Coal coming through the Northwest + multimedia storytelling

The environmental news team I work with, EarthFix, won a bunch of awards for this year’s SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. Yay us! We even took the top two spots for our special/enterprise online reporting on the proposed Northwest export projects and the anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Though it wasn’t part of our 2012 Northwest coal coverage (we’ll submit the ongoing series again for 2013), our multimedia special Voice of Coal came directly out of the traditional news reporting the team had done. If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you – these coal proposals are very controversial, pitting environmentalists against labor unions, public health officials and politicians against job creators, and folks on all ends of the spectrum. ‘Voices’ was our effort to bring real people’s voices and first-hand experience to the forefront, but always with the backdrop of well-reported journalism on the topic.

Though I don’t often have time to create content for EarthFix myself (I mostly do community engagement, events and social media), I had the opportunity to pitch in for this. Here are two audio slideshows I produced as part of the ‘Voices of Coal’ project:

It’s a pretty exciting time to be doing digital media and storytelling. We were very inspired by the Climate Wisconsin project for Voices of Coal. I’ve since seen some great interactive multimedia/transmedia projects (using video, audio, photos, text) including Black Gold Boom, about the big oil boom in North Dakota, and Reinvention Stories, looking at the identity crisis and ultimate efforts to reinvent the city of Dayton Ohio. Both those projects were part of some public media experiments called Localore. And of course there’s the epic, sublime experience of consuming Snow Fall: The Avalanche At Tunnel Creek. There you go. Now you’ve got several sittings worth of excellent transmedia storytelling to geek out on.


Check out

I ♥ Multnomah County Library.

Did you know, not only do we in Portland have the highest circulation in the nation for libraries our size, but we also have the highest collection turnover rate, too. And yes, we passed the library ballot measure this past week. Apparently I’m not the only one who loves the library… More on our voracious library culture from the Oregonian a few months back here.

Currently checked out

1491 : new revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (actually, hub’s reading this one)
The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century by Studs Terkel
The Lemon Tree: an Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader: The Yellow Wallpaper and other fiction by Charlotte Perkins
Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
Seed to Harvest by Octavia E. Butler

Extras: The Complete First Season
Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series
Slings and Arrows: Season 3
Weeds: Season 5

West Side Story: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Saltbreakers by Laura Veirs
It’s Blitz! by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
La Foret by Xiu Xiu
Centuries Before Love and War by Stars of Track and Field
Inland Territory by Vienna Teng
New Moon by Elliot Smith

A2Z September 2009 Edition

a) My ankle is bunk. I had a Spice Girls incident years ago (tripped over my own platform shoes)(OK I know, why the hell was I wearing platform shoes? What can I say, it was the 90s.) and ever since my right ankle has been sensitive on an on and off basis. This week, on. 😦
b) Fall means Back to Blog! I shall blog regularly again after my unexpected summer hiatus.
c) Our poor Corolla has a whole slew of problems right now. Nothing serious, but annoying enough. On the list: driver side seat belt is failing; dome light doesn’t work; window rattles; some weird noise when we turn (okay that might be more serious). If anyone has a good mechanic in Portland let me know.
d) Dog or no dog? That is the question.
e) Egg Salad. I want to make egg salad today.
f) Excited to dabble in the film world again. I recently joined a small collective (if you’re knowledgeable about the local film scene and interested in getting involved let me know!) producing a new program at KBOO called Behind the Screen. Listen in the last Thursday of the month.
g) I’m gazing out my window and the skies are gray. Or is it grey? Actually grey is the British spelling. So, now you know. Madonna would definitely use “grey.”
h) House! Enough said.
i) Now that it’s fall, I’m committed to doing more improv! A group of us gals just started meeting to play together. Hopefully that will get going on a regular basis. I founded a rad all-woman improv troupe in Chicago years ago called RED. One of the other members of this group was in Southern Oregon’s Hamazons: Warrior Princesses of Comedy. Other improv opps I plan to partake in: Jumping Off Place and Curious Comedy‘s Open Court.
j) Didn’t get to finish Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake before I had to return it to the library. I’m putting it on hold again.
k) Just watched Project Runway Allstars on DVR. Korto Momolu was robbed! Just goes to show that white man making an “edgy” collection that can be worn by twig-sized teens gets more respect than a woman of color making bold, well-crafted beautiful designs for women of all sizes.
l) I’m into my Burt’s Bees’ Lip Shimmer. Shade: Peony.
m) I’m excited to dive into the slo-cooker pork mole that Matt made. Yummy!
n) Check out the newly designed Bitch Magazine. The stalwart feminist pop culture rag took a break to regroup and are looking better than ever in “The Consumed Issue.” They’ve also got a new Executive Director Julie Falk who we hope will continue to help steer the Bitch boat in the right direction. Call them Bitch Media now and enjoy not only the magazine, but their offerings of audio, blog and more. Support Bitch by joining their B-Hive!
o) Open auditions for Portland Theatre Brigade are happening starting next week! All young actors ages 7-15 invited to audition for this fabulous, empowering, young people’s theatre company.
p) Pens I’m into right now: Uni-Ball Gel Grip Pens, 0.7 mm, Medium Point; Uni-Ball Vision Elite Liquid Rollerball Pens, 0.5 mm, Micro Point; and always the magical, wonderful standard Fine Point Sharpie.
q) Quip: 1. A clever, witty remark often prompted by the occasion.2. A clever, often sarcastic remark; a gibe. Courtesy of Free Dictionary.
r) RIP Richard Francis, host of KBOO’s A Different Nature. I didn’t know him well, but I know he was a sweet soul and well-loved at KBOO. Here are nice articles about Richard on the Kill Ugly Radio and Baron Landscape’s Broken Hour blogs.
s) Super Project Lab, my hubby’s improv troupe, has a whole bunch of shows coming up. This weekend they’re doing “Old Flames” at Curious Comedy and they are sharing the bill with Canoofle. And Matt (my sweetie) directed the show!
t) TBA! TBA! TBA! Here’s an interview I did with curator Kristan Kennedy for Behind the Screen.
u) Okay, nearing the end of the alphabet and feeling a bit stuck… I always wanted Wonder Woman Underoos. It seems they still make them.
v) The Verdana font was designed by Matthew Carter specifically to be read on a computer screen. Here’s more from
w) Speaking of Wonder Woman, did you know that Joss Whedon started writing a live action film adaptation of Wonder Woman? Too bad it never came to fruition.
x) Xi is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is preceded by Nu and followed by Omicron
y) I’m a full-time working stiff now. Luckily it’s at this marvelous place, Young Audiences.
z) Zee End.

Summer vacation is almost over

Didn’t realize I was taking a summer vacation from the blog! As the summer winds down I’m back. I’ve been busy, busy, busy, with lots of exciting, crazy antics, which I’ll probably write about later when things are a bit more settled. Because I’m been so INSANE (just know, the last three weeks, and the last few days in particular, have been one of the biggest roller coaster rides I’ve experienced), and because my poor hubster is so darn sensitive to the heat, we decided to go to the air-conditioned movie theater last night. A welcome and excellent distraction!

There were a few good options at the Lloyd Center theatre (the one outside the mall on Multnomah) – Funny People, (500) Days of Summer, Julie & Julia. We chose Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci. The (based on true) story follows a nearly-30 young woman named Julie who dreams to be a writer, but depressingly plugs away at government desk job. Her husband encourages her to start a cooking blog. She decides that her blog/life project will be to cook every single recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in exactly 365 days. Parallel to Julie’s story is Julia Child’s story – how she began seriously cooking in her 40s while living in Paris, studying at the Cordon Bleu and her deeply romantic and loving relationship with her husband Paul. To top it all off it was written and directed by queen of the chick flick Nora Ephron of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle fame. Sounds like too-perfect a package, right?

Loved it! OK, I admit, it’s exactly what I wanted and needed for a distraction – a sappy, sweet love story. But it was even better than I expected from a formulaic Hollywood “chick flick.”

First of all, Meryl Streep is frakkin’ brilliant. She is such an amazing actress! She always manages to create fresh, complex, engaging characters, unlike so many other iconic (particularly male) actors of her caliber and age, who seem to fall into trite characterizations of themselves. (Think DeNiro, Pacino.) Streep’s Julia Child is hilarious, loving, lovable, tragic, flamboyant and charming. Stanley Tucci makes a perfect Paul to Streep’s Julia and their chemistry is heart-warming and wonderful to watch. Jane Lynch has a fun appearance as Julia’s equally tall and charming sister.

In the other story line, Amy Adams does a very nice job as the sweet, quirky blogger. Her journey through Julia’s cookbook is somewhat predictable, but well-played and satisfying. Eric Messina brings a nice grounding to their story line as husband Eric.

Another interesting aspect to the film is the political and social backdrop of the time periods of the two stories. Julia and Paul’s story takes place amidst the scary McCarthy years, with Paul himself getting investigated for his communist ties. Julie and Eric live in Queens, Julie working at the Lower Manhattan Development Project post-9/11 answering calls about claims for survivors of folks who perished.

All in all, I enjoyed the film. It made me yearn for (and almost feel sick over) the gorgeous, rich French dishes. And it’s always lovely and rare to see a good movie with strong, interesting, complex women characters, made by a strong female director.

news roundup

It’s May 4, which means Day 4 of my NaBloPoMo month. Only 27 days to go…

Here are some random news and headlines that have caught my eye over the past few days:

When Coffee Wars Get Bitter: The Floyd’s Saga – There’s some shady stuff happening with one of my local coffee shops. Our PDX explains how Floyd’s, the cool drive-thru coffee shop, were forced out of their space. Photo courtesy of One True b!x on flickr.

R.I.P. Al Robles and Manong Al Has Left the Building– Longtime Filipino-American community activist and poet Al Robles passed away. He’s best known for his work around the closing of the I-Hotel in San Francisco, a former low-income residence for lots of Asian American elders that got torn down amidst lots of controversy and not-without a huge resistance from the community. He is featured in Curtis Choy‘s classic documentary Fall of the I Hotel as well as his latest film Manilatown is in the Heart, currently hitting the film festival circuit. Hyphen and Racewire report.

Brazilian theater director August Boal dies – Another sad loss for the community. Boal is the founder of Theater of the Oppressed, which he continued to teach until now. His work has been incredible in empowering communities to communicate and make powerful change. Photo courtesy of Teia 2007 on flickr.

If Pigs Could Fly: Traveling in the Time of Swine Flu – Interesting commentary from Sandip Roy at New American Media about America’s new-found role in the swine fly scare.

Highest Paid CEOs for 2008 – In case you’re not pissed off enough already. Based on AP research here’s an unfuriating list of some folks who’ve made off well, despite the rest of us struggling. And yes, 4 of the top 10 are from our friendly banks.

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.

Buck Howard, pretty great

NaBloPoMo Day 2. I managed to work the “sweet” theme in…

Matt and I adventured to Living Room Theater to see The Great Buck Howard. I didn’t know anything about the film, but the description sounded intruiging, and just the right light tone we were looking for. It stars John Malkovich, who I often find is annoyingly just shades of the same character on screen, but we still thought we’d give it a go.

Malkovich plays Buck Howard, a washed up stage entertainer as a mentalist. (The character is inspired by real-life mentalist The Amazing Kreskin. The film’s director Sean McGinly was actually Kreskin’s road manager for a while.) A mentalist is kinda like a magician (though he hates being called one) and a hypnotist rolled into one. His claim to fame is that he had appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times. The story follows Buck through the eyes of his new road manager, Troy Gable, played by Colin Hanks (aka son of Tom, both in real-life and in this film). Troy is a law school drop-out who finds himself sucked into the world of the Great Buck Howard.

Buck and Troy travel his circuit of civic centers in third class cities like Bakersfield and Akron. Despite his corny and outdated performance style, Buck still enthralls the audiences, especially with his signature finale. The “effect” (what one might call a trick or an gimmick, but with mentalist, you just write things off as fake) is this: Buck enlists two audience members to hide the cash that he’s receiving for the gig somewhere in the theater. He enlists another two volunteers who stay with Buck and his entourage backstage in the Green Room while it’s being hidden to ensure that he is not cheating. Once the money is hidden, Buck returns and somehow, someway, always sniffs out that wad of cash.

The trajectory of the film moves toward Buck’s big new effect, which he insists will be the impetus for comeback he’s been waiting for. I won’t give it away, but I will say that the end is both predictable and not.

I loved John Malkovich in this. He creates such an interesting, specific and empathetic character in the guise of a diva buffoon. In his shiny suits and gawdy sunglasses, Buck has these hilarious mannerisms, such as an overly vigorous handshake and his constant demonstrative declarations, “I love this town!”

Overall, I found both the writing and the performances to be quite good. Colin Hanks is extremely likable, Emily Blunt is capable, Steve Zahn is wonderful as an overzealous Cincinnati “groupie.” Tom Hanks even makes an appearance, albeit, a rather forgettable one as the senior Gable. There are also lots of other fun cameos from the likes of David Blaine, Jon Stewart, Griffin Dunne and others.

If you’re looking for a sweet, interesting character comedy, I would check it out. And if you see it at Portland’s Living Room Theater, I would also recommend the chocolate cake with peanut butter cream icing. Yum.


I’m trying NaBloPoMo again this month. I tried it a few months back and lost steam because I went out of town a few times. For the month of May I will post on my blog once a day. Yes, every single day in May. That’s 31 posts. Of course I picked a month with 31 days! But it is spring, so I suppose I’m feeling inspired. The theme for the month is “Sweet” if I choose to use it. Today I will…

If we’re talking sweets, we’re talking dessert. If we’re talking dessert, then for me, above all else, we’re talking CHOCOLATE. And I mean the real kind, not the icky, weird concoction they call “milk chocolate.” Here’s a few factoids and trivial things about our friend chocolate:

  • The Mayans and Aztecs were the original chocoholics. Some of them loved it so much they even grew cacao in their backyard gardens. Now, that’s my kinda urban gardening!
  • One of my favorite chocolate books is Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival. Each chapter of the book begins with a recipe. The novel employs a heavy dose of magic realism which works well with the foodie, soap operatic plot.
  • Xocolātl is a popular cacao drink that the Mayans and Aztecs made. Dagoba makes a bar they call Xocalatl.
  • Seeds from the evergreen tree Theobroma cacao are used in making chocolate.
  • Another fictional chocolate I enjoyed is the film Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. The themes aren’t entirely different from Like Water for Chocolate with passionate chocolate making and high drama about a small conservative French town who receives a big shake up with a new chocolatier in town.
  • Theobromine is the bitter alkaloid in chocolate that gives you that nice chocolate buzz.
  • “Chocolate gives you zits.” Remember that old rumor? Well, bust that myth, cuz it ain’t true.
  • Portland is home to some pretty nifty chocolatiers. Alma Chocolate, Cacao Drink Chocolate, and Moonstruck Chocolatier are some of the standouts.

Here’s a young girl after my own heart. Photo courtesy of RIPizzo on flickr.

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!