Around the Horn: Finding Music

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I’ve worked for years in and around the music industry; I love music, and I get so excited when I hear something new that I connect with. In the past, I would have read a review in a magazine and then would have headed to Tower Records and bought a cassette to play on my Walkman. It was a risk and there were rewards–hearing songs for the first time in a controlled environment allowed me to really listen to music and lyrics and I cherish those personal moments that I had with music.

Today, music discovery is all around us. It’s literally a click away. There’s still a personal journey element for me whether I’m reading blogs I like or talking to friends about what they are listening to or going to a show (an actual live performance of an artist I’ve never seen before!). But there’s more to it now–maybe it’s an algorithm telling me what I’ll like on a streaming service or a commercial I keep seeing (maybe link to that Samsung commercial that’s new?) or a TV show’s soundtrack or a movie trailer or musical guests on late night talk shows.

So how do you find new music? How do you discover new music? Any services/platforms you favor? Why? What’s something new that you want to share?

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?

Around the Horn: #OscarsSoWhite the Sequel

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It’s MLK Day 2016 and while much has changed for the better since Dr. King’s time, there are still constant reminders that we still have a ways to go. Most recently, this came in the form of this year’s Oscar nominations. Following on the heels of last year’s #OscarsSoWhite designation for the lack of nominees of color especially in the major categories, people are calling this year a repeat or a sequel if we want to employ film terms. And with critically-acclaimed works like STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, CREED and BEASTS OF NO NATION being largely ignored, critics might have a point.

So curious to hear what people think of this issue, but more importantly–was there a “non-white” artist or project from 2015 that you thought was deserving of a nom but was ignored? And if you don’t want to limit your response to the world of film, you can also select stand-out work by artists of color in the other creative fields–TV, digital, theater, music, etc…

AROUND THE HORN: Untimely Party Guest

With each day, I try to spot the things in my life that I can do more efficiently to optimize my time. Maybe it’s how I hold my keys as I walk out the door so that it takes less time to lock it. Maybe it’s preparing my protein shake the night before so that I won’t hurry into my CrossFit class without it.

Only last week did I happen to find the latest way I could make my life easier: shoehorns!

Wow, I must have seen those things a billion times before, on the ground at a Nordstrom somewhere, without a single idea what they did. It took some fortuitous poking around my parents’ garage and some measure of curiosity before my pops cleared that weird piece of plastic’s purpose.

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If you don’t know, you slip these ‘shoehorns’ into the back of your shoe and it makes the arduous, first-world problem of actually putting on your shoe into something a little less first-world daunting.

Around the Horn: 2016 Resolutions

LASTLooking ahead to the new year, what are your resolutions for 2016? Or if you don’t make resolutions, what do you hope to see/happen/experience in 2016 whether in your own life or in the world at large?

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PHILIP: On a personal level, there are a couple of ideas for projects I’ve had for the past 20+ years and it looks like 2016 may be the year that those ideas will finally get a chance to potentially be realized. Who knows if they’ll actually happen but at least will get as good a shot as any to make them a reality. It’s too early to talk about what they are publically, but the great part is they are both YOMYOMF projects (one of which we’ve been developing with my fellow Offender DHH which has been exciting).

On a more macro level, the big thing I wish for, even more than peace on earth and an end to global warming, is that Donald Trump not get elected President. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I will gladly take anyone else over Donald Trump. I would rather have the bowel movement I shat out this morning be the next President than Trump. Come on, America, I have faith in you in 2016 to do the right thing.

Around the Horn: What Does Your Christmas Feast Look Like?

Happy Holidays YOMYOMFers!  While it’s a given that there’s a turkey at Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner seems a bit more flexible.  Yes, there’s the line around the block at the Honeybaked ham store that I’ve often stood in, but it seems that there is a wide variety of family traditions or no tradition at all when it comes to Christmas.  When I lived in Japan, I was surprised to find out that KFC chicken is the standard Christmas fare, along with a romantic Christmas cake.  (I believe Phil blogged about this.)  Now that I’ve married into a Chinese family, our Christmas dinner has become Chinese hot pot (though I slightly modified this by bringing Shabu Shabu to the table this year.)  Also, we celebrate on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. 

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What does your Christmas feast look like?

Around the Horn: Star Wars Gateway

60966-6-star-wars-opening-day ERIC: Star Wars has begun and the hype surrounding The Force Awakens is simply amazing. My experience with Star Wars is practically life-long, and it’s hard to believe how this franchise has evolved. My story begins with seeing the original Star Wars at a theater in 1977. I remember some advertisements and news spots, but the hype was word of mouth. There was a buzz about it at my elementary school and if you didn’t see it, you were left out. Of course my mind was blown and of course I saw it a second time and I believe a third. Then I remember that Empire Strikes Back began as an early summer movie and it was one of the first things I did when school was out and I went with a friend. It was like an adventure. Since then, the series continued with highs and lows.

Around the Horn: Surprises

Last Thursday, I woke up early, went for a walk, read part of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, got a root canal, checked my e-mail and discovered that the brilliant David Henry Hwang had experienced a far less pleasant day (less pleasant than a 3-hour root canal?  Yes!  It is possible).  

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who would attack this handsome fellow?

For those of you who don’t know the story, David was on his way home from the market, chillin’ and minding his own business, when someone approached from behind and stabbed him in the neck.  It was a big relief to hear that he made it to a hospital in time and is now at home recovering.  I hope he does not mind me mentioning that before walking himself to the hospital (all the while losing blood), he stopped off at home first to drop off his groceries.  Egads!  

Around The Horn: Family style eats

Chun restaurant courtesy of Jinlovestoeat.com

Chun restaurant courtesy of Jinlovestoeat.com

In Shanghai -Huangpu area/French concession there’s Chun – a tiny hole in the wall on Jianxian lu that fits about four small tables and a kitchen.  Despite its modest decor, it’s not street food cheap – about 250-320 RMB for two people.  But it is always packed and has already been much written up about via local blogs, the Wall Street Journal and Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’.  But despite the notoriety, it is still a no-fuss place for well to do office workers or civil servants who live on their own and crave a home style meal that satisfies without threatening the digestive system.

Ms. Qu of Chun courtesy of WSJ.

Ms. Qu of Chun courtesy of WSJ.

Around The Horn: Seriously, Where Are You From?

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Refugees in the news a lot this week. Also, I had my once-yearly encounter with a guy in a bar who was surprised that I speak English (these are about as regular as a doctor’s check-up, some years there’s a flare-up).

The ritual of being quizzed by idiots on “where are you really from” is well-known to people of color, particularly Asian-Americans. It’s not the question itself that is “offensive”: “Where are you from” is one of my favorite conversation starters, as long as it is not a) on a dark street in Los Angeles or b) said with the usual implication of “I know you’re foreign, I bet you’re some kind of Asian, you clearly aren’t from here, and I have no interest at all in what the answer is because I’ve already made up in my mind that you’re an alien.”

Around the Horn: Student Activism–A New (or the Same Old) Intolerance?

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Across the country, campus activism seems to be on the rise. From the University of Missouri to Yale and beyond, students (and some faculty) are critiquing their institutions as hostile environments for people of color and women. At Yale, allegations of a “white girls only” frat party coincided with the wife of an Administrator criticizing an email asking students to be racially sensitive in their Halloween costume choices. In Missouri, the University’s handling of several racist incidents this fall led to the resignation of its President and Chancellor.

These and similar incidents on campus have also spawned numerous opinion pieces condemning young people today as intolerant, over-sensitive censors who “catastrophize” minor slights and endanger civil liberties by shutting down anyone who disagrees with them. This week, Conor Friedersdorf wrote a piece in THE ATLANTIC entitled, “The New Intolerance of Student Activism,” which joins earlier articles such as Edward Schlosser’s “I’m a Liberal Professor and my Liberal Students Terrify Me.” This school of liberalism essentially argues that kids today are spoiled brats who don’t know how good they’ve got it.

Around the Horn: I Can Do It All by Myself!

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I’ve been in the creative field for most of my career and no matter how much I collaborate with people in the beginning of a project, I always end up in a room with only my computer doing the work. This is the modern way of working. With Skype, email and the cloud we really don’t have to go anywhere. Why bring up a subject we know to be obvious? Because it wasn’t that obvious until I started my new venture with another like minded creative.

What’s true collaboration? Is it coming together and going our separate ways? Is it being in within arms reach with a partner who stays consistently by your side? I guess what was revealed to me was the fact I wasn’t alone in a vacuum. It’s tough working on a project you underbid so you can get the job knowing you can do it all by yourself and then suffering through it without any outside support. Ah… modern technology. It’s easier now to do everything, but should we? Sometimes there’s no choice. But as of now I feel joy in making decisions with another… especially if the work becomes better than what it was when you were on it alone.

What were some of your great collaborations?