when I upgraded Firefox I brokinated the extension I had that let me easily add bookmarks to Delicious, and I never bothered to upgrade. So lately I've just been filing stuff under one huge folder in my Firefox bookmarks. But if I'm going to get anywhere in my informal self-education, I need to actually remember where I've been so that I can better map out where I'm going.
Anyway, I deleted my original MySpace account because something got borked with the layout editing feature and apparently MySpace couldn't fix it. I signed up for a new account, then realized from clicking through MySpace Help that, hey, I should've actually signed up specifically for a musician profile from the start, because MySpace can't convert profiles from one to the other! So I clicked on the link in the help page that was supposed to help you "get started", only to get an error message that MySpace had taken the feature down temporarily for some-reason-or-other and that I'd have to wait for an unspecified period of time before I could use it. LE SIGH. So much for trying to pretty up my profile like mia_noire suggested to me. I guess I should just work on my YouTube profile instead.
In the meantime, I'm also going to continue working on a friend's commission and on a piece of original art featuring the two main characters from my NaNoWriMo2008 novel Daemonsong. I'd originally intended it as a quick painting piece, but as soon as I got to Kira's fur I was like pfffffft that is so not going to work. So I'm taking my time on it.
he promises to you, no more tears to cry
*Can also be summarized as: "Oh, God, respecting each other's humanity is such a pain in the ass! Do we really have to do this forever? Can't you all just lighten up so that I don't have to respect you any more? Isn't the whole point of coming together as one that I don't have to care what you think?" (Thank you, Jay Smooth.)
Ong Bak was first into the ring. Prior to this, I'd seen Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong (known as The Protector in the US, which I really liked) and Spirited Killer (which I, uh, didn't), so I had some idea of what to expect in terms of fighting style. Ong Bak is a good introduction to Jaa, but it may not be for those who get squicked by film violence real easily, because Ong Bak is far bloodier than either Spirited Killer or Tom Yum Goong. I'm mostly inured to that stuff by now, and even I cringed at some of the scenes. The film's been described as an unabashed "look what I can do!" demonstration, but seriously, when you can pull off all the crazy shit that Jaa can, why wouldn't you want to show that off?
In the movie, Jaa's character, Ting, is a devout young man from a tiny village in Thailand whose most precious possession is a statue of the Buddha called "Ong Bak". One day, the head gets stolen by a low-level mafia thug, and Ting vows to get the head back even if it costs him his life. With only the donations from the villagers and his own determination to live on, Ting travels to urban Bangkok to hunt down the perpetrator, eventually getting entangled with an elderly mob kingpin who speaks through an electrolarynx but otherwise is a pretty boring character. This is a remarkably similar plot to the later film Tom Yum Goong, so it's no wonder that TYG was sometimes mistakenly referred to as Ong Bak 2. It's a pretty straightforward plot, so all you have to do is just sit back and watch Jaa kick ass and take names. Interestingly, though, my favorite action sequence from the film isn't any of the actual combat scenes against the big baddies like the obnoxious Australian(?) guy and the Japanese guy in a schoolboy uniform with the quasi-Spike Spiegal hair, but instead a chase scene through the alley markets (is that what they are?) of Bangkok, when he and another character Humlae (played by Thai comedian Mum Jokmok, who also appears in a comedic sidekick role in The Protector) are being pursued by a gang of thugs that they pissed off. I guess it's because it injected some humor into a deathly serious movie with a ridiculous plotline? That's fairly early on in the movie, though, and it only gets darker from there, although the ending is relatively "happy."
Kill Zone (originally titled SPL) is even worse in terms of the graphic nature of the violence. In particular, the various death scenes involving the character played by Wu Jing (who is kind of a little bit awesome in his white-clad knife-wielding crazy assassin role) were pretty much the most expensive meal you could get on the Menu of Death: a Whopper-sized Knuckle Sandwich with a side of Supersized Pain and a Big Gulp of Agony. I'm hungry, I haven't eaten breakfast or lunch. I think it all served the plot well, though. I'm not sure what I would peg as my favorite action sequence - maybe the fight between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing? And certainly the smackdown between Yen and Sammo Hung is a thing of Much Awesome.
The movie is, at first glance, a standard cops versus the mafia kind of story, but there's a lot of nuances involved in the portraiture of the characters and the climax and resolution of the storyline that make it stand out to me. (Not that I've necessarily viewed a lot of cops vs. mafia movies, never mind movies in general...) I found myself developing empathy with both sides of the law here (barring Wu Jing's assassin - he had no development at all, but I liked him anyway 'cause he was crazy style like damn), and I think that Kill Zone, outside of being a really badass-looking flick starring a showdown between two of the world's greatest martial arts legends, is also a good study in how to potentially handle nuanced characters. Which is a pretty mean feat, considering that a lot of martial arts flicks, even some of my favorites, aren't exactly huge on either coherent, deep stories or 3-dimensional characters. So Kill Zone is definitely up there with one of my favorite martial arts flicks of all time, with a pretty damn good drama to boot. (Spoiler: Too bad nearly everyone dies in the end. The last scene is pretty depressing, although because I'd read some spoilers a while back, I knew that it was intended to symbolize Simon Yam's character finally dying from the brain tumor he was diagnosed with three years ago. But the movie doesn't really remind you of that fact throughout, so by the time you get to this scene you may have forgotten about it.)
At some point last week, I also watched Invisible Target, which is yet another "cops versus the bad guys!" flick, although this time the cops - played by Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, and Jaycee Chan - are chasing after a mercenary group that's wreaking havoc in Hong Kong. Crazy-ass Wu Jing returns as the leader of the mercenaries. Jaycee Chan's father Jackie Chan makes a small cameo near the beginning of the film, as a guard for an armored truck that's being looted by the mercenaries. (He gets shot ded, lulz. It's one of those "blink and you'll miss it moments".)
Invisible Target, similar to Kill Zone, also makes attempts at drawing out nuanced characters and a deeper storyline, but for some reason it didn't resonate with me as strongly as Kill Zone's did. The heroes are all pretty distinct in terms of their backstory and personality: Tse's a rather impulsive officer who lost his fiancee to the mercs (she was collateral damage in their rampage), Yue's an effective but arrogant detective who seriously got served by the mercs' leader early on in the film, and Chan's an earnest and idealistic beat cop whose older brother (an undercover cop) may have gotten inextricably entangled with the mercs. All of them are generally likeable.
On the other hand, the mercs' portrait is a bit more...muddled. They were apparently all orphans raised together in a...military...training...camp...thing? And they hate all cops because of...something-or-other that I'm not even sure the movie knows what it is. THEY JUST HATE ALL COPS, OKAY. AND THEY BE TIGHT WITH EACH OTHER, YO, THEY BE TIGHT. LIKE LEATHER PANTS ON A WELL-CHISELED ASS. Probably the only interesting thing about the mercs (besides the intimidating presence of Wu Jing, who once again doesn't get much development - although it's certainly more than what he got in Kill Zone) is that we actually get a female merc (no development, but she can kick some ass well enough) and we get a merc who seems to have some sort of conscience and is probably the most well-characterized of the mercenaries...for a certain value of the term "well-characterized". (Spoiler: When Chan and this guy finally get to talk, Chan makes the comment to him that "you act like my brother, but you don't look like him". It turns out this guy was responsible for killing Chan's older brother. Echoes of BMJ, anyone?)
All in all, despite the narrative deficiencies, Invisible Target is still well worth a watch for martial arts or action junkies, especially for the bar brawl scene where we get to see Jaycee Chan kick some ass with Tse and Yue (although this only happens after a series of events with Chan that pegged my embarrassment squick liekwhoah). Actually, though, my favorite scene in the movie isn't an action sequence at all: it's a conversation early on between Chan's character and his grandmother, where Chan is describing what his day was like.
Wai King Ho: So, I kissed someone today.
Grandmother: (serenely filling out a sudoku sheet) That's nice. Bring her over for dinner.
Wai King Ho: It was a guy.
Grandmother: Guys have to eat too.
Chan was referring to the fact that he had to give a homeless guy CPR.
Invisible Target also taught me that you can throw a bottle of booze at a lightbulb and break it, and the resulting sparks mixed with the alcohol will cause a nice kaboom! Awesome. [/tongue-in-cheek]
Meanwhile, I found out a while back that Jeeja Yanin (Chocolate) is set to star in another movie, currently called Raging Phoenix (original Thai title Du Suay Doo, meaning "stubborn, beautiful, and fierce"). It's apparently going to revolve around a romantic storyline, and hip-hop elements and moves will be incorporated into the movie somehow. Me, I'm just glad that Jeeja no longer has that fugly haircut from Chocolate. She's a cute girl, but her costumes from that movie were just so damn ugly. Look, she might've been playing an autistic girl, but autistic girls deserve to dress cute too! *eyes her younger sister's closet full of bright cheery outfits* I know some people weren't impressed with Chocolate and they're not overly impressed with what they're hearing about Raging Phoenix, but any movie that stars a gal who can pull off this pose in those shoes has to be worth watching.
I changed the color scheme of my LJ layout to something green, in honor of what's going on with Iran right now. I'm not informed enough or smart enough to write anything particularly insightful about this, but I can link y'all to some pages that I personally found well worth reading, for various reasons.
one_hoopy_frood talks about ways to help out and provides other helpful links. ciderpress on Dreamwidth has a pretty short entry on the entire thing, but I'm gonna quote these two lines from it here for Big Fucking Truth:
There are mass protests, students, adults, young and old, and the heavy cost of a revolution, one that has never been required of me to live this good life I have, is being paid. I'm not sure were I asked whether I would be able to pay it.
yasaman briefly argues why the absolute worst thing for the US to do right now is to get involved.
Here's a post on a forum compiling several confirmed happenings in Iran, based on tweets.
And someone - I can't remember who it was, but I saw the entry on my flist somewhere - was talking about the implications of Iranians using Twitter and other social networking services to fight this out and to get the news out about what was happening in their country. As if we didn't already know that we had entered a new information age, this just clinches it, and it's amazing that something so seemingly innocuous and insipid like Twitter could be used in such a world-changing way. It's really mind-boggling.
Also, appropriate icon is actually kind of appropriate. I originally made it from a joke or something during LJ Strikethrough, I think, but honestly, it's better fitting for the people over in Iran right now.
regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all
Despite having a shitload of music that I still haven't listened to even once, I've been returning rather frequently to Vienna Teng's Inland Territory. It's basically the musical equivalent of comfort food for me at the moment, and healthy comfort food for me, at that. I'm still floored at how rich and full the songs are, and how, despite the title Inland Territory, it's actually the least introspective of Vienna's albums so far. No...that's a misleading description; if you looked up "introspective" in the dictionary you'd find Vienna's picture. What I mean to say is, when you compare the subjects and the handling of those subjects in IT songs versus her earlier songs, there's a stronger tendency in the IT songs to reach out beyond personal, interior experiences. Or rather, the IT songs are remarkable for this fusion of the external world of events that may or may not be beyond our control, with the internal world of emotions and thoughts. It's a skillful, refreshing blending of themes into an audiophiliac frappuccino.
One thing I didn't consciously notice about the album until someone mentioned it on the VT forums: it's framed by two songs that both have what can be referred to as "instrumental choruses". It's especially spine-tingling on St. Stephen's Cross. (Incidentally, both were songs that needed to grow on me for a while before I came to love them, in their own way.)
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Carlton has debuted two new songs, "Fair-Weather Friends" and "London". Unfortunately, the quality is so bad on these recordings that you can't understand what she's singing, but melodically it sounds like stuff that would fit in with Heroes and Thieves. According to Wiccapedes, she's apparently almost halfway done with the album and will release it later this year, holy shit.
My liking for Vanessa Carlton's music is mildly perplexing to me. She's not necessarily an excellent vocalist - I wouldn't care to hear her a cappella - but it's such a distinctive voice and it fits her songs. Similarly, I get bored real easily playing her piano arrangements because they're so simple, yet I haven't really figured out a good way to transform those arrangements into something more complex (and thus more interesting) for me to perform as a cover. And her lyrics didn't really become compelling to me until Heroes and Thieves, but they've always had a certain je ne sais quoi about them that was uniquely VC.
At any rate, I look forward to VC's new album.
With their latest release, the single "Gekkou no Chigiri", it seems like YT is moving towards a more pop sound, though they still retain their distinctive gothic, neo-classical, and electronica elements. I was actually underwhelmed by the three songs on "Gekkou no Chigiri", but then again I was also underwhelmed by the songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai" and now I actually really like the songs for the most part. In particular, I keep on coming back to "Alte Burg" for some reason. I think I'm fascinated by the chord progressions and the melodic structure, the auditory tension pulled tight like a bow in the stanza melodies before being released in a graceful arc into more musically familiar territory for the chorus. They've done this on other songs as well (including other songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai"), but for some reason the pattern really caught me in "Alte Burg". I'm not entirely sure that it's an effect of this song being necessarily better than their other songs; it may be that I was listening to the song at the right time and in the right mood.
You can sample her music on her MySpace; her Wikipedia page is here.
I first heard about her through the Angry Asian Man. Charice Pempengco is a young Filipina singer who placed third in a Filipino talent show called Little Big Star, loosely patterned after American Idol. However, she only gained worldwide recognition after an avid supporter named "FalseVoice" started posting videos of her performance on YouTube, garnering millions of hits. Through a series of fortunate events, she eventually landed a performance spot on Oprah, which led to her being signed by music producer David Foster. She is supposed to have a US debut album sometime soon, though I'm not entirely sure how soon.
Charice really has an impressive set of pipes, but she seriously needs to learn how to control that voice. She's cited Celine Dion and Mariah Carey as influences, and boy does it show - and not always in a good way. I think it's great that she has such a good range, but I honestly despise it when singers "oversing" their melodies (see also: Christina Aguilera). It seems so unnecessary most of the time. I prefer her softer vocals in "Smile" and "Maalaala Mo Kaya". But hey, what do I know? I think that, with this style of vocals, she may actually have a chance to break into the American mainstream, somewhat. She's already got two albums released in the Philippines, and a single here in the U.S.
So cheesy! So retro! Yet so gloriously awesome and epic! I wanna write my own Dragonforce-esque song. Not that it would be hard, technically, but still.
I have some book discussion I want to do (namely, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd and Tekgrrl by A.J. Menden - neither of which I was impressed by), but it may take some time for me to formulate coherent reviews about them, so I'll leave y'all with a long-overdue link-o-llection instead.
Jeff Yang: What Does It Mean to be Asian-American?
Four decades later [after the late Ronald Takaki taught the first-ever Black Studies course at UCLA], however, it's worth considering how far the idea of Asian America has come, and how far it can go. Does Asian American identity still have meaning? Have prevailing attitudes towards race evolved to a point where the term "Asian American" limits us rather than lifting us up? Has the moment passed?
Truth be told, the current picture isn't pretty. Many prominent Asian American institutions, particularly those associated with arts, culture and media, have either shut down or are in danger of doing so. Some of this is due to the larger economic crisis, but if pressed, many of the former leaders of these organizations will quietly admit that the core issue they face is simple: Audiences and subscribers for their work have been dwindling, and without collective support from within the community, it's been an uphill battle getting support from outside of it.
On the political front, the vibrant grassroots movement of the '60s and '70s never produced a broad-based pan-Asian American advocacy organization along the lines of the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza. While reinvented old-guard institutions like the Asian American Justice Center (formerly the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium) and exciting new-school entities like Asian Pacific Americans for Progress offer hope, the history of Asian American activism over the past few decades is largely a mosaic of short-term coalitions that were built with a single issue in mind and vanished after that issue no longer seemed pressing.
And those issues are rare these days. It's hard to point to a critical political event that has galvanized pan-Asian communities since 1982, the fight for justice for Vincent Chin, the Chinese American murdered by laid-off Detroit autoworkers for being "Japanese." (Some might suggest the protests against the Broadway musical "Miss Saigon" fit that bill. Even so, those took place in 1991 -- nearly two decades ago.)
All of these factors point to the uncomfortable truth that bringing together Asian Americans has often seemed like herding cats, if those cats were randomly mixed in with, say, dogs, sheep and giraffes -- a metaphor that reflects the staggering diversity of our community, which incorporates dozens of nationalities, each with multiple linguistic, religious and ethnic subsets, and a varying historical record of immigration to the U.S.
Yes, the challenges are enormous. And yet, the stakes are high. Those who seek to suppress racial discourse have gravitated toward Asian Americans as the weakest link in the multicultural chain. They suggest that the successes some Asian Americans have achieved mean we no longer need the protection of a racial category; they point to the difficulties we've faced in organizing as evidence the category never should have existed in the first place.
Ray Fisman @ Slate: Want more women to study science? Hire more female professors.
The researchers also found that the influence of professor gender was even starker for the set of students who were math whizzes when they entered the Academy (those with math SAT scores above 700). For these students, a female instructor eliminated the gender GPA gap entirely—and solely because high-performing women did well in their classes rather than because high-ability men underperformed.
What's more, having a male instructor didn't just affect female cadets' performance in their first-year classes—ramifications could be seen throughout their undergraduate careers. Not surprisingly, students who did well in their introductory science classes were more likely to go on to obtain science degrees (and presumably go on to science-related professions). Among high-math-SAT students—those most likely to be the ones to go on to obtain science degrees—the authors calculate that having a women-only roster of faculty would create gender parity among science majors.
What is it about a woman instructor that is so important for female pupils? It's unlikely to be simply the sense of empowerment of seeing that women can in fact make it in science. If that were the case, then having all female professors should help their female students catch up to the men and having all male professors should cause the male-female performance gap to widen. Yet the authors found that, while female students perform better on average in classes taught by female professors, there are some male professors under whom there's no achievement gap between male and female students (and also some female professors for whom the gender gap is as big as that of some of their male colleagues). So some men are very good at mentoring women, just not nearly enough of them.
John Scalzi: The New York Times: We May Slide into Irrelevancy But At Least We Update Daily
The thing about this Times piece is that it feels almost endearing anachronistic; not to run down blogs, but they’re not exactly the hot new kid on the block these days, are they. These days it seems like the only people starting new blogs are laid-off journalists, which says something both about blogs and these journalists. Everyone else has moved on to Facebook and Twitter. Which is something I personally applaud; I like my blog, but I’m a wordy bastard, by profession and by inclination, and online social networks actually do a far better job of what people wanted blogs to do, which is be a way to act and feel connected online with friends and family. No one gives a crap if your tweet or status update is short and utterly inconsequential (”Hey! I just ate a hot dog!”) — indeed, that’s kind of the point.
nonfluffypagans has a post discussing the idea of pagan community centers. It touches on a number of issues that PCCs face, including money, interpersonal politics, and the lack of support from the broader community.
I want this corset like burning.
Iraqi teen cracks 300-year-old math puzzle.
Tokyopop recently raised the prices on its individual manga volumes, but it looks like readers are actually getting less for their money.
And then finally, an article from The Onion that is sure to be a classic: Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!
fire's getting closer but I've got to stay calm
Visit foc_u for more details.
In light of the most recent instance of RaceFail in fandom (now called MammothFail to distinguish it from RaceFail '09, which happened earlier this year), I thought I should, at least, step up and say that, o hai, i r fan of color.
However...I am also a Clueless Fan of Color.
I have lived a life in which my numerous other privileges - class and education being the most obvious ones, but there are probably others that I'm not aware of - have allowed me to live a fairly colorblind existence up until recently. It wasn't that I never thought of myself as not being Filipino-American; it's that I never, never experienced something that made me attach negative connotations to that identity, and in fact I view it primarily as a badge of pride, as a mark of ~*~specialness~*~ (sometimes to the point of exoticness, I fear). There's a lot of layers of colored sand that's being shifted around here in my experience of racial identity as a second-gen Filipino-American, but I don't have the words or energy (...or courage) to put them out there for others to read just yet. But in short, I have never consciously experienced anything (yet) that made me hate being different. Being Other.
But I know that many, many other fen of color don't have that same privilege. So this short entry, this posting of a shiny banner and a link to a helpful community, is for those fen who are being silenced, who are being made to fade into the background, who are being ignored.
In more mundane news, I have been sick since Friday and it doesn't look like things are getting better. Mommykins wants me to stay home tomorrow if my fever gets any worse (it was hovering around 100*F for the past few days, then I took it today and I was at, like 101.4*F or something).
what would you go wild for?
"Words only have as much power as you give them."
Can I please see this claim die in a Mystic Cage, too?
Linguistically, yes, this is true. Words are artificial human constructs with arbitrarily assigned meanings (...is that redundant?). The reason that certain words are "bad" or "forbidden" are because humans imposed some sort of negative cultural connotation on those words.
Socially, however, this claim doesn't hold up in the same way, for a number of reasons. If individuals decide, on their own, to make this claim a personal mantra that they live by, that's fine. It can be a liberating way of dealing with life.
But. An offender should never say this to someone they've offended. Because if they do, then it merely becomes an excuse for the offender's bad behavior. It's one of the most passive-aggressive ways of saying "you're just too sensitive (so get a thicker skin and put up with it, you weakling)", and thus is another way of just blaming the victim for their own misfortunes.
Relatedly, being asked not to use a certain word that is commonly accepted as being offensive in someone's presence is not "censorship", you fucking failbag of failscum. It's called "basic human decency". Learn it. No, I don't care that you're [insert member of oppressed group here] too and the word doesn't offend you. Your experience =/= everyone else's. How fucking hard is that to understand?
Aaaand I actually had a huge semi-academic screed written up here about the history and nature of insults and swears and how they tie into each other, but it's getting late and the post isn't saying what I want it to say, so it's staying offline until I can edit it into something understandable and readable. Until then, I have to sleep because I have another Borders performance tomorrow - my last one for the next two months. Lauren and Melissa are tagging along and sleeping over at my house, and lysis_to_kill will be attending the performance, so hopefully I won't be rageyragerage by then.
if you knew it was wrong, why did you do it?
Speaking of anime, I really gotta get caught up on Michiko to Hatchin. It's almost ending soon and I want to be able to write a review thingy of it.
And speaking of "ending soon", the Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro will be doing just that. It's currently on chapter 197 or something, and I'm not sure how many more chapters Matsui's got planned. It would be clean and neat if he ended it at 200, but given the events of 197, that would make things seem a little rushed. (Though it's not like no mangaka has ever done a rushed ending before.)
Finished reading Naomi. Brief thoughts: I wanted to smack Joji, I felt bad for Hamada, and Naomi was a hell of a piece of work. The entire story is much more palatable if you read it as an extended allegory of Japan's relationship to the West, instead of as two actual, living characters. I think overall, I prefer Lolita. Let me tell you - as creepy as it is (and it is creepy), Humbert Humbert did one thing right in going for them super young, because if you wait too long, then they apparently turn out like Naomi. Lord and Lady on a pair of skiis...
I'm going to tackle Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto next. Er, well, maybe I should start reading some of the library books I have first. Decisions, decisions.
In honor of Mario Day on March 10 (because March 10 = Mar10 = Mario, hur hur), someone made SMB-themed cookies.
While we're on the topic on themed food, apparently a restaurant in D.C. is now offering Obama-shaped sushi. Er...phwee?
I present to you the best cosplay photo ever. ("THIS WAS NO ORDINARY
Miley Cyrus and Kanye West got snubbed by Radiohead. I love Miley's claim that she's going to "ruin" Radiohead. Yeah, I'd like to see her try! (For the lulz.)
OMG YES, I WANT THE TWILIGHT DVD JUST FOR THIS: Twilight movie commentary with the director Catherine Hardwicke and stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison. BRB LOLING TOO HARD.
Gonna end this link-o-llection with a couple of SRS BSNS links...
This article takes a deep look at the status of the female sexual submissive in the BDSM community and in greater society, and how it connects to feminist issues regarding informed choice. (It also happens to be written by a woman who identifies as a feminist and as a female sexual submissive.) mia_noire, I don't believe you're into BDSM (and if you are, make sure you play safe and sane, aight? :D!), but I believe this article is relevant to your interests anyway with regards to the parts on female images of sexuality in society.
These two articles discuss the issue of being sexy as a Muslim woman.
The Japan Times Online has a rather grim article on the future of the anime industry. Here's a blog commentary on that article.
Gospel of the Shadow is up on YouTube now. I also have vids for "Almost" and "Sphinx" recorded, but, uh, I think I might want to re-record them.
I never wanna act my age, what's my age again?
I took the Myers-Briggs for a high school leadership conference something-or-other and I was classed as an INTJ. It describes me rather well for the most part, although I think my personality bleeds over into INTP territory as well.
I actually still have the booklet from that leadership conference that summarizes the different personality types, so here's what it says about INTJs and INTPs.
Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance - for themselves and others.
Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.
I realize I've been slacking on the link-o-llections lately, but I hope this latest edition makes up for it!
Kit Whitfield has two interesting blog posts up about fictional villains: one on how she personally conceives of a villain/antagonist and one on various categories of fictional villainy. Writers on the flist, hop on over!
vyctori sent me this one a while back - the 10 Most Insane Child-Warping Moments of '80s cartoons.
XKCD exposes the truth of Amazon's Kindle 2!
The blog of a Las Vegas escort girl who actually does not hate her lifestyle! Obviously NSFW.
wadewilson presents "an instructional discourse on how best to avoid being petty, divisive and annoying to other people when enjoying an online role-playing game of any sort. For I have grown tired and weary of seeing people I like behave like unpleasant high-schoolers, and I am also weary of trying to stop foolish misconceptions from growing into utterly inane enmities".
Got some time to kill? Have some free sci-fi short stories.
This has to be one of the most amazing things from nature I've ever seen lately - a fish with a transparent head with eyes that rotate around inside the head. Holy shit, that is so cooooool!
eyecatching_art brings us the Stooge Lanterns. I would totally watch this show!
Finally, you don't Twitter about ongoing secret negotiations while they're in progress. You just don't.
( Talking about music I've been listening to lately: Memoira (gothic symphonic rock), Karl Sanders (ambient rock with heavy Egyptian influences), Versailles (visual kei) )
( Talking about music I've been working on: Like the Dew on the Leaves, Gospel of the Shadow of Nobody, Regretfully Yours/No Longer Yours Truly (Written Letter #2) )
HON301 paper due date got moved to next Tuesday! Rawk.
no creation without destruction, no destruction without creation
Metropolitan Police have arrested a 29-year-old man for threatening to blow up Japanese game maker Hudson. The suspect, Takao Ike of Kanagawa Prefecture, was apparently dissatisfied with the quality of Hudson's games.
From October 2008 to January 16 of this year, the suspect threatened Hudson 11 times, sending emails that said things like he was sending a bomb to the company that would kill everyone or demanding that 80 trillion yen be brought to JR Takamatsu Station.
JR Takamatsu Station is in Kanagawa Prefecture. The suspect worked part-time as a courier.
In a signed affidavit, the suspect admitted, "I did it because I posted my demands concerning the games, but the games didn't improve."
This is seriously too perfect to be real. I have to admit, I'm torn between "Protesting: URE DOIN IT RONG" and "Yeah, YOU GIVE THOSE LAZY SONS-OF-BITCHES AT HUDSON THE WHAT FOR!"
(Thanks to blackryuomega4 for bringing this to my attention!)
In other (less amusing) news, there's been some changes to the whitewashed casting of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie! Dev Patel is slated to star as Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation. Okay, so, great, we've got an Actor of Color...but he has to play the villain? When all of the heroes are white and the "ethnics" are only okay to show on-screen as background scenery? No. Just no. You fail at multiculturalism, Hollywood. I suppose it's just coincidence that Mr. Patel had the lead role on a little film called Slumdog Millionaire, right?
Also, Jessica Jade Andres (who?) is, according to this article, supposed to play "the Earth Kingdom's representative, Suki." Say what? She's going to play this chick?! (Also, what's up with that "Earth Kingdom's representative" deal? Kyoshi Island is considered Earth Kingdom, yes, but they didn't really have much connection to the big Earth Kingdom powerhouses of Omashu and Ba Sing Se.) (Also also, that article states that Shyamalan is planning a three-movie story arc. Oh my Gods, I weep to think of how he's going to end up butchering Toph's character. OH M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN NOOOOOOO) Just...ARGH.
Anyone who comes up to me and goes "Geez, there's just no pleasing you people, is there?" is going to get hexed nine times to Hades and back. Seriously, is it too much to ask for some fair - note the qualifier! - representation of people who look like me in popular media in this supposedly enlightened age that elected a black man to the office POTUS? It's not an issue of "political correctness" (STABBITY STAB I HATE THAT TERM, IT NEEDS TO DIE IN A FIRE AND THEN BE FROZEN IN ETERNITY IN JUDECCA) - it's an issue of respecting the diversity present in the world, and in the United States in particular since that's where this fuckover is happening.
I want everything back but you