Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Numbers Game(I've entered my 36th chamber)

     According to the Chinese calendar, today is the first day of 2013.  Happy new year everyone!  2013 is the year of the snake.  Today is also my birthday; I'm 36.  I've made it through 3 complete cycles of the Chinese horoscope.  Three is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and it sounds close to "birth."
     Most people think I'm a snake, but in reality I'm a dragon(the animal that proceeds the snake on the Chinese horoscope).  See, a Chinese year can be either 12 or 13 months.  When I was born 36 years ago,  February tenth was still in 1976.  I'm what in Chinese is known as a 真龍假蛇(true dragon, false snake).

     My father's birthday is February ninth, so this year is also special because our birthdays are the last and first days of the year.  If you think about things like lineage, an unbroken chain, passing the torch, metamorphosis, the days are quite significant...I can hear your mental "oohs and aahs" from here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some parenting advice from a single guy...

...I'm sure this will go over well.

I was inspired by Patton Oswalt.  When I heard his joke years ago, the one that's at the beginning of the video below,  he succinctly expressed what I experienced multiple times as a kid.  Oh yeah, and it's hilarious.

     As a parent, or just an adult in general, you don't want to lose your moral authority and respect that a child has for you.  Don't pass on your bigotry and fears onto the next generation.  In fact if you're a racist, just don't have children.  Get sterilized today!  And if you have outdated prejudices towards people of a different skin color, religion, sexuality, gender, weight, height, and attractiveness, keep those legs closed and take some anti-Viagra...I realize there is no anti-boner pill, so I'll start working on that for ya.  

     My family members, that were born in China, are xenophobic to the point of being bigoted towards people who are not from the same city they are from.  I immigrated to The U.S. with my parents in the summer of '83.  Y'all know the story if you've read my previous blog.  Shortly after starting 1st grade that fall, my aunt, who had been living in Raleigh, NC since the 70's, gave me some advice.  She told me to make friends only with other Chinese kids.  A moment later she added white people were ok to friend but definitely not blacks.  The rest of my family agreed with her statements.  Well, there was a problem you see.  I was the only Chinese, and Asian, in 1st grade.  The few kids that verbally teased and abused me were white.  The black kids in 1st grade were some of the nicest kids in the school.  So yeah, I stopped listening to my aunt after that.  I tuned out all her brainwashing lectures.  I just sat quietly, nodded occasionally, and waited for it to be over.  Any lessons of morality, even if just, I wasn't going to learn from her or the rest of my family.  I had to build my own moral code from scratch.  During 2nd grade, my cousin George became a fundamentalist Christian.  He argued with me - a 20 something vs an 8 year old - about the existence of dinosaurs and try to convince me "naked" was 1 syllable.  I couldn't stand being evangelized to, especially because of all of the contradictions to science(and later finding out all the hypocrisies)...and I fucking love science.  I was and still am wary of all authoritative constructs.  

     I want to end on a happier note.  Show your kids love that they can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch as much as possible.  A tangible expression to them means so much.  Spending time with them is worth the extra bit of tired you feel.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Road Less Travelled...

     The music industry is rough and even more so if you're female and a minority.  Not everyone is built for this game as they say.  It takes strength: in one's convictions, of will, and of emotions to resist the constant pressure to conform to a particular sound & appearance and endure the mysogistic feedback of "listeners."  Today I want to highlight 4 women who stood their ground and metaphorically yelled, "THIS IS SPARTA!"  They forged their own path and make the music they wanted.  And because it's good, the people came to them.

1.  Janelle Monae:  Even though Ms. Monae is signed to a major label, she is a free spirit.  Her unique aesthetic style sets her apart.  You can tell music and performing are her passions.  Her album sells don't do her justice(this is true for all the women I'll be mentioning).  At least she is keeping her face and name in the minds of our ADD world through commericals(CoverGirl, Sonos).

2.  Alexis Brown:  The oh so friendly, inconspicuous frontwoman for Straight Line Stitch, becomes larger than life when she performs on stage(reminds me of Rapsody).  The petite scream queen of metal has the lungs of Paul Bunyan.  She'll headbang with her band 1 minute and serenade a kid the next(2 dads brought their daughters to the Straight Line Stitch show in Raleigh 2 weeks ago. Both little girls rocked out; it was adorable).  

3.  Jean Grae:  It's tough being ahead of the curve.  If somehow the abstract concept of a grading curve can be magically applied to every woman's real world intelligence and lyrical skill, Jean definitely would set the curve.  You are sure to dismiss my statement, but here's someone that can explain her genius:

4.  Rapsody:  If she wasn't showing people the beauty of hip hop through her music, I can see Rapsody directly teaching young kids about hip hop...or any other subject.  That type of positive connection between the older generation and younger generation of hip hop is what we need more of right now.

Wow, I'm proud of myself for not digressing during this entry, and I was prepared to rant.  

Until next time,
Stay TUT

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hip Hop for Adults

     It's Thanksgiving tomorrow in the U.S.  I thought I would be helpful, as well as update this blog.  So here goes...You, like video games and hip hop, are closing in on 40 years.  It's prostate exams, mammograms, and colonoscopies from here on out.  You stopped playing video games and listening to hip hop after middle school.  Now with mid life approaching, you want to relive your well as the cliche of buying a sports car.  None of your friends and family play video games or listen to hip hop.  What do you listen to and play to give you that nostalgic feeling without having to play or listen to the old stuff?

Phonte - First and foremost, he makes great music.  It just so happens that this over 30 year old's skillful lyrics are also relatable to those over 30.  Escapism and living vicariously through an artist's songs are fine, but a deeper connection is established with the listener if the artist is talking about something the listener is going through...also helps that both are in the same tax bracket.

9th Wonder & Jamla Records - Heavily influenced by the 90's Golden Era, they are forging ahead with strong, deep boom bap roots.  They bring you that warm feeling, like the first time you heard "Electric Relaxation." 

Part 2 - Video Games...coming soon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What in the world is an femcee?!

     The lexicon of our zeitgeist can be described in one word: dumb.  The abbreviations and misspellings that save the below average and average typist a few seconds lowers the collective IQ of humanity.  When the zombie apocalypse erupts, the kids that don't know how to properly label an envelope, but say "lol" in front of you instead of just laughing, will be the first to die.  The following 2 "words" are my current top offenders of the English language.

      Azn - I've had a long standing hatred of azns  Some of you might know my last rant on the faux word if you read my Livejournal years ago.  It's very, highly probable that "azn" was first typed by a non-Asian.  Well, I know for a fact that it was invented by white, marketing douchebags in the 90's.  How do I know?  Because I was there...Diddly-doot! Diddly-doot! Diddly-doot! (that's the Wayne's World flashback sound effect)

          Scene: Interior, Office
          Coked up Ad guy 1: Sup dude!  Thanks for coming today.

          Me: No problem.  So what's this all about?

          Coked up Ad guy 2: First off, we love Asians and the Orient.  My kid takes Tae Kwon Do.

          Coked up Ad guy 1, nodding his head in agreement: I only cheat on my fiance with Asian girls.

          Coked up Ad guy 2: We do feel though that the word Asian is...boring.  It's almost a new
                                            century.  It's time to hip it up.
          Coked up Ad guy 1: Asian needs to be EXTREME.  

          The execs hi-five each other, laugh, and do a bump.

          Me: I don't know guys.  Asian seems fine to me.

          Ad guy 1: Hey we're cool with it too bro.  Just hear us out, I think you'll like what we've 
                           come up with.
         Ad guy 2: So we dropped the boring s-i-a in the middle and replaced them with the most    
                          EXTREME letter.

          Me: X?

          Ad guy 2: No.  Z!  

          Ad guy 1: Z is 2 more letters more EXTREME than X bro.

          Ad guy 1 reveals the AZN poster.

          Me: Why am I sitting in a heavily modified neon orange Honda Excel?  And how?

          Ad guy 1: Oh it's new program our art department has called Photoshop.  It's amazing.  We can
                           manipulate photos with it.  We can make models even skinnier now!

          Ad guy 2: The car has been tricked out.  It looks fast doesn't it?  Totally extreme.

          Ad guy 1: Totally.

          Me: Cars aren't really my thing.

          Ad guy 1: Of course!  You're Chinese.  We'll change it to a bicycle.

          Ad guy 2: An extreme bicycle.

          Me: Look guys, I'm sorry.  I can't sign off on this change to the word Asian.  You're going to   
                  have a generation growing up even more confused and lost.  Azn is just...dumb.

          Ad guy 1: Well we're sorry you feel that way, but it's a done deal.  People are already typing it as
                           they chat on Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL.

          Me, as I leave the office: Thanks for wasting my time.

          Ad guy 1, as he sniffs a line of coke off of Ad guy 2's stomach: Anytime dude.

          Ad guy 2, lying on his desk shirtless: Later bro.
          End Scene

     There you have it folks - proof.

     Femcee - Really?!  It is the year of your lord, two thousand eleven.   Yet, you want to continue to make a distinction between females and males of the same occupation.  This is one of the drawbacks of English being rooted in the Romance languages.  That there must continue to be gender specific words is ridiculous.  Perhaps I'm being too harsh with "femcee."  How about a compromise?  In Chinese, the pronouns for "he" and "she" are spelled differently but pronounced the same.  If we make the "f" optional when written and silent when spoken, then it might be ok...I guess.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Wonder Year

     The good and the bad about my writing style is brevity, always has been.  I can't spend pages and pages describing a leaf like Tolkien or defending an argument like some lawyer.  All the way through 12th grade, I'd get notes back from teachers telling me to "describe this more" or "this needs more description," so I tried my best to elongate my essays.  When I sat down in ENG 111 at NCSU, my professor said to write concisely...motherfucker.

     As a "work in progress," the cut of The Wonder Year, the documentary about 9th Wonder, shown at this year's RiverRun International Film Festival, looked about 98% finished.  Director Kenneth Price will still make minor tweaks here and there, but according to him during the Q&A session after the screening, there will be no drastic changes to film's length.  Judging from the audience's reaction, Price has definitely earned his MFA.  You see, this documentary is also his master thesis at UNCG.  

      I can say so many good things about this documentary, but I'm lazy on top of being concise.  Everyone I knew, that was there to see the film, was extremely excited to see it on the big screen, for the first time.  There was a positive vibe in the 300 plus seat theater.  Even old white people, who were clearly not solely at the film festival to see The Wonder Year, were nodding their heads to 9th Wonder's beats.  Just like 9th chops a song and samples its best parts, Kenneth Price shows us fun, real, touching samples of a year of following 9th around with a camera.  In between mostly an interview with just 9th(although welcomed guest appearances do pop up from time to time throughout the film), Price laces that space with footage of 9th as a beat maker, teacher, father, and the man behind the moniker: Patrick Douthit.

     This is just the beginning folks.  With more screenings to come and possibly a college tour in the fall, You will see and hear about The Wonder Year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jeanne Jolly

     Jeanne Jolly is one of North Carolina's best kept secrets, because I should've heard about her before last month.  When not harmonizing with Phonte at Foreign Exchange shows, she leads an impressive career as a solo artist.  Her gentle, yet powerful, southern sweet tea voice is reminiscent of folksy Jewel at times with a hint cowpunk Mary Prankster.  Whether performing her original songs or covering country, blues,  Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, or Whitesnake, Jeanne sounds beautiful.  I bet she could even make Rebecca Black's "Friday" sound good. 

     The way Jeanne Jolly holds and plays her guitar fascinates me.  Guitar players I've seen, hold and strum the instrument with ease, showing their command and total dominance of a lifeless, inanimate object.  Jeanne, on the other hand, handles her guitar with care, as if it is a delicate baby that weighs a ton.  Each strum and pick takes effort like gravity is reversed and working against her.  There is such weight and significance behind each note.  I could be wrong about all this, and her weak ass just needs to hit the gym.

     You know, James Taylor wasn't born in North Carolina.  He doesn't even fucking live in North Carolina.  So why is his song "Carolina in My Mind" the unofficial anthem of North Carolina?!  It's time for an update!  From a true daughter of North Carolina who lives in North Carolina, Jeanne's "Falling in Carolina" should be North Carolina's NEW unofficial anthem.