Kid Koala Nufonia Must Fall Live at UCLA’s Royce Hall

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In our Star Wars generation, robots have risen from being mechanical buffoons like C-3PO who can translate 1000s of languages and solve a calculus problem in an instant to becoming heroic entities akin to gigantic Japanese robots like Mazinger-Z and Gundam. Yet DJ and musician Kid Koala’s take in his graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall portrays a robot as an indie-emotional being.

The story floats on multiple platforms of meanings. Most great graphic novels do, and while robots were created to help, they too become outdated. What happens to them? What happens to the exact machine you’re using now in just a little while? To the E-waste “graveyard” in a South East Asian country? Kid Koala’s robot faces his own mortality ensconced in a love story with one of his adversaries.

Year of the Monkey Art Exhibition

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The Year of the Monkey Exhibition at GR2 is a stunning collection of work by nearly 60 artists. While many thought they needed to be born in the Year of the Monkey, most artists figured out that monkeys are just one of the best animals to depict in art. The specific type of monkey in 2016 is said to be “Fire Monkey” – an aggressive and controlling version. It was depicted in many pieces of art, yet the pieces ranged.

The Year of the… zodiac exhibitions are practically annual, and it’s always one of the most crowded exhibitions throughout the year. f3753bc8-2529-41fc-869e-6959ba382a5b

YOMYOMF Rewatch: The Twilight Zone “The Encounter” (1964)

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TV SERIES: The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) created by Rod Serling
EPISODE: “The Encounter” Season 5, episode 31 (aired May 1, 1964)
DIRECTOR: Robert Butler
WRITER: Martin M. Goldsmith
PLOT SYNOPSIS: A Caucasian World War II veteran and a Japanese American gardener find a samurai sword in the attic which leads to the revelation of dark secrets that both men have been hiding.

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So far for my rewatches, I’ve focused on feature films but today I turn to TV, specifically, Rod Serling’s classic genre anthology series The Twilight Zone. In its fifth and final season, an episode entitled “The Encounter” aired and quickly became the series’ most controversial for its handling of a Japanese American storyline. In fact, this episode never aired again on American television until earlier this month and we’ll go into the reasons why later, but first, the plot:

We open in the attic of what appears to be a typical suburban home. Fenton (Neville Brand) is a middle-aged Caucasian man who is in the midst of cleaning out his old junk. He comes upon a Japanese samurai sword, picks it up and throws it across the room.

YOMYOMF Rewatch: Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

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FILM: Phantom of Chinatown (1940)
DIRECTOR: Phil Rosen
PLOT LOGLINE: Chinese American detective James “Jimmy” Lee Wong investigates the murder of an archaeologist who has returned from an Asian expedition where he unearthed an ancient scroll that contains valuable information that someone is willing to kill for.

NOTE: If you’d like to watch the film first before reading so as to avoid spoilers, the full movie on YouTube is embedded at the bottom of this post.

This film contains a number of “firsts” for Hollywood and I’ll get to those later, but “first”, the plot:

We open at Southern University where archaeologist Dr, John Benton (Charles Miller) has returned from an expedition to China and the Mongolian desert and is giving a lecture about his findings. A magazine article that we catch a glimpse of suggests Benton may have discovered something known as the “Temple of Eternal Fire”. In attendance at the lecture are Benton’s colleagues and three of the people who accompanied Benton on his trip—his cameraman Charlie Frasier (John Dilson), his daughter Louise (Virginia Carpenter) and her fiancé and pilot Tommy (Robert Kellard) as well as University President Dr. Norman Wilkes (Huntley Gordon) and Benton’s Chinese secretary, Win Len (Lotus Wong).

How Bowie Saved The Word “Chameleon”

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In musical circles, the word “chameleon” is a slam. It’s what you say when an artist has lost his or her way, when they are trying to chase trends, to revive stalling careers. And it usually involves some shark jumping.

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Does anybody remember when Vanilla Ice attempted to go heavy metal?

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Katsuya Terada Live Drawing Time Lapse

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Katsuya Terada draws unlike most artists. Instead of being afraid of mistakes, he works with them to a point of no one knowing that they’re happening. From many conversations with the Tokyo manga artist, I’ve learned that the big mistake is the first or second line. When these are executed just right, the rest of the drawing will fall into place. Obviously when wrong, it’s an uphill fight to get the drawing in gear.

Most artists I work with are afraid to draw in front of people. It’s a different mindset to be able to not sketch out an idea first and then work with it. Katsuya Terada draws without a master plan and adds and adds depending on time. In the above time lapse video, he draws and answers questions for two hours. He’s able to turn his mind on and off of drawing which is an amazing feat.

Top 10 Asian American Pop Culture Moments of 2015

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Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I am using some questionable wi-fi at a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City. As for the other year-end lists, I felt 2015 was a significant year for Asian Americans in media. With at least three major TV shows currently on air with Asian leads, as well as some major representation behind the camera too, it was a strong, and one could argue, landmark year for Asian American representation.

There’s definitely a momentum that we Asian Americans are riding into 2016, with Margaret Cho’s weed dispensary workplace comedy that just got greenlit for Amazon Prime, for example. Let’s just hope this momentum is not a fluke and that we will be experiencing real, authentic reflections of the American population today, which means, substantive Asian roles in popular entertainment. So, here are my top 10 Asian American pop culture moments/events across the entertainment spectrum:

Australia Will Now Get its Own ‘Fresh off the Boat’

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Erin Chew is a dreamer. She has shined in the spotlight at her high school plays, always clinching the role as the tree or the pot plant. No matter how much she tried out for the roles of the heroine in Romeo and Juliet, Desdemona in Othello, and vie for the role of Anna in The King and I, she just never made the cut. Seventeen years later, this same girl though much more matured, has used this disappointment to give back to the community. In 2013, Erin co – founded the Asian Australian Alliance (AAA), a grassroots advocacy network with the aim to empower the entire Asian Australian community and raise concerns and projects over common issues. Over the years, AAA has grown to have a women’s forum, young leaders program, and a LGBTIQ network. In 2016, AAA launched a new academics alliance with the purpose of linking academia with social activism. Erin has run many national campaigns which have attracted mainstream media attention. She is also a free-lance writer, focusing on racism, diversity and social activism. Here, Erin reflects on the history of Asian Australian media and the importance of the breakthrough show, The Family Law, which is being hailed as the start of a revolution against stereotyped Australian media.

The cast of the revolutionary new Australian TV show 'The Family Law'

The cast of the revolutionary new Australian TV show ‘The Family Law’

In Australia, it is common to see Asian Australians on television, so really what are we complaining about? Just switch on the TV on any given night and you will find unsuspecting Asians being caught at airport customs for bringing in fresh, unpackaged food from Asia on Border Security, being breath tested on Highway Patrol, or being arrested for a huge drug bust and/or being caught as illegal migrant workers on AFP (Australian Federal Police). And to turn up the notch just a little bit more and highlight our positive roles, we are always in the final ten of every MasterChef Australia series. Of course, we are also portrayed as nasty, gossiping women in My Restaurant Rules, and as backward, traditional people on soapies such as Neighbours, where an Indian Australian brother and sister from the Kapoor family were sent to India after the character Priya Kapoor was portrayed as a conniving seductress and husband stealer. And this is just TV shows. In the area of journalism, unless you watch the government funded ABC and SBS, you will never see Asian Australians as news anchors or weather report readers, and you seldom see any as reporters on the ground.

But these are just the disaster stories, which interestingly enough take up most of the Asian Australian television airtime. Like anything else, it is not all doom and gloom, and there have been small strides in the fight for better diversity in Australia’s media industry. Among the growing number of Asian Australian cooking shows, singing and performing reality television shows, and playing the role of an immigrant, there really has not been a show until now which talks about the lives of Asian Australians, not as a documentary, but in a digestible and light-hearted way.

Anderson’s Top Ten K-Pop Music Videos of 2015

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It’s funny how K-Pop has become so much a part of mainstream pop culture nowadays that it’s pretty ubiquitous. I admit that I don’t listen to as much K-Pop as I used to but I thought this year’s crop of songs were quite good. There’s still that artificial gleam that K-Pop videos are known for with their high production values, cool graphics and catchy dance moves. It’s still as saccharine as you can get, but that’s what makes them so appealing. It shows a maturity of the genre. We’ll see if this will turn into a true cross-over artist in the near future. Everyone is pining their hopes on CL from 2NE1. Only time will tell.

Anderson’s Top 10 Films of 2015

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Yes, I am adding onto the endless top 10 lists that come out during this time of year, but you are going to receive one anyway. In the next few days, I will send out a few more Top 10s in the best TV, K-Pop videos and for the first time, Asian American milestones in entertainment. I have to say that 2015 has been an interesting, if not landmark year for Asian Americans. Granted, we have a long way to go, but at least it feels like an actual movement now.

In the meantime, 2015 has been an interesting year for movies. Indie cinema was particularly vibrant, with more daring work to come out in years. On the other hand, huge Hollywood tentpoles solidified their dominance with what is already been predicting 2015 as the biggest box-office year ever.

A 5-year-old reviews the original STAR WARS

guest_offendersBrian Watanabe is an advertising creative, blogger, screenwriter and Star Wars nerd. His screenplay THE ROGUES GALLERY was turned into the film OPERATION: ENDGAME starring Rob Corddry, Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin and Zach Galifianakis. This blog entry was originally posted on Frolic Hawaii and is posted here with permission. 
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“This is the best night ever!”

The movie hadn’t even started yet, but for my daughter, the night was off to a good start. That was a relief for me because tonight was a big deal.

A Death Star-sized big deal.

Tonight was the first time I was showing my 5-year-old the original, 1977 STAR WARS.

No pressure.

Celebrate the holidays with your own Darth Vader Yule Log


I do find it kind of strange to see a new STAR WARS movie a week before Christmas. I’ve always associated STAR WARS with the early days of summer, Memorial Day weekend to be exact. Here’s the official release dates for the previous episodes:

A NEW HOPE — May 25, 1977
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK — May 17, 1980
RETURN OF THE JEDI — May 25, 1983
THE PHANTOM MENACE — May 19, 1999
ATTACK OF THE CLONES — May 16, 2002
REVENGE OF THE SITH — May 19, 2005

THE FORCE AWAKENS was originally supposed to be released in May, but was pushed back after a slight delay in the start of production. As far as it’s been reported, Episodes VIII and IX are slated for May releases.