My new favorite super hero: Sikh Captain America

The hilarious, whip smart comedian Hari Kondabolu caught up with ‘Captain Sikh America’ for Totally Biased on FX. (HT Colorlines.)

Sikhtoons editorial cartoonist Vishavjit Singh dons the cape to ‘fight hate crimes,’ he says. They wander around New York to see if folks are ready for this new superhero. It’s a funny bit, but always a little sad to see how ignorant some can be when you do these person-on-the-street types of segments.

If you’re not familiar with Hari Kondabolu you should definitely check him out. This is the first thing I saw of Hari’s a few years ago, a brilliant short film about an Indian American on the rise (who looks an awful like comedian Hari):

NPR did a good piece on Hari for their ongoing series on race ‘Code Switch.’

And listen here to an interview my pal Sarika did with Hari for APA Compass on KBOO Community Radio in Portland.

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what’s on the tube?

I was sad to witness a couple of my favorite tv shows display some cringe-worthy, questionably racist and sexist moments. I’m actually one of those lefties who likes tv and appreciates keeping up with some pop culture. But my enjoyment of the boob tube is always slightly dampened when my media criticism radar starts flashing during 30 Rock or So You Think You Can Dance. And now, there’s a whole new crop of TV shows featuring Asian Pacific American faces including Hawaii Five-0, Nikita and Outsourced. So far, from what I’ve seen it’s both cringe-inducing and encouraging.

The radio collective I’m part of APA Compass is launching a new feature and dedicating our next show to it – APA Pop Watch – commentary and analysis on APA representation in media and pop culture. The program will air Friday morning November 5, 9am PST on KBOO Community Radio. You can listen online or, if you live in the region on the FM dial at 90.7 Portland, 91.9 Hood River, 100.7 Corvallis.

If you’d like to prepare yourself for our discussion, you might want to hulu some of those new shows and check out these recent(-ish) commentaries…

Asian American Sitcom in the Works – Angry Asian Man

Asians in Primetime – by Dmae Roberts, The Asian Reporter

Fall 2010 TV Season Preview – racebending.com

Is 30 Rock Racist? – by Zeesham Aleem, Huffington Post

Beyond Apu by

sweet shamelessness

Time for some shameless promotion.

First me…

Here’s some recent audio work I’ve done at KBOO Community Radio. I’ve been part of the APA Compass Collective for the last couple of years. I also recently started a new pilot show with S.W. Conser called Behind the Screen focusing on local filmmakers and festivals.

I also write for the Asian Reporter. Here are a few of my recent opinion pieces:

Now to brag about my friends’ projects…

  • My friend Sarah Liane Foster is a brilliant clown. Check out her new solo show The Last Show You’ll Ever See playing later this month at Curious Comedy Theater in NE Portland.
  • I know a bunch of folks involved with the live soap opera Soap St. Theater including creator/director/writer Eric Martin Reid, musician Ralph Huntley (of Live Wire! and Super Project Lab fame) and actors Adrienne Flagg (also Creative Director at IFCC and founder/artistic director of Portland Theatre Brigade), Jennifer Lanier (also a Portland Theatre Brigade teacher) and Sean McGrath (another LiveWire! cast member).
  • My friend Risa Morimoto’s documentary is airing nationally on PBS‘s Independent Lens this week for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The film is called Wings of Defeat, which reveals the true stories of World War II Kamikaze pilots. Check your local PBS listings for exact times.
  • A bunch of friends and colleagues organize and are taking part in the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival going on right now. It’s their 25th Anniversary! Congrats folks!
  • Levi Ethan Cecil is a musician I know (and also a dj on KBOO – his show is Midnight Mixtape) who’s doing something very grassroots to try and get his CD released. Check out his website to learn more.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m sure there will be more later!

Day 3 of NaBloPoMo done.

my weekend…


as i sit here waiting for audio to be extracted off the cd from our great apa compass show (we talked about ethnic media and also had a piece about the agent orange justice speaking tour) this morning, i thought i’d share some of the cultural outings i’m planning (or recommending) for the weekend.

hubster matt and his improv troupe, super project lab, are at it again with their first run at the lovely, brand new curious theater. they’re trying a different format for this run (instead of their mainstay, “meet your ___” in which local celebs become monologuists who inspire the groups improv scenes). it’s called “3some” and each show will feature just 3 players performing a long-form improvised show. should be interesting! the shows are 9:30pm dec 5/6 and dec 12/13 at curious theater 5225 ne mlk, portland.

on saturday, we’re headed to see our talented friend lisa degrace in her one-woman piece “flying iron” using music, movement, text, costume, clown and more. check out this description: “The audience sees someone “trapped by choice” in a very small world, an iron hoop skirt contained within a 30-foot diameter dress.” sounds intriguing, no? shows are at performance works northwest, 4625 se 67th, portland on saturday and sunday dec 6/7 and dec 13/14.

also on saturday, artist shu-ju wang is doing an artist talk at the central library in downtown portland. she has a very sweet exhibit showing in this cool room of the library called the john wilson special collections (it holds rare materials). feels kinda like you’re walking onto the set of buffy the vampire slayer. the show is called “relay/replay” and it includes 4 artist books that she created in collaboration with elders from rose schnitzer manor. really beautiful pieces.

on the other end of the spectrum, my friend john breen is starring in a movie called the auteur playing at cinema 21 this week. it’s a comedy, it involves the porn industry. not my usual topic of interest, but hey i’m up for a good laugh, if it’s a good laugh.

off to finish uploading this dang audio. it’s taking forever!

mother tongue


apa compass is a radio show i help produce as part of a collective at kboo. shameless plug: we’re on today at 9:00am pacific at kboo or on the FM in portland 90.7. in case you miss it we’ll have an archive (and podcasts soon!) at kboo.fm/apacompass. today we’re talking about language and identity and community.

i long to speak another language fluently. my parents’ first language is tagalog (filipino) and they never taught it to me and my brothers. when we were young, they thought it would hinder our ability to learn english and possibly leave us with an accent which might make it more difficult for us to fit in. and now as adults we all realize that loss and my mother tries to speak to us in tagalog at random times as if it might still seep in. and it might.

in fact, all these years, i’ve claimed that i don’t know tagalog. but the truth is that i actually understand a LOT of tagalog, but can’t open up my mouth and speak it.

in honor of our show today, i want to share a funny experience from when my husband and i went to the philippines last year. it was his first time and my first time with a “guest” who was not filipino. we were on our own a fair amount at the megamalls, the museums, tourist sites etc. i quicky found myself interpreting for matt. that’s right, i was actually interpreting, much more than i thought i ever could. it was a delightful discovery and has changed my perspective on my relationship with my parents’ mother tongue.

and another bizarre thing occurred, a story matt loves to tell. people would speak to me in tagalog. i understood the gist of what they were saying. then i spoke back to them in english. they understood me. we communicted back and forth in two different languages. i actually barely realized that it was happening, but matt, as an observer pointed it out. it happened all the time during our two week stay.

i’ll keep working on my tagalog. but next i’m going to tackle me some espanol…

autumn linkage

here’s my opportunity for shameless promotion of my other projects:

  • recently started contributing to the opinion column My Turn at The Asian Reporter
    i ruminate on things like Margaret Cho’s The Cho Show, hip hop, Olympics coverage, etc etc.
  • we have some new APA Compass episodes archived and available for download.
  • i’m on the board of the rad, feminist non-profit Bitch Magazine and we’ve had some great fundraising efforts over the last month in reaction to a financial crisis. now we could use some help in the form of feedback – do our survey!

that’s all for now. i’ll be back here starting november 1, beginning a crazy stint with NaBloPoMo

January linkage

Here are some links to some of my recent work online:

APA Compass on KBOO Community Radio
Paper Cuts, Tung-Hui Hu and the Angry APA Minute

The Asian Reporter
Emerging artist finds inspiration from quilts, industrial sites

Local comic shop owner puts together stunning tribute to Bill Mantlo, writer of ROM Spaceknight
Vancouver-based artist’s new work explores identity and labor through subtle forms

North Portland gallery explores the world of sophisticated craft

okay, it’s been a while, but i’ve been busy…

lots of stuff has been going on. at kboo we had an excellent fundraiser on halloween called boo bash. kboo’s night of the living tongue, a radio program that explores the bizarre and noise music and text world, hosted the evening which began with some very interesting experimental performances. the evening the evolved into more accessible danceable tunes. the bands i especially enjoyed Rainbow and the Kittens and Strength. and yes we raised a bunch of money for kboo. yay!

in my volunteer hat at kboo with apa compass radio collective we had a great show this month featuring apa women artists including dj anjali, spoken word artists yellow rage, and visual artists una kim and shu-ju wang. check out this link to hear an excerpt from the show which includes the live discussion with una and shu-ju.

saw the most excellent indie film, true to what i believe indie film can best be. as the name alludes, colma: the musical takes place in colma, a town close to san francisco and known for it’s large population of dead folks, and is indeed a musical. to sum up what i love about the film: 1) the writing (dialogue and music) is wonderful, not too clever, not too trite, not too serious; 2) the performances are nice by a likeable cast of beautiful real, interesting people, instead of the typical beautiful, beautiful people; 3) a testament to the true indie spirit, the cast and crew not only make do with the limited resources they excel with some gorgeous scenes including a lovely scene in a cemetery. here’s the trailer .

long time no see…

it’s been forever since i’ve posted. guess i just got overwhelmed with life, weddings, projects. my brother mark married his sweetie kimmi in chicago last weekend. it was a fun, exhausting, hot weekend. of note were the neo-futurists’ too much light makes the baby go blind a fun dada-ish show in which they attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. always an interesting range of things from comedy to political to satirical. and every week they roll dice to see how many new plays they’ll write/pull for the following week’s show. (the particular show we saw was fun, not the best of theirs, but always worth a look). i also loved the cloud gate at millenium park (better know as the “bean” because it looks much more like a bean than a cloud). a simply designed yet, wonderfully engaging and compelling scultpure that somehow pulls you in.

i also started working part time at kboo community radio as outreach coordinator. it’s fun and hectic for sure. i’m also part of the apa compass collective and we’re currently looking for new members who are interested in helping produce our monthly asian pacific american public affairs program.

more locally some great stuff happening… i’m helping to organize the portland grassroots media camp a weekend-long event of skills trainings and workshops designed to make media creation more accessible taking place august 24-26 at various locations around portland. matt and i are teaching a workshop at scarlet star studio called generate, create, communicate: using improvisation to unleash the story inside. also, matt and i are trying to organize an improvisation share/playgroup which will probably come to fruition sometime in september.