Hong Kong in My Heart


It’s been disheartening to hear about the protests and police violence that happened on the night of Chinese New Year Day in Hong Kong. Having grown up in the former colony but currently a city of China, I have conflicting thoughts about the event. Besides worrying about the safety of my mom and two sisters, I was angry at the Hong Kong police who have become bullies to ordinary citizens, hawkers and reporters. At the same time, I could not condone the protesters’ own instigating violence. The protests could have absolutely been peaceful, like the beginning of the Umbrella Movement. Protests could also happen via press and social media, which would be a safer and more effective medium to get international attention.

Adventures in Single Parenthood


I was on the phone yesterday with a friend who has known me since I was 18. When I told him that I was expecting a baby in June, he exclaimed, “No wonder you’ve been posting all those baby CPR videos and asking baby questions on Facebook. I just thought you were…”


Growing up, the thought that in order for me to have a child I would have to marry a woman made me very sad. Now looking back, I realize what I meant was that it would be sad that in order for me to have a child or a family I would have to lead a dishonest life.

Around the Horn: Any Lunar New Year Plans?

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It’s kinda crazy that even NBA wants a piece of the Chinese pie and created this little video:

This year 2016 is the year of the monkey. Chinese New Year will fall on February 8, 2016. Do you have any plans for celebrating? I’m personally not that into Chinese New Year as I’m too old to get red pockets. In China, many take the opportunity to travel… and I generally find Chinese New Year an irkful and unfun holiday where most things are closed and zero business can be done for a week. What are your plans for this Chinese New Year?

Real Fresh Off the Boat: I am going to like it here…

My parents and me on the night of my graduation at Berkeley

My parents and me on the night of my graduation at Berkeley

I have to say when I watched ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and no matter how much I love Randall and the cast… I just didn’t feel that show represented at all the immigrant experience with fake Asian accents and contrived comedy. This is coming from the perspective of a real FOB, namely moi. When I first learned about the term FOB, I would tell people that I was in fact an FOP, Fresh Off the Plane. I didn’t come to America on a boat.

You realize that even the term FOB doesn’t reflect Asian immigration. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the 1961 Asian American classic Flower Drum Song where the protagonist refers to herself as a “wetback” which is more of a derogatory word for illegal Mexican immigrants. I’m sure that “FOB” evolved from the water symbolism of “wetback” bearing little reality to how Asians came to America.

Chinese for Christmas


Chinese restaurants get a boost on Christmas because they don’t close on the holiday. It’s a fact depicted by Bob Clark’s 1982 classic A Christmas Story where the narrator says, “That Christmas would live in our memories as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey.”

So how can you not have some Chinese food for Christmas? Especially for a nostalgic Chinese American like me.

Feeling of Apocalypse


Los Angeles is feeling apocalyptic today as all Los Angeles Unified schools closed because of the “credible threat” of an e-mail terror threat. Particularly for parents and people who are intending to be parents, we are faced with the idea that terrorists are not only not going to spare children, but may even target them. Perhaps that’s why this particular bomb threat is disturbing for people in a first world city like Los Angeles.

A friend wrote on her Facebook, “All LAUSD schools on lockdown today. It’s a fucked up world we live in. Btw, told Mary and she started dancing and singing, ‘Tis the season to be jolly.’ We’ve got a messed up kid.”

In other parts of the world, children are not spared from terrorism. In fact, they are used to it–from carrying bombs to being trained as soldiers.

One Night in Shenzhen

I’ve been discovering Shenzhen, a neighboring city of Hong Kong with a population of over 10 million people, since last year and I decided to spend a day and a night vacationing there. “What? Vacationing in Shenzhen!?” exclaimed my Hong Kong friends.

(A hotel you can rent a room by the hour a block from Luo Hu’s Shangri-La)

(A hotel you can rent a room by the hour a block from Luo Hu’s Shangri-La)

“Yes, I really quite like the city, which is the youngest and most modern city in China,” I said. “And I have a few friends up there.”

My Chinese American friend Gary came up for the day and joined me at the Shangri-la, the first major hotel that opened in Shenzhen literally adjacent to the Luo Hu train station. I spent the day diddling on my laptop by the pool until Gary came and we went out to Coco Park for dinner.

Throwback Thursday: Do You Know Andrew Martinez, the Naked Guy?


Or perhaps I should say, “Did you know Andrew Martinez, the naked guy, who went to Berkeley in the 90s?” I missed him just before he started appearing naked in the Fall of 1992, the year I went to grad school at Yale. However, I was at Berkeley when he was a freshman and bumped into him several times since I returned to the Bay Area after he officially became the naked guy.

He was eventually kicked out of school due to Berkeley’s policy banning public nudity. Later, in the mid 2000s, he suffered mental issues and was eventually placed in custody where he committed suicide.

Revisiting 0506HK with Artist Norm Yip


About a decade ago, I made an autobiographical feature documentary titled 0506HK about my feelings for Hong Kong, formerly the country and now a city of China where I was born and raised until a teenager. This week, I got to revisit my friends featured in my documentary and was pleasantly surprised to find out that artist Norm Yip has been painting more than ever. While pursuing his painting, he has also cut down on the commercial photography work that he was doing.

Halloween in Hong Kong


When I was growing up and started trick-or-treating at age six in the 1970s in Hong Kong, no one knew what Halloween was. Flash forward to four decades later, Halloween has become one of the most popular celebrations like Christmas in this city… and the rest of China. Halloween has really caught up in Asia, woohoo! Thanks to Hallmark!

As I was in Hong Kong, the past Halloween, I decided to throw a Halloween party to reconnect with old friends. Indeed, I saw many cool old souls from friends I met in clubs to filmmaking buddies. Sadly, no kids came to my place to trick-or-treat.

Around the Horn: Parenting Advice

HARVESTThis is probably the most selfish ATH, but I really want to ask all of you, as I’m going through surrogacy and am—what they call—“ an intended parent.” Congrats again to Offender Beverly’s baby girl! As some of you are parents already and others have experience with children or have close family members who are parents, what would be the one advice you’d give to an expecting single parent like me?

Offender Beverly, can I steal a baby picture from you for this ATH? Thanks!

Quentin's request is granted.

Quentin’s request is granted.

PHILIP: I’m not a parent so not sure I’d have any practical or realistic advice. Uh…maybe don’t feed them after midnight, don’t get them wet…wait, think that’s the rules to take care of Gremlins. Maybe make sure he or she learns Mandarin to prepare for a future where we’ll be living under our Chinese overlords? Yeah, I got nothing.

Farewell to Wes Craven who has Made the Most Beautiful Nightmares


I rarely stalk people, but last year I successfully stalked Wes Craven online and found his e-mail address. I e-mailed him and told him how I had been a fan of his work since I was a teenager… and was hoping that he would take a look at a project of mine. He wrote back and asked, “My first question would be, where did you get my e-mail address?”

It’s really sad to see one of my favorite filmmakers gone as I’ve been very much looking forward to his next picture. Come to think of it, all my favorite filmmakers are still alive. Wes Craven is the first one to pass.

Mr. Craven has made classic after classic since his first feature The Last House On the Left in 1972. Below is one of the most memorable moments from the movie: