Farewell to Wes Craven who has Made the Most Beautiful Nightmares

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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:

Would You Marry a Robot?

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A friend posted on Facebook a Slate article about marrying a robot that stirred my imagination. Will marrying a robot be possible in the future? Even if it were legal, would you marry a robot?

Some lame ass people said that if we opened up marriage to gays, we would go down the slippery road and we might as well open up marriage to robots and polygamists. First, let’s face it–marriage is a human cultural institution however way we define it. Yes, polygamists can get married in some cultures. Yes, some cultures allow people to marry 12-year-olds or younger…

But really… marriage is for humans. And what defines a human?

“Fair is Foul, and foul is fair” at the Chinese Box Office

BALLER

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Just after this weekend, my friend Raman Hui’s debut feature Monster Hunt has become the top grossing Chinese film in China, grossing over 1,277 million RMB (approximately over USD$206 million) and beating the previous box office record set by Lost in Thailand. Ironically, the same movie opened to number 4 with a tepid 3.41 million HKD (approximately USD$43,991) compared to Minions, Ant-man and Terminator Genisys that all opened above Monster Hunt with respective grosses of 24.7 million HKD (approximately USD$318,644), 17.4 million HKD (approximately USD$224,470) and 3.58 million HKD) approximately USD$461,840).

From L.A. to Beijing to Paris with Love; or the Birth of My First Chinese Movie

36 snails can be hard to stomach for a spiritual vegan on his first evening in Paris

36 snails can be hard to stomach for a spiritual vegan on his first evening in Paris

It was 5:55 am. Jetlagged and recovering from a full day of diarrhea (my stomach finally broke down from all the food I’d been eating in China), I was lying awake in my hotel room in Paris. As I was struggling to get more sleep for the full day of meetings ahead with my line producer, casting director and costume designer, I began ruminating about the very first moment that began the adventure to make my first Chinese movie, Morning, Paris!. Has it been all worth it?

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Pulling out my iPhone, I scrolled back to the first picture from Shanghai Fashion Week that I posted on my WeChat on April 14, 2013 at 6:10 am. I was probably jetlagged then too. That trip was my first significant trip to China as an adult. Earlier that year, I serendipitously met a young gay activist, J, in Los Angeles while I was invited to speak a workshop for a Chinese gay activist conference. I fell in love with him.

Let’s Get Married Now!

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While I am in China, my Facebook has been plastered with news about Supreme Court having ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide in the good old US of A. So let’s get married! Only if I had a partner…

As Canadians, we are proud to have had gay marriage rights since 2005, exactly 10 years ahead of the U.S.A. Having seen gay marriage achieved in Canada, I had no doubt that national gay marriage would eventually pass in the U.S. It was just a matter of time. I guesstimated 10 years, and it was exactly that.

We Chinese Know Better… Getting Married is Not as Peachy as It Sounds?

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After going to an event, sponsored by China’s giant Taobao, where the LA Gay Center invited ten LGBT couples who won a contest from China to get married in LA and threw a reception for them, I received an enigmatic message on a photo that I posted on my Facebook from a friend of a friend, who’s Chinese. gay and volunteers at the LA Gay Center, saying something like, “This is just for show. That’s why we real Chinese didn’t show up… because we know better. (A Tearful Emoticon).” This comment was up for an hour, and the author erased it.

For an event that was so highly publicized, I was surprised that when I showed up there were mostly friends I know and the turn out was low. In fact, my friend’s publicity agency, China Luxury Advisors, was the behind the promotion of it and invited me to attend the reception on Facebook. There were six couples instead of ten, as I was told that four from the Guangzhou area had problems getting visas from the American Consulate. The reception served two-buck Chucks and Costco meat-and-cheese plates and crackers.

Around the Horn: Your First Scary Movie

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What’s the first scary movie you’ve seen or the first scary movie that scared you shitless? I have to say it’s THE MANITOU in 1978, the first horror film I saw in a theater as a kid. I was so scared that I ran out of the theater with my friend halfway through. The film starred Tony Curtis as a psychic whose girlfriend was being possessed by an evil Indian spirit that grew from a tumor on her neck to a full size demon. I finished the movie later on video on VHS as a teenager.

Going Vegan in Japantown

A bottle of Dassai 50 sake.

A bottle of Dassai 50 sake.

One night, my friend and I were downtown in the historic Little Tokyo Marketplace that is now Korean owned. We were going to an Izakaya there but the wait was simply too long… so we decided to try Shojin instead, a Japanese vegan haut cuisine restaurant.

I’ve often enjoyed vegan cuisine even though I’m an omnivore. The atmosphere was decidedly pleasant and tranquil as we entered the dining area… and there was a nice crowd on a Friday evening.

First we ordered a bottle of Dassai sake to wind down our week paired with our appetizers:

The Case Against the Slants

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I was on Facebook and caught Simon Tam, the founder of the Asian dance rock band The Slants, posting about how their band was just denied a trademark because the US Trademark Office deemed the name of their band to be offensive (check out Simon’s previous guest blog about this issue here). I reposted Simon’s article and it sparked a spirited debate between Crane, my attorney friend, and Simon himself. Below is the exchange:

• Crane Stephen Landis: Because offensive is offensive even if it comes from someone in the group who would be offended.

• Crane Stephen Landis: The Washington DC “Redskins” is offensive even if it were owned by a Native American. That’s why the US Trademark Office revoked their trademark.

The Asian Dildo Terrorist

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I just read this hilarious article about an obviously Asian man having fun with a gigantic dildo on the New York subway last weekend on Animal and Death and Taxes.

According to Animal, “An older man of indeterminate ethnic origin [probably East Asian?] boarded the train at Atlantic Avenue; the man seemed ‘fucked up on some kind of drug,’ loose-limbed and sloppy. Some young men sitting next to him began making fun of him. One of the dudes took out his phone to snap a selfie with the older guy. At that point, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a massive dildo. The young guys and other people nearby ran away, laughing.”

TBT: ‘Telegraph’ & Berkeley in the ’90s

A boy, a street vendor’s child on Telegraph Ave.

A boy, a street vendor’s child on Telegraph Ave.

As I was recently doing research into a story set in Berkeley in the 90s, when I went to school, I dug up the very first thing I made, Telegraph, an 80 minute documentary that I shot on the VHS camera my roommate loaned me for a weekend. It was an assignment I shot in lieu of writing a paper to my Documentary Film class at Berkeley during my junior year…. which must have been 1990.

The film was modeled after Walter Ruttman’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City that I saw in that class. Instead of Berlin, I decided to do a similar exercise on the life of a day on the famed Berkeley street, Telegraph Ave. I was able to capture and interview many street and homeless personalities whom I’d bump into on Telegraph Ave. every day en route to school.