Found Objects and Harold and Kumar

The folks over at Significant Objects are bringing a whole new meaning to the words, “found objects.”

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The curators find a bunch of objects (for under $2) at garage sales, thrift stores, on the street, etc., then commission a writer to invent a story about the object–giving it a history, a life, a past, a “significance.”

Then, the objects are sold on e-bay. 

I like it.  I’ve sort of always loved found things.  Re-appropriated, re-made, re-contextualized.

In other news, Harold and Kumar are both respectively, well, in the news. 

John Cho is featured in Asian Pacific Arts and talks about how he used to be an English teacher during the day and act in plays at East West Players at night.  Kal Penn quit his sweet gig on House to work as Associate Director in the Office of Public Liason for Obama’s administration.

It seems to be our imperitive as Asian Americans to be overachievers.
Or to die trying.

Me, I’m more of an underdog than an overachiever.  But my nose, oh yeah, it’s to the grindstone.

Putting the Soul back in Samurai

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Have you seen Soul Samurai yet?

If not, you should.

Qui Nguyen and Robert Ross Parker create a symphony of blaxploitation meets Kurosawa bloodbath in this epic tale of Dewdrop, running through the streets of a war-torn NY to lay vengence on the gang who slayed her true love.  I feel like we have forgotten the Aristotelian element of theater that is what makes it different from TV and everyday life: spectacle.  And they do it like no other in smart, funny, touching ways.  Maureen Sebastian is a stellar hero for the new millenium as Dewdrop, Paco Tolson gives heart and soul to Cert, her sideman and John Hoche, Bonnie Sherman and Sheldon Best wield steel and flesh out multiple characters with ease in this post-apocalyptic tale of love and loss.  And man, Nick Francone can build a world out so that we see subway tunnels, broke down store fronts and our beautiful boroughs on a single stage.

I loved it.  They’re open one more week and they’re selling fast.

After not being able to tell people about Telephone because I was an idiot and went on closing, I vowed to tell people to see things that are moving right now.  Because sometimes it feels like art is all we have right now.

Year of the Ox and Ox Blood Doc Martens

Do you like Chinese food?

If you don’t, chances are because you aren’t actually eating Chinese food.

Check out this talk from Jennifer 8:

My favorite things about this Chinese New Year:

1.  My friend Rach ran up and whispered “Happy New Year” to me today and flashed me her red shirt.  I flashed my own red shirt back.
2.  My friend Ed Lin was sporting some good lookin’ Ox Blood Dr. Martens (I swear that’s what they call them)  at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop’s Lunar New Year Countdown last night.  And he read the funniest work ever about his memories of childhood Chinese new years, drinking Shop Rite orange soda, having his mom pocket his red envelopes and having to play Fur Elise for all the old people.
3.  It’s the year of the Ox.  That’s my year.  Oxen are steadfast,  hard working, slow to change–basically, beasts of burden.  I suppose now is as good a time as any for us to be in the year of the Ox.  Because guess what?  Obama is a fellow Oxen.

Ching-chong

But, color me shocked to say that, I got ching-chonged in class today.

So, in my other life, I am a teaching artist in schools around the city.   At just about every corner of this wide and beautiful city, to almost every last stop of every subway train.  Schools showered with accolades and citywide attention and schools that are more ignored, but children everywhere.  I’ll also say that because I’ve never liked formality, I have usually asked them to call me Carla.  But, I’ll bend to the culture of a school and that the one I went to today, they use Mr. _____ and Ms. ______, so I obliged them.

But, color me shocked to say that, I got ching-chonged in class today.

“Everyone, can we all say thank you to Ms. Ching for doing this workshop with–”

“Ms. Ching-chong.  Ching-chong.”

“What did you say?”

Sigh.

I haven’t heard that in a long time.  A very very long time.  Which given my name, I guess surprises me.  But, it’s New York.  It’s a pretty multicultural, pan-ethnic city.  It’s the US.  We’re still glowing because we elected Barack Obama president.  The man with midwestern and Kenyan roots, raised in Honolulu.  Come on.

Double sigh.

When I have heard homophobic, racist or misogynist comments come out of the mouths of high school kids, I let ’em have it.  Because they know better.  And because they can take it.

It is my gut reaction when I hear comments of this nature.  To let the other person have it.

He is a fourth grader.

He is mimicing things he’s heard without even knowing what they mean.  This is what I tell myself.  When it comes to children–actually, the big ones and the small ones–I am an eternal optimist and eternally patient.  The reverse of how I am with adults.  So I look at him steadily.  He is smiling.

“You know, when people say, ‘ching-chong, ching-chong,’ they are usually doing to to make fun of Chinese people.  Because they think the language sounds funny.  But, I don’t think you mean to make fun of me, do you?”

He looks at me with wide eyes and shakes his head.

“So, just Ms. Ching will be fine, thank you.”

“Are you Chinese?”  “Konichiwa!”  “Where are you from?  You look like one of those Los Angeles people?”  “I’m learning Chinese, I think it’s a beautiful language.”

And here comes the rainstorm of curious questions of young children who haven’t known a lot of people like me.  So I answer them in shotgun style, checking the clock on the wall to see if I can get to them all before the bell goes.

“Yes, I’m Chinese.”  “Konichiwa is Japanese.”  “Actually, that’s funny, I am from LA.”  “Chinese is beautiful and it’s super-hard, so it’s awesome that you’re learning it.”

And I close the class and thank them for working with me.

And the little boy who “ching-chonged” me walks over.  “I’m sorry,” he says.

“That’s alright,” I say.

I smiled at him to let him know it was okay.  He smiled back.

I charged off to my next class.

***

Oh, I should mention that this happened two other times in a different class.

“Ms. Ching-ching.  Ching-chinga-chinga–”

“Just once, thank you.  One Ching.  Ms. Ching.  That’s it.  Thank you.”

The Ma-Yi Writers Lab at the Asian American Writers Workshop

My compadres at the Ma-Yi Writers Lab have written a bunch of plays inspired by notable titles from the shelves of the Asian American Writers Workshop. There’s free ice cream and beer.  And the playwrights are doing the acting, so it should be some fun.

Fall 2008

Events this season sponsored by:
singha cicf
Singha Beer and The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Thursday, December 4, 7pm
An Evening with the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab

Come for an exciting night of eleven short plays–all written between Thanksgiving and December 3rd just for you! The Workshop and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab have commissioned eleven Asian American playwrights to write short one-act plays using titles from the Workshop’s library for inspiration.Join the following members of Ma Yi, the largest collection of Asian American playwrights ever assembled, for an unpredictable night of theater: A. Rey Pamatmat, Nora Chau, Nandita Shenoy, Dustin Chinn, Eugene Oh, Mrinalini Kamath, Lloyd Suh, Qui Nguyen, Michi Barall, Patricia Jang and Jon Kern.

@ The Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor
(btwn Broadway & 5th Avenue)

$5 suggested donation; open to the public