Sunday, December 24, 2006

Efren and Santa

Efren and Santa
Originally uploaded by AiYahh.
Ho ho ho?

Seafood Bi Bim Bop in Stone Pot

Seafood Bi Bim Bop in Stone Pot
Originally uploaded by AiYahh.
Dinner on 12/22/06 at Wang Dae Gam, a good Korean restaurant in SF (5th Avenue between Geary and Clement in the Richmond). Good stuff. :)

A filling vegetarian dinner! (is that possible?)

Dosa with Potatoes
Originally uploaded by AiYahh.
Went to Saravanaa Bhavan, a chain of south Indian restaurants that recently opened up in Sunnyvale (on Fremont & Mary) on 12/23/06. Great vegetarian food, guaranteed to fill you up. I got a lunch combo plate, and it was totally filling. Do south Indians really eat this much all the time?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Asian Americans, music and reality TV...

So I just found out that Yul Kwon won the newest Survivor, which got me thinking about the abysmal record of Asians on American reality TV series, most notably the American Idol-ish ones.

Considering that Yul Kwon (from what I've seen the past few days on various mags and TV shows since I've refused to watch Survivor and its other shows in any other setting) is really hot, hunky, and smart, the fact that he's Asian probably won't affect how Survivor is set up the next time around, especially since he has other things to fall back on, and he's guaranteed to win his million bucks. Survivor, even with its short-lived, potentially interesting but ultimately disappointing experiment in racial dynamics, rewards those who are able to play the game--as long as they're fluent in American social dynamics, Kwon's winning shows that ethnicity isn't that significant a factor in determining the winner.

However, just thinking about American Idol and how the Asian Americans have performed--most notably Jasmine Trias, and also running into Harlemm Lee, it irritates me that there's still a belief (however true it may be) that Asians can't sell records in the US if they're pop-oriented. Jasmine Trias, while finishing 3rd in American Idol, has become a big star in her native Hawai'i and in the Philippines, yet barely registered a blip when her record came out a couple years ago on the mainland.

I've also noticed that there haven't been any really noteworthy Asians to make it to the finals in American Idol the past couple times, although they've figured relatively prominently before, even though Hawaiians called and texted in their votes when a Hawaiian is featured in the finals (nearly 5 votes per Hawaiian resident, or 5 million texts or voice votes when Jasmine Trias was in the top 3).

Harlemm Lee is a guy I've known for over 10 years after my coming out in LA, who's also won the first (and only) Fame reality TV series, and has since faded into obscurity after being told essentially point blank that he wasn't going to sell any records in the US because he's Asian. Chatting with him last night over dessert and tea in the Castro, he spoke with frustration and resignation about his being screwed over by not getting the contract that he won as part of his package for winning Fame. He's still trying to get his music out there, and is featured on, but at the same time, as he spoke, he knew that the odds were really stacked against him--how is a 30+ gay Asian American man singing R&B going to make it in US pop?

It burns me up to see that this guy who's worked so hard to do what he loves get continually screwed over because of the racism that's inherent in pop culture. Yul Kwon, by being the model minority, being the "strategic, soft-spoken" guy, will earn his 15 minutes of fame, then go back to being a highly paid management consultant since that's what we Asians do best. Harlemm, on the other hand, is still trying to be taken seriously, doing what he does, and yet will probably never get the big break he truly deserves.

If you're reading my blog, check out his CD or another CD by an Asian American artist. Start bugging your radio stations to include more Asian American artists. Put their songs on your myspace profiles.

Do something.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dreamgirls. Wow.

So I was invited to watch Dreamgirls with the husband tonight. I didn't have a lot of high expectations of the movie, primarily because Beyonce isn't exactly the greatest actress, nor is she really the greatest singer.

But I found myself after the movie liking it. Really liking it for a lot of different reasons. The movie itself was refreshing because it's the first movie musical I've seen in a long time that wasn't associated with Andrew Lloyd Webber, which in itself is noteworthy.

The acting was pretty much spot on--and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of restraint Beyonce had throughout the movie. Beyonce, as the 21st century version of Diana Ross, could have played the role to the hilt, and tried to take over the movie. She plays Deena perfectly, as a woman forced from the background into the spotlight, an unwilling participant and pawn in Charles' (Jamie Foxx's) game of American musical domination. The other actors were just as amazing, though Jamie Foxx seemed to be the most disappointing, as his face seemed to be stuck in only one expression no matter what emotion he was supposed to be feeling, and his singing ability pales to almost everyone else in the movie, including Eddie Murphy (!!!). The chemistry between him and Beyonce was also the least believable, but Beyonce is able to pull off the tenuous relationship better than Foxx is.

The best surprise was Jennifer Hudson who plays Effie. Considering what I've heard about Jennifer Holliday being the original Effie, Hudson quietly yet firmly takes hold of Dreamgirls and makes it her own. She is able to fill in the shoes of Jennifer Holliday quite well, and her singing amazes in "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" even if her acting is a little stilted in that scene. Her acting and portrayal of Effie as the woman left behind as the Dreams take off is the glue that keeps the movie going.

There are some things that hold the movie back from being the blockbuster that it should be--I had trouble visualizing Eddie Murphy as the James Brown character until the very end, and there are some parts that are relatively slow. But overall, the movie is a wonderful surprise, and definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

This is why I don't play video games at the Metreon...

So I was hanging out with a friend of mine in the Metreon in SF, and the Playstation Store there had the game Singstar (essentially Sony's version of Karaoke Revolution, but with actual videos of most of the artists). Some dorky Asian guy who didn't realize what the game was, chose Aretha Franklin's Respect, then freaks out because you have to start singing, and leaves.

I decided to try it out, start singing, and I end up getting the high score for that song. After the song is over, I hear clapping and look up--and realize that the entire store heard me sing.

It was kinda cool, but kinda embarrassing too. Oh well.

Oh yeah, I also got Snoopy vs. The Red Baron too. It's actually pretty decent for a flight sim. And Snoopy and Woodstock are the main characters!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thoughts post-World AIDS Day...

I didn't even really think about it this year, except for the fact that the husband wore his Gap BO(RED) shirt to work today.

Well, I guess that's not entirely true. I had fleeting moments when I was alone, and trying not to think about the cold that's quickly leaving my body and my wanting to sleep but couldn't, where I thought about how it's really affected me personally.

I thought about all the men I've had sex with since I lost my virginity at age 19. I know of only one or two that have become HIV+ and wonder how many of them get tested, or have tested but haven't disclosed. I think of the few close calls I've had, the brief irritation and relief that I had had syphilis in the past but had been able to fight it off, knowing that I wouldn't have been able to if I had gotten HIV.

I think about the times where I had the frame of mind to stop in the heat of the moment to grab a condom. I also think of the times where I didn't.

I think of all the wonderful friends who've had the balls to be out about their poz status, and who've taught me lessons in humility, love and friendship. I think about how I've become comfortable with talking about people with HIV. I think about how most of the time, their HIV status is there and not acknowledged.

I think of all the friends I've lost, the friends who've gotten sick, the people who I knew briefly who died, buried behind a cloak of shame.

I think that I've been lucky to remain HIV negative, and knowing that I will always have to be vigilant to stay that way.

And I remind myself that in my own way, that the fight against HIV, the fight against its social stigma, the fight that has killed my friends, my acquaintances, my tricks, is not yet over.

And that we all have to fight together.