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.  


Monday, February 21, 2011

I Love the 80s F.O.B. Edition Part 5

     I lived within walking distance of my elementary school(shout out to J.Y. Joyner).  My dad would give me a ride if it was raining heavily.  During second grade, there was a particularly heavy rain morning.  My dad tied plastic bags over my sneakers to keep them dry and drove me to school.  When I got there I noticed it being awfully quiet...and deserted, outside and inside(had the zombie apocalypse started?).  When I got to my room, it was empty except for my teacher.  She told me school had been cancelled because of flooding roads.  The school buses couldn't get to all the stops.  The day had been turned into an optional teacher workday.  Well, my dad had already left wouldn't be able to come back and pick me up.  She was nice enough to let me stay.  She brought me a morning snack from the cafeteria and explained to me what our class would have studied that day.    I got a head start on what would be the next day's school work and completed some of it.  I saw her light up a cigarette.  She told me not to tell the class she smoked.  Keeping me from being bored, she let me help her grade some papers and staple together handouts.  Then she took me to the library.  One of my classmates was there.  She was the daughter of one the teachers.  It was around lunch time that she decided to drive me home, but not before taking me to McDonald's for a Happy Meal.  I never saw her in the same light after that day.  She would be my favorite teacher until middle school.  Thinking about her now, she was cute.  She probably only had been teaching a few years(in her mid 20s).  The next year while waiting in the lunch line with my third grade class, I saw her walking in with her second grade class.  We waved and smiled at each other.  She was quite pregnant. 

     When I told my parents what had happened at school, they were very surprised.  School cancelled because of rain?!  It was such a foreign concept to them.  My teacher advised me to listen to the radio on mornings of bad weather for school delays and cancellations.  Luck would have it, that winter, I got to experience my first snow day :)

     What made me think of the story above was last night.  The Foreign Exchange held a free private concert for about 30 of their fans.  I'm calling it "Unplugged" show.  The way you got to go was RSVPing to an email address and getting picked at random.  I didn't get picked, so I jokingly bitched about it on Facebook and Twitter.  Next thing I know, Phonte is messaging me.  I worked out a deal with the woman of a thousand hustles, Aimee Flint.  I could come to the show if I helped set up, greet the guests, and sale merch.  So here I was, 24 years later, feeling like a kid on that rainy day again.  I got see the men and women behind the artists, like I got to see the woman behind the teacher that day.  

to be continued...

Never say never...

"Never meet your heroes.  They will disappoint you."

"Be your fan's number 1 fan."

     I stopped worshipping celebrities around the time of the OJ trial.  That was also the same time I started hating the media...cable news in particular.  Hmm, what a coincidence.  Nowadays with social media, there's even more of a false sense of connection that fans have with their "heroes."  Kids are spoiled these days.  They can read Lady GaGa's twitter feed 24/7 and get images of her off the web instead of waiting for their latest issue of Teenbeat or Seventeen to arrive in the mail.

     Sometimes though a real connection forms, and the social contract of fan/customer and merchant/entertainer changes ever slightly to acquaintance with mutual interests.  And if you're really lucky, friendship/brotherhood or sisterhood.  People like Questlove, Jon Favreau, Felicia Day, Kevin Smith, 9th Wonder, Phonte, who interact with their fans through forums, twitter, etc., build something real beyond the virtual and impersonal space of the www(Even if some celebrities fake it, they and their publicists have fooled me).  I really appreciate and respect those that invest in their fans like that, because people's time and energy are important and to spend it talking with your fans goes a long way.  Hopefully, the dividend is fans buying tickets and merchandise.

     To disgress even further and cynically break it down for the streets, hos that come up to your car and ask, "are you looking for a good time baby," and strippers who just ask, "Do you want a dance," aren't gonna go as for as hos that give you that girlfriend experience or strippers that sit down and chat with you first.  They're in the service industry, so customer service with a friendly smile is key.  You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes.

     Ok, enough rambling.  My point is my "heroes" haven't disappointed me.  One factor is that I can't really watch, read, or listen to something that someone has created without respecting them.  I know you have seperate the art from the artist, but I can't do that all the time.  A perfect example is Kid Rock.  I bought Devil Without a Pause on a whim, months before it became popular and catapulted Kid into stardom.  Then one night, I saw him on Jay Leno.  He wasn't a guest(not famous enough yet) but was interviewed during a Jaywalking segment.  Leno asked him some North American geography and American history questions, and he didn't know the answers to any of them.  I stopped listening to Kid Rock after that.  I don't have time to deal with fucking idiots.

     On the other hand, I still listen to Kanye West even with all his flaws.  My feelings on the Taylor Swift incident is analogous to those that support the troops and not the war.  I obviously feel bad for young Ms. Swift, but I wasn't mad at Mr. West for running up on stage.  Without contemplating too much about the situation, it was a funny award show moment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Love the 80s F.O.B. Edition Part 4

     Before I had access to cable, which would not be until 1987, I had very few opportunities to experience hip hop.  After "Planet Rock" and Herbie Hancock's "Rock It," it would be about 2-3 years before I heard Run-D.M.C.  Should I count The Fat Boys?  I would fill that gap with radio, and the radio played a lot of synth.

     The other music radio played was anything by Michael Jackson.  

     Michael would be the most entertaining human being to me for a few years(close to all of elementary school). Sure, I can get into his whole "Jacko" persona but I don't think I can write a better piece about MJ than Phonte of The Foreign Exchange: My Hero Ain’t Molest Them Bitch Ass Kids.

to be continued...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Love the 80s F.O.B. Edition Part 3

     Kids' brains are like sponges.  Put some stimuli(or bombard them) in front of them and they'll soak it up.  Learning a second or even third language is easy when you're young.  My best English teacher was television :P

I watched everything on TV.  Back then, there were only about 6 channels in Raleigh.  My parents didn't restrict what I could watch(too busy trying to obtain The American Dream, priorities man), so I got to see violent R-rated movies and the cheesy sex scenes of prime time soaps before a lot of other kids.  I'm so glad my parents weren't restricting in that regard.  I got all that testosterone filled, frat boy popcorn trash out of the way early, so I could have more of my life to enjoy dialogue, cinematography, score, and editing in films.  You know, real artsy fartsy shit.

to be continued...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Love the 80s F.O.B. Edition Part 2

      So amidst the Star Wars craze of the summer of 1983(I didn't go anywhere without my Kenner Luke Skywalker action figure), two other interests would eventually death grip my attention, and they  have yet to let me go.  My cousin George took me to a few kids' outings of the local Chinese church.  There were two memorable events.  One was a picnic at a park, and the other was a party at a roller skate rink.

     The roller skate rink changed my life.  It was there where I played my first video game and heard my first hip hop song.  I was timid and shy around strangers, and the speed at which people zipped by me on skates made me afraid to try skating.  So I stood near the rink and observed(an activity I became good at doing).

     I noticed some machines with blinking colors off to the right of the rink.  I asked one of the chaperons if I could go over there.  He told me you'd have to cross the rink and for that you'd need to put on skates.  "Huh wha," I thought.  "Can't I just walk around the rink," I continued pondering perplexedly. (Who lets an idiot watch over a bunch of kids?)  I eventually went over to the fascinating machines when some other kids wandered over there.  There it was in all its glory - Pac Man.  My time on it was short and sweet as I only had one quarter.  Afterwards, I just observed the others play.

     So there I was, soaking in the sights and sounds of Joust, Galaga, and Donkey Kong when the whole place ERUPTED.  "Planet Rock" came over the rink's speakers and everyone went bananas.  People started dancing and skating at the same time even more so than previously .  There was breakdancing and popping and locking on sides of the rink.  I was a natural and enthusiastic imitator, so I went home and practiced what I saw and heard.  When I heard Fat Boys and Doug E. Fresh sometime later, I would start trying to beatbox. In 7th grade, people were amazed at how fast I could do it.

to be continued...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Love the 80s F.O.B. Edition Part 1

     My memory of my life before coming to America is in black & white.  Maybe it's because most of the photos of the first six years of my life are in black & white, so that has affected my perception.  Only movies and TV I remember watching in Shanghai are still in color in my mind.  Going to the movies was a very special occasion.  I can only recall going to a theater twice.  Both times, it was to see Jet Li's Shaolin Temple.  

     After arriving in The U.S., my first media consumptions would greatly affect my life.  It was June of 1983 when my parents and I came to Raleigh, N.C.  Each parent grabbed one of my hands, and I was lead off the plane.  My nose was gushing blood.  I tried to tell them, but they didn't hear me.  They rushed off the plane with me in tow like it was going to explode or about to take off back to China.  We lived with my cousin, George, who was attending N.C. State.  I think he was trying to get every engineering major.  He took me to my first American movie: Return of the Jedi.

     I didn't understand any English and had no idea what was going on story wise but loved the movie.  Even though The Empire Strikes Back is a better film, Jedi still holds a special place in my heart.  And speaking of Empire...about 6 years later, that was the next Star Wars movie I watched.  I caught the last third of A New Hope during a free preview weekend of premium cable channels, but Empire was the second Star Wars movie I saw in its entirety.

     The next movie I was taken to was Octopussy.  My aunt was a big James Bond fan.  I understood a little more English by the time we went to theater to see it, but still not enough to follow the plot.  All I cared about were Q's gadgets.  Roger Moore was James Bond for me.  It wasn't until years later that I discovered Connery's Bond and agree with the consensus that he was the best Bond.

     How could I have turned out as a geek?  Well, the aforementioned is a big part of the answer.

to be continued...