My Asian American Soundtrack

“Some parts of America are still very racist,” said Daniel Park, the filmmaker and social media chief for Far East Movement over a Soon Dubu meal in Koreatown. “We got posts about how some people said they really liked Far East’s music but as soon as they found out that they were Asian they weren’t interested. When you listen to Far East Movement’s music, you really can’t tell they’re Asian. But then it became a different matter when some people found out they were Asian…”

Daniel’s comment stuck in my mind right before I started making White Frog (premiering this week at the SF International Asian American Film Fest). And that comment made me even more psyched and excited to continue my unofficial Asian American soundtrack project that I started on The People I’ve Slept With. With White Frog, I was proudly and fully able to put the entire soundtrack of diverse genres and sounds from Christian rock to hip hop with entirely Asian American artists.

When the script called for a dance sequence, I immediately thought of MC Jin who is the pioneering Asian American talent in hip hop. During preproduction, I asked my music supervisor cum assistant Kevyn Fong to call up Asian American guru Carl Choi and secure a track from MC Jin that we would choreograph a dance piece to. We picked MC Jin’s “Brand New Day” and that became the centerpiece of the soundtrack.

If we had an Asian American hip-hop song, we also had to have an Asian American choreographer. I was following L.A. choreographer Kyle Hanagami on Youtube and thought he would be the perfect candidate. In fact, I thought wouldn’t it be nice if he also danced in it? So I Facebooked Hangami and was on-board.

In preproduction, Kevyn and I went on the hunt for Asian American pop tracks, and he found Gowe whom I thought was incredibly amazing sounding—a mix of rap and electronic pop. So we got “Star in My Eye.”

And I remember Shin-B, the Korean American rapper whom I met at the Japanese American Museum years ago when she handed me the first CD that she made.

We gotta get Shin-B! So Kevyn contacted her. She remembered me and sent us a bunch of tracks and we snatched “Buzzkillin.” I love her voice and her attitude.

Chris Lee, our producer, had a connection with David Choi and we met him and he was the coolest and most giving guy.

Of course we gotta get a track from this insanely prolific and talented artist and it ended up being the “Missing Piece.”

On the set of The People I’ve Slept With, Karen Anna Cheung introduced me to Big Phony’s music (aka Bobby Choi) in her trailer as she handed me the earphones of her walkman. I fell in love with Big Phony’s sound immediately and used a couple of his tracks in People.

In White Frog, I decided to use his tracks as the ever-present voice of Chaz (played by Harry Shum Jr.). Big Phony almost sounds like Elliot Smith with a happier and more Christian vibe. And full on emo!

On People, I was introduced to Paperdoll whose lead singer Teresa Lee was friends with both my executive producers Brian Yang on People and David Henry Hwang on White Frog. Teresa recommended “Silent” which provided a more alternative rock sound to the soundtrack that I had been missing.

From Craig’s list, I met Cribabi’s Yukari Fujiu who started a band with Andy Cox, the ex-guitarist of Fine Young Cannibals.

When I heard “Gloria,” I was immediately rocking out and I thought we really needed that in our soundtrack. We needed something that would rock people out!

During the production, I learned that Booboo Stewart and his sister Fivel were musicians. One day, Nils, his dad, played their music in his Escalade when we were driving to skid row to shoot a scene and I thought “Just So Right” would inject the right teen spirit into the soundtrack.

In post-production with this idea of the Asian American soundtrack, I was looking for a couple more tracks and started scouring which proved to be the best source for Asian American music videos.

I found Iammedic and thought their sound, a mix of rap and techno, would give the soundtrack that perfect party vibe that we were missing.

“Kevyn, do you really know them?” I called Kevyn Fong.

“Yeah, I just met them and I was going to work with them on something,” said Kevyn,

“Can you ask them if we can get a couple tracks from them for our soundtrack?”


As a teenager, I would almost always listen to the soundtrack of a movie at a record store before even seeing the movie. I would fall in love with so many movies just by listening to their soundtracks and looking at their posters. So given the opportunity in this amazing electronic and cyber age, I naturally jumped at the opportunity of putting my own soundtrack together. My Asian American soundtrack.

Why Japan is Awesome #391: The Speech Jamming Gun

If you’ve ever been in a movie theater next to people who wouldn’t stop jabbering during the whole film and wished that you had a gun that could silence those annoying Chatting Cathy’s, the Japanese are already way ahead of you.

I give you the portable “SpeechJammer” gun:

Invented by Japanese scientists Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada, the device can silence people from over 30 meters away. Here’s how it works:

The gun records the offending talker’s speech then shoots those very words back at the offender with a 0.2 second delay, affecting the brain’s cognitive process leading to stuttering and eventually complete silence.

So let me get this straight? Thanks to our wonderfully inventive Japanese friends, we can now make all those unbearable people in our lives who just yap and yap—shut the hell up with just the push of a trigger?

Oh, how I heart you, Japan! You’re like the extra large deep-dish pizza of nations and I could eat you up in one sitting.

And The Oscar for Best Picture Which Prevented The Murder Of Three Innocent Men Goes To…

Movies can change lives.  Can save them, in fact.

“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” a film nominated for best documentary this year, is one of them.

Spoiler alert: stop reading now if you don’t want to know how the story of death row inmate Damien Echols and lifers Jessie Misskelley and James Baldwin turns out, and if you don’t want to hear Alfredo yammering from his soap box about the death penalty.

Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin, teenagers at the time, were convicted in 1994 for the horrific murder of three eight year old cub scouts.

The teens were local goth oddballs in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, where the police were under enormous pressure to solve the crime.  Beginning with a forced confession, half baked theories of ritual satanic murder hawked by questionable experts, and flimsy circumstantial evidence, the state succeeded in putting Echols on death row and threw away the key on Misskelley and Baldwin.

There they languished for 18 years, until film makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky got a hold of their story.

Berlinger and Sinofsky made three films over 15 years, raising the profile of the West Memphis Three, and paving the way for their long overdue exoneration.

Right now, in California, supporters of an anti death penalty measure – the SAFE California Act - have gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot in November which would give voters their first chance in three decades to decide whether they still think the death penalty is a good idea or not.

Supporters tout the cost savings of the measure: they estimate that life in prison without parole vs. the death penalty will save the state between 180 million and 200 million dollars a year.

Yay for schools, roads, and police!

This, to me, is a ridiculous, but I suppose necessary, way to present the measure.

It’s like saying I don’t want a mosque built in my neighborhood not because I have a problem with Muslims, but because I’m worried there won’t be enough parking spaces; or that the dust up over Obama’s birth certificate was actually about where he was born and the rules of the Constitution, and not whether some people were uncomfortable with a black man sitting in the Oval Office.

Find a politically neutral excuse, and use that to mask your real feelings.

So I’ll come out and say what I think, and hope, the SAFE Act people really think: the death penalty is wrong.  Better 100 killers are allowed to live than 1 innocent man is put to death.  I believe the state has the obligation to take the higher road, to behave better than the criminals it prosecutes.  I’m New Testament, not Old Testament, when it comes to this.

Since 1963, 140 people have been exonerated from Death Row.

One of them was exonerated after he died in prison while waiting to be put to death.  Taking into account all serious crimes, 289 people have been exonerated due to DNA evidence.

The average amount of time a convicted murderer has spent on death row before being acquitted?

9.8 years.

A decade.  A decade of your life stolen.   A decade of your life living with the sword of Damocles hanging over your neck.  A decade of hopelessness and despair.  And then you are expected to let go of the bitterness and anger and rejoin normal society and be a happy camper.

There is no monetary settlement big enough to fix this.

On August 19, 2011, eighteen years after their convictions, Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin walked out of prison.

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky aren’t just talented film makers.  They are civic heroes.  Can you imagine going to sleep every night knowing that your work has kept three innocent men from being murdered?  These documentarians are as important as the lawyers and judges who finally saw the light in this case.  They saw the light only because Berlinger and Sinofsky wouldn’t let it fade.

Is there a Nobel Prize for Doing Meaningful Work With A Camera?

If so, I nominate these guys.

Around the Horn: Do you believe in karma?

It sucks when people hurt you. And I’ve been hurt bad in the past. (Haven’t we all?) Yeah, I get it, people suck and people do bad things. Friends will say, “everything happens for a reason.” Another thing I hear a lot is “they’ll get what they deserve.” But what? But when? But how?

Do you believe in karma? Do you have a karma story? They say karma is a bitch. Have you ever met her?

QUENTIN: I have broken up twice before Valentine’s… mostly because I really didn’t feel right going through another Valentine’s without feeling right. I felt bad and I surely spent several Valentine’s alone after that. I do believe you sow what you get… is that karma? Karma sounds a bit too mystical, and I believe more in “action = reaction.” Isn’t that a law of Physics?

JEROME: As a kid, I used to believe in karma, feared it in fact. These days though, I’m of the notion that the good things or bad things that happen to you have no correlation with those good things or bad things that you do for or to others.

I’m open to the possibility that someone could have a healthy relationship with the concept, but I feel like the idea of things coming around because of your deeds is just a way to coerce people into doing good out of fear or reward alone.

I’d like to do good not because not doing so will bite me in the ass or because doing so will benefit me. I want to do it because I think it’s one of the best things I can do in this short life of mine. Let’s see how long this attitude lasts…

ALFREDO: Yes and No.

As to no: I remember watching a Holocaust documentary years ago and seeing innocent families crammed into cattle cars on their way to the gas chambers. There was nothing they could’ve done in their lives for which this was justifiable karmic payback. The same documentary, made in the 70’s or 80’s, also showed interviews with former concentration camp guards, living in nice homes, enjoying a comfortable retirement. There was clearly nothing they had experienced since the war which came close to forcing them to repay their karmic debt.

As to yes: as I watched the documentary, I wondered if the concentration camp guard’s actions had slowly corroded him on the inside, so that, in spite of the nice china and Mercedes in the driveway, he was depressed and unhappy and perhaps his children had come to loathe him. I wondered if it wasn’t a little bit like “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” only instead of a painting turning horrific while the guard’s face remained normal, it was his soul, his conscience - what he thought about when he turned the lights off at night - that was rotting him from the inside out.

PHILIP: I wouldn’t say I normally put much faith in that stuff but this one time, I remember being at a party and meeting the biggest asshole I’ve ever met—and I mean that literally. A couple of days later I’m visiting a TV producer friend for lunch and he tells me he’s about to hire a new assistant and it’s down to two candidates and could I sit in on the final interview with him and help him choose since they’re both equally qualified. The first candidate is a young college graduate and she’s very nice and seems perfect for the job. The second candidate turns out to be…yup, the asshole from the party. The sight of the guy’s face dropping as my friend introduced me and said I’d be sitting in was priceless and I thought to myself, “maybe there is something to this karma stuff.”

DHH: I don’t believe in karma, at least not in any predictive fashion, because I hold to a principle about human nature which works well for writers: very rarely do people believe their actions are bad or evil. That’s why most good drama focuses on characters who think they’re doing the right thing, even when they’re not (for instance, poor Oedipus, who has no idea that he killed his Dad and is sleeping with his Mom). Therefore, I can’t possibly figure out which actions by others would trigger a reward, and which would lead to retribution. And, in my experience, good and bad seem to fall fairly randomly upon people.

That said, there is one activity in life where it seems to me karma comes into play: parenting. All your unresolved issues come back to haunt you when you’re raising and dealing with your kids. And, yes, that can be scary as hell.

ROGER: I do believe in Karma. But what I’m intrigued in is how Karma has become that “God-fearing” element for many of those individuals who don’t believe in God. Most formal, organized religions basically keep you in check right? If you do good, you reap the rewards of what the religion promises. If you do bad, you will suffer the holy consequences. But what about those folks out there who don’t believe in formal religion, who don’t believe in God? What keeps them in check? In some strange way, Karma can and does for a good many. I find this rather ironic because many people I’ve met that are turned off by formal, organized religion are turned off because of that God-fearing element - that “thou can not believe God could be so fear-inducing.” But Karma does invoke some fear too, right? If you’re an ass to someone, some time down the line, perhaps not in this life but future ones, you’re gonna get a face full of that ass. Perhaps it won’t be dealt back in the same fashion it was delivered, but it will come around…eventually. That’s scary, right? Well, it’s scary for me. But my personal relationship with Karma is more on the lines of a scorecard. If anything, trying to load up on the good things and minimize the bad ones really helps dictate how I go about my day. And, most importantly, how I react to the jacked up things that come flinging at you on a day to day basis. All I know is if I’m too much of an ass too often of the time, I feel like crap. But I feel pretty consistently good when I do the opposite. So yeah, Karma keeps me in check. And at times it does scare me. Perhaps not in the way a violation of holy scripture would scare me, but scary nonetheless. Being reincarnated as a dung beetle is pretty sucky. But maybe not as scary or as sucky as eternal life in the fiery bowels of Satan’s anus known as hell…

IRIS: Growing up, we had the expression “bachi ga ataru” which was the warning given if someone said or did something disrespectful to someone or something else. Some karmic justice would come back and bite you in the ass. It was a good way to spook us kids to not do bad things, even if no one was looking. I suppose I do still believe in karma in a way, because I feel that it’s better to expend positive energy rather than negative energy. For instance, while I know most people tend to only write reviews (like on Yelp or Amazon or TripAdvisor) when they’ve had a negative experience (which is very helpful to know and I’m glad that they’re being written up if someone was treated poorly), but I prefer to only write reviews if I had an experience that was unusually positive.

ANDERSON: Growing up in Hawaii, we also used the term bachi to indicate that if you’re doing something bad, karma will bite you in the ass somewhere down the line. I don’t know if I believe all this karma stuff, but I do believe in being a good person and your good will will rub off on others or people will want to reciprocate that back to you. People who are sour apples, well, they’re just dicktards. You can’t help it.

I am also a firm believer of “noble revenge,”, which I think encapsulates Phil’s story. Moral causation, baby. Wait, so I guess I do believe in karma. Shit.

ANSON: Sure, it could be a made up term or belief to hopefully have people act more humane but I fully believe in karma. All the good things in life I know that somehow in some weird mysterious way, it’ll be paid back to me whether if its me finding a dollar on the floor, getting an awesome parking spot, or having an opportunity to work on amazing projects. At the same time, I know when I drink or smoke and abuse my body, karma will also mess with me. It’s the balance of life. You really think Saddamn Hussien would be chillin on some hawaiian resort sippin a mojito?

Is karma the same as karma sutra? Or is that kama sutra?

EMMIE: It’s kama sutra. Don’t act all innocent like you don’t know.

I do believe in karma, but not in a rigid tit-for-tat way. I subscribe to an all-creatures-great-and-small, universal umbrella type of energy/karma. I think we do good things for the world when we behave honorably, and vice versa. We’re all in this together, just like the Method soap guys say in the Virgin America airplane bathrooms.

BEVERLY: Karma might be something we humans made up in order for us to move on with our lives. If we get angry at somebody, it would be a waste of time to try to revenge ourselves. (I know some people might disagree with me on that- because let’s face it, the taste of revenge is sweet!) Karma let’s me ‘let it go’ and puts it in the hands of the cosmos. I like it, so I’ll subscribe to it. And karma teaches me to be kind because I don’t want to create bad karma for myself. I remember watching “The Craft” -this old 1990’s film with Neve Campbell- and since then, I try to only think good thoughts about other people because I’m afraid of wishing someone ill (giving off bad karma) and having that curse come back to me but 3xs stronger. (That film still makes me shudder!)

JUSTIN: Whether you believe in karma or not, it’s something that’s alive and well in the film industry- where lines are constantly being stretched and crossed. If you get to stay in the game long enough you can always get a front row seat to wtiness someone’s karmic arc in play. People might argue that a lot of the biggest assholes continue to be successful. But behind the scenes you see the price to their ‘success’.

Won’t Someone Please Think of the Porn Stars?

Today marks a milestone in the history of the city I live in—the City of Angels a.k.a. Los Angeles. Starting today, a city ordinance goes into effect requiring the use of condoms at on-location adult video shoots.

Of course, the porn industry has responded by ignoring the ordinance and carrying on with business as usual.

Now, it remains to be seen if the city will come down hard crack down on violators to avoid getting jizz egg on its face, but I’m going to stand erect tall in solidarity with my porno brothers and sisters on this issue.


Is it because I’m anti-condom? Of course not, condoms are vital to helping stop the spread of HIV and other STDs. But I think the porn industry already has stringent safeguard policies in place and that this is just the government’s attempt to legislate “morality” based on political pressure from some uptight people who just need to go out and GET LAID.

Is it because I’m trying to win the favor of certain…uh, individuals in the adult industry in a last-ditch clearly pathetic attempt to get them to go out with me? Come on, of course not. Really that’s just silly and offensive and whoever believes that is clearly…a dick.

[caption id=”attachment_86462” align=”aligncenter” width=”400” caption=”Uh…hi there, Miss Porn Star…fight the power!”][/caption]

No, I’m standing with my porno brothers and sisters because without them, we wouldn’t be enjoying all the amazing technological advances we have today. The late Whitney Houston may have believed that the children were our future, but in reality, it’s the fine folks who work in the porn industry.

Because if not for porn, we might not have CDs and DVDs, digital cameras, a little something called the internet and a whole lot of other awesome things that you’re probably enjoying at this very moment (read more about how porn made these things possible via our friends at Cracked here).

So if you care about the future, you’ll be right there alongside our porno brothers and sisters as they fight against unjust laws that unfairly target them. Because if we let them snuff out porn today, we may be snuffing out the technological wonders of tomorrow. Who knows—without porn, we may never see a cure for cancer.

[caption id=”attachment_86463” align=”aligncenter” width=”400” caption=”BTW, this is an image of a doctor pondering the cure for cancer.”][/caption]

Or the hoverboard.

Or the ability to make people’s clothes fly off solely using the power of thought.

And that would be a shame.

SAF Seeking… Learning Man-Speak, Lesson #1

[caption id=”attachment_86446” align=”aligncenter” width=”400” caption=”Oh, so that’s a hexagonal prybar. Is that for opening your car when you forget your keys?”][/caption]”It has to be 15mm,” I announce loudly.

"That’s stupid," he grunts.

"That’s what it says," I insist.

He looks up, his eyes searching for weakness in mine. I stare back defiantly, or as best as I could. I relent. My voice quavers, “Well, it says TWELVE to fifteen millimeters…”

This is one of those Mexican stand-offs for co-habitating sinning couples: the installation of the bedroom hardwood floors.

Oh, it sounds like so much FUN, doesn’t it? Perusing catalogs and Home Depot, choosing your hardwoods and dreaming of the finished product… you and he laughing and tickling each other in your immaculately white underwear with your suddenly toned abs on warm hardwood floors, a slight breeze rustling the chiffon curtains revealing a sunshiny day with your outdoor patio set all clean and upholstered and a brunch of fresh fruits and gourmet pastas all laid out on some tray next to a freshly opened bottle of champagne? Oh yeah, it’s like a Dove commercial mixed in with This Old House, isn’t it?

[caption id=”attachment_86447” align=”aligncenter” width=”296” caption=”Oh this hardwood flooring is so much fun!”][/caption]
Oh, I am foolish like any other sappy girl in love. Meet the man of your dreams, move in, rehab an old house, and spend your twilight years in an RV touring across America on the enormous gobs of money we got from Social Security. Kick the bucket, be reincarnated as a loon.

But first, rehab the house. As a COUPLE. We’re both hardwood floor installing neophytes. BUT! You see, my man is an amazing man: he has fixed roofs, motorcycles, and stripped and rehabbed sailing ships for a living at one point. He knows how to use a hexagonal prybar. As he tinkers, he problem solves. I myself am perplexed by the American Ruler… I know that one of them equals a foot. Because of my deficient simple math skills, I am one of those people who read the IKEA directions IN DEPTH. So imagine what it’s like when I, the 3-headed scorpion holding a pencil, authoritively says, "We need to keep a 15mm expansion gap around the perimeter," and his capable hands pause momentarily in the air. He eyes me suspiciously, like I’m a talking milkfish. I talk fast, because it is rare to be able to get a man’s attention away from the construction task at hand! "The internet says we have to leave 15mm because hardwood contracts and expands depending on the humidity, and if we don’t there’s a high risk of the floor buckling or rising or cracking, or just SUCKING and then we’ll fight and we’ll never want to work together again and if that’s the case, why be together in the first place, it’s probably just sex and not personality that keeps us together, and you know, I’d rather pay to get this professionally installed because we’re going to break up now anyway!"

No I didn’t say that, but that’s how it feels when I, as the woman lost in the woods in my nightgown, am talking to the mighty lion man, who is at home in his construction zone man cave.

He retaliates slowly, “I’ve never seen moulding that would hide 15 mm…”

We have wandered into the living room by this point. I point to the floors; along the bottom is a round additional bead under the crown moulding. His eyes open. He squints. He ruffles his brow. And then with a nod, “I see..” and then the words that can make a girl’s heart skip a beat, “You’re RIGHT.” (Add triumphant echo here.)

[caption id=”attachment_86448” align=”aligncenter” width=”186” caption=”I’m RIIIIIGHT!!!! Thank you base beading!”][/caption]

Ahh! I see!!!!! And I scribble furiously into my mental notes, “I can talk non-stop and ad-nauseum, but that will just sound like the squawking of a million crows. Simply put, for some guys, ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’.”

5 Asian Americans (Not Named Jeremy Lin) Who Came Out of Nowhere and Made an Impact

Just a little over a month ago, if you said that an Asian American baller would emerge as the NBA’s newest sensation, no one would’ve believed you. Yet, that’s exactly what happened with Jeremy Lin. But he’s not the only Asian American who seemingly came out of nowhere to defy expectations and make an impact on society. They may not have triggered anything approaching the levels of LINsanity we’re experiencing now, but in their own ways, the following Asian Americans made unexpected contributions that were just as important.


If you think there are obstacles for Asian Americans in sports in 2012, imagine what it must have been like 64 years ago when Dr. Sammy Lee became the first Asian American to win a gold medal for the United States and the first man to win back-to-back gold in Olympic platform diving (in 1948 and 1952). Born in 1920 to Korean immigrant parents in Fresno, Lee learned to dive by jumping into a pit dug in his coach’s backyard because Asians were banned from using the local public pool (except on “international” Wednesdays). From these humble beginnings, Lee made Olympic history and went on to coach future Olympic divers like Greg Louganis. And having spent some time with Dr. Lee, I can personally attest that at 91 years of age, he still has the energy, drive, charisma and a way with the ladies that helped make him a star over six decades ago.


When Chinese American Vincent Chin was murdered by two white unemployed auto workers who blamed Japan for the loss of American automotive jobs, the Asian American community was galvanized in a way it had never been before. And at the center of this new movement was Vincent’s Chinese immigrant mother, Lily Chin. She may not have been proficient in English or have any sort of activist background, but she emerged as the eloquent voice for the cause as she worked tirelessly to find justice for her son and inspired a whole generation of activists—both Asian and non-Asian. Sadly, Vincent Chin’s killers got off with probation and a small fine and a heart-broken Lily Chin returned to China. She passed away in 2002 and is buried next to her husband and son in Detroit.


Born to Chinese American laundry workers and raised in L.A.’s Chinatown, young Anna May Wong dreamed of becoming a movie star and through sheer will and perseverance, she achieved her goal. From her starring role in 1922’s Toll of the Sea (Hollywood’s first Technicolor film) to parts opposite Hollywood legends like Douglas Fairbanks (The Thief of Bagdad) and Marlene Dietrich (Shanghai Express), Wong more than held her own alongside the greats and enjoyed a four decade long career. Although she played leading roles—most notably, opposite fellow Asian American Philip Ahn in a series of thrillers for Paramount Pictures—she faced her fair share of racism; being denied roles like the lead in the big screen version of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth (which led to an Oscar for the yellow-faced Luise Rainer). Still, name another Asian American actor today who’s had the longevity and influence of Wong and you’ll begin to understand how amazing her accomplishments were.


Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1955, Dalip Singh Saund became the first Asian American, Indian American and Sikh member of the U.S. Congress. Born to humble beginnings in India, Saund immigrated to America in 1919 to study agriculture at UC Berkeley where he obtained both a M.A. and PhD in mathematics. He remained in California and became a farmer, but was bothered that South Asians could not become naturalized citizens. So he campaigned to have the law changed and became a citizen in 1949 after the racist legislation had been successfully overturned. In 1955, Saund ran against popular Republican candidate Jacqueline Cochran for California’s 29th Congressional District seat and against all odds, he won—surprising everyone including his most loyal supporters. He was re-elected two more times and only vacated his seat after a stroke in 1961 left him unable to speak. He passed away two years later.


Yeah, I know this isn’t technically a person, but it’s hard to single out just one individual soldier when so many in the all-Japanese American units served with such distinction during World War II; making them the most decorated units in American military history. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to internment camps and they seemed like the least likely candidates to fight for the U.S. But whether rescuing the Lost Battalion or liberating the concentration camp at Dachau, they served with valor and in 2010, the two units were awarded one of the nation’s highest honors by President Obama—the Congressional Gold Medal.

R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

Conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie has died, at the age of 82. He was the guy, instrumental in realizing the world of Star Wars for George Lucas. With his concept drawings for the likes of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and pretty much the whole shebang of the Star Wars universe, his work sold 20th Century Fox in giving a young Lucas a chance in directing a film that pretty much changed everything in Hollywood.

When I was a kid, I was amazed to see these “not really Star Wars” art floating around in magazines like Starlog, especially art depicting a more slender Darth Vader with a different type of helmet or a more feminine looking C-3PO trekking through the desert, as if it walked off the Metropolis set. What I would later learn is that these were early concept drawings of Star Wars, which made it cooler because to me, they were now alternate universes of what Star Wars could be and just opened up that world for me even more. Check out some of the early concept art:

Wouldn’t it have been cool if Lucas did decide to have stormtroopers carry lightsabers? When I was a kid, it was so trippy to see this concept art in the pages of Starlog and other Star Wars production books. McQuarrie’s early designs are almost like an alternate universe, a wishful thinking of what could’ve been, especially for a Star Wars crazed kid like me.

But what is more defining in McQuarrie’s contribution to the franchise is the fact that his concept art for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were pretty much directly translated by Lucas and his ILM factory. Check out McQuarrie’s concept art for the Planet Hoth sequence:

Or his art for Cloud City and the climactic lightsaber showdown between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker:

It’s so mind blowing to me that this is all concept art! Usually, early designs are changed and modified over time and the end result usually is quite different. But in McQuarrie’s case, he was the Oracle of the Star Wars Universe, fully realizing Lucas’ vision to a tee. So amazing to me. Another example from a pivotal scene from Return of the Jedi:

Quint over at AICN, in his op ed on McQuarrie, writes that his “lived in” technology and look of Star Wars. He’s also spot on when he writes the following:

Ralph McQuarrie achieved the dream of every artist: his work sparked the imaginations of millions. His particular style met with Lucas’ vision at the right time and that spark created the most iconic original film series in the history of cinema.

McQuarrie’s fingerprints can be seen in other seminal films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, Total Recall, Nightbreed and the original Battlestar Galactica. He was also hired to create haunting art that showed the sheer power of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Art:

He would win an Oscar in 1986 in production design for his work in Coccoon.

I want to say thank you, Mr. McQuarrie. Your work realized the dreams of this sci-fi, movie geek kid of the ’80s. Well done, sir. Your work will live on! In the meantime, you can see and admire McQuarrie’s vast body of work via his official website.


Sexiest HIV Awareness Ad Ever

[youtube][/youtube]This goes out to all the KTV (Chinese moniker for karaoke) and hostess bar girls out there! Using protection will “allow you to move forward without losing steam” and also “walk down the street, carefree.” Hmm… kind of like Mary Tyler Moore? This Malaysian Chinese ad is pure genius, especially the part where the ham sap los are rapping about who is faster than a Ferrari This is a pretty progressive awareness campaign, filled with randy fun, doesn’t take itself seriously, but at the same time, drives the point across.

Hmm, I wonder if there’s an Asian Rush Limbaughwho’s enraged right now and using the slut word a lot on the air.

It’s Official: The YOMYOMF Network is Coming to YouTube!

When we founded this blog in 2009, one of our dreams was that one day we’d be able to create a space where our community of artists and friends could come together, collaborate and work on projects that inspired and excited us. That dream moved one step closer to reality this past Friday when YouTube announced their new original channels initiative (read all about it here). And we’re happy to report that YOMYOMF will be a part of this unprecedented launch.

The YOMYOMF Network will be more than just an “Asian American” channel—we’re going to bring you programming that’ll embrace our trademark YOMYOMF sensibility. So check out our press release below where you’ll learn more about some of what’s to come and keep reading our blog (and our Facebook and Twitter as well) because we’ll be sharing all the exclusive updates about our channel right here first.

But for now, we’re very honored and excited about this opportunity and we’ll do our best to create interesting and entertaining content. Finally, we’d like to extend a special thanks to all our readers. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without your continued support. It’s going to be quite a ride and we hope you’ll come along with us! 


The ‘Fast Five’ director teams-up with top YouTubers Ryan Higa, KevJumba and others on new online channel

(Los Angeles, CA)—Film director Justin Lin (Fast Five) is overseeing the creation of the YOMYOMF Network, scheduled to debut in early 2012 as a launch partner of YouTube’s groundbreaking original channels initiative, announced on October 28. The new channel springs from (YOMYOMF), an Asian American pop culture blog founded in 2009 by Lin, whose other directing credits include MTV’s Better Luck Tomorrow, Universal’s Fast & Furious and episodes of the NBC comedy Community.

“YOMYOMF was started so creative and interesting individuals could come together to share their point-of-views in an honest and entertaining way,” says Lin. “Our new channel is the natural evolution of that philosophy and I look forward to working with new and old friends who share that sensibility.”

The YOMYOMF Network is founded by entertainment, technology and web video veterans including Lin, Ryan Higa, Kevin Wu, Abdul Khan, Philip W. Chung, Cash Warren, NBA star Baron Davis and Chester See.

Asian Americans continue to be one of YouTube’s largest demographic. Many of the top YouTube stars are Asian Americans like Kevin Wu (KevJumba) and Ryan Higa (currently the 2nd most subscribed personality on YouTube). Meanwhile, Asian Americans continue to make inroads in Hollywood with films like A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas and Lin’s own Fast Five, which broke box office records globally and had the biggest opening in Universal Pictures’ history. The new channel will bring these two worlds together and tap into the ever-growing audience—both Asian and non-Asian—embracing this new generation of talent.

“The YOMYOMF Network will be about empowering those unique voices that are driven by passion,” explains Lin. “We want to support both established and emerging artists who are not only talented, but have that passion. The young YouTubers like Ryan and Kevin started with nothing, but went out there and created a name and following for their work. It reminds me of what we did on Better Luck Tomorrow and that’s the energy and sensibility that will serve as the foundation to build our online family.”

Lin is overseeing the slate of shows being developed for the channel, which will include both scripted and reality series, and cover a wide range of genres from comedy to animation to music to lifestyle programs.

“I’ve been on YouTube since 2006 and this is one of the most exciting projects I’ve been honored to be a part of,” says Ryan Higa. “To be able to create the type of network that I’ve always wanted to see, to help redefine what an Asian American channel can be in the 21st Century and to showcase the amazing talent out there—this is an unprecedented opportunity.”

The YOMYOMF Network has already attracted a diverse roster of well-known talent including Jessica Alba (Machete), Far East Movement (hip hop quartet, “Like a G6” #1 on the Billboard charts), David Henry Hwang (Tony Award-winning writer, M. Butterfly), Sung Kang (Fast Five), Danny Pudi (Community), Joe & Anthony Russo (Emmy Award-winning directors, Arrested Development), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) and Iris Yamashita (Academy Award-nominated writer, Letters from Iwo Jima).

Lin will serve as the channel’s Creative Head while the day-to-day operations will be managed by Philip W. Chung (who will oversee the creative content) and Abdul Khan (who will oversee the business affairs). Other members of the management team include producers Cash Warren, Sal Gatdula and the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Anderson Le.

"I’ve always been a fan of content which springs from a desire to do really interesting and creative work,” says Baron Davis. “So I’m excited that I get to collaborate with artists like Justin Lin, Kevin Wu and Ryan Higa who have that desire and also care about the Asian American community. The YOMYOMF Network will be a place for everyone who shares that collective sensibility whether you’re Asian or not—all are welcome."