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Cutest Video Ever: Best Friend by Jason Chen

Jason Chen, Best FriendMy daughter, Music Lovers, said that this was the cutest video ever and then insisted that I watch it. She’s completely right. You must watch it.

He also sings it in Chinese, but we like the English version better. Could be because we don’t understand much Chinese. What do you think of Jason Chen?

Best Friend is on iTunes here.

Click on image to view at Amazon:

Chinese version

 

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Help Make The Real Mikado (A Feature Film) Real

Joyce Wu, The Real Mikado, Asian American ActressMy name is Joyce Wu and I’m an Asian American writer, actress and filmmaker.  I’m currently an MFA candidate in film production at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and I’ve directed several short films that have won awards and screened at festivals around the world.

I’m getting in touch with you today to tell you about my newest feature film. It’s called The Real Mikado and you can check out the campaign here.

The film is about an out of work Asian American actress in New York who runs out of money and moves back in with her parents in the suburbs of Detroit.  The town is facing a budget crisis and wants to shut down the community theater.  She agrees to direct a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado to try and save it. It’s a fun but poignant coming-of-age comedy. Right now, I’m working on securing funding via the IndieGoGo platform. I think we can all agree it’s about time for a film featuring an Asian American character who isn’t just an ethnic side kick or massage parlor worker.  The prospects in Hollywood for a film with a female protagonist (much less an Asian American one) are grim and this movie needs the support of the community so it can be produced independently. Any help you can give to this film would be greatly appreciated.  I know how busy you must be, so thank you for taking the time to read this and for checking out the project.

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Nylon Pink: Big Bang, Next Bangles?

My oldest who is 12-years-old has her own music blog, and her idea for this band is to make an animé music video. It’s not a bad idea!

Girl bands are rare in music and Nylon Pink is truly unique because of their raw talent: they not only sing, and play their instruments, they also write and produce their own original material.

Nylon Pink, Asian American band, girl band

Vote for them here: Choose Blue, band and date added and we will be on the first page: Nylon Pink – “BLUE” BIGBANG – (Cover by @nylonpink) BLUE by BIGBANG by NylonPinkOfficial.

To check out at Amazon, just click on image:

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Some Asians’ college strategy: Don’t check ‘Asian’

Asian Americans don't check Asian, college applications, race questionTao Tao Holmes, daughter of a Chinese mother and white father, chose not to check “Asian” on her Yale application. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
December 4, 2011Lanya Olmstead was born in Florida to a mother who immigrated from Taiwan and an American father of Norwegian ancestry. Ethnically, she considers herself half Taiwanese and half Norwegian. But when applying to Harvard, Olmstead checked only one box for her race: white.”I didn’t want to put ‘Asian’ down,” Olmstead says, “because my mom told me there’s discrimination against Asians in the application process.”For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it’s harder for them to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges’ admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population, and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.

The way it works, the critics believe, is that Asian-Americans are evaluated not as individuals, but against the thousands of other ultra-achieving Asians who are stereotyped as boring academic robots.

Now, an unknown number of students are responding to this concern by declining to identify themselves as Asian on their applications.

For those with only one Asian parent, whose names don’t give away their heritage, that decision can be relatively easy. Harder are the questions that it raises: What’s behind the admissions difficulties? What, exactly, is an Asian-American — and is being one a choice?

Olmstead is a freshman at Harvard and a member of HAPA, the Half-Asian People’s Association. In high school she had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and scored 2150 out of a possible 2400 on the SAT, which she calls “pretty low.”

College applications ask for parent information, so Olmstead knows that admissions officers could figure out a student’s background that way. She did write in the word “multiracial” on her own application.

Still, she would advise students with one Asian parent to “check whatever race is not Asian.”

“Not to really generalize, but a lot of Asians, they have perfect SATs, perfect GPAs, … so it’s hard to let them all in,” Olmstead says.

Amalia Halikias is a Yale freshman whose mother was born in America to Chinese immigrants; her father is a Greek immigrant. She also checked only the “white” box on her application.

“As someone who was applying with relatively strong scores, I didn’t want to be grouped into that stereotype,” Halikias says. “I didn’t want to be written off as one of the 1.4 billion Asians that were applying.”

Her mother was “extremely encouraging” of that decision, Halikias says, even though she places a high value on preserving their Chinese heritage.

“Asian-American is more a scale or a gradient than a discrete combination . I think it’s a choice,” Halikias says.

But leaving the Asian box blank felt wrong to Jodi Balfe, a Harvard freshman who was born in Korea and came here at age 3 with her Korean mother and white American father. She checked the box against the advice of her high school guidance counselor, teachers and friends.

“I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of trying to hide half of my ethnic background,” Balfe says. “It’s been a major influence on how I developed as a person. It felt like selling out, like selling too much of my soul.”

“I thought admission wouldn’t be worth it. It would be like only half of me was accepted.”

Other students, however, feel no conflict between a strong Asian identity and their response to what they believe is injustice.

“If you know you’re going to be discriminated against, it’s absolutely justifiable to not check the Asian box,” says Halikias.

Immigration from Asian countries was heavily restricted until laws were changed in 1965. When the gates finally opened, many Asian arrivals were well-educated, endured hardships to secure more opportunities for their families, and were determined to seize the American dream through effort and education.

These immigrants, and their descendants, often demanded that children work as hard as humanly possible to achieve. Parental respect is paramount in Asian culture, so many children have obeyed — and excelled.

“Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best,” wrote Amy Chua, only half tongue-in-cheek, in her recent best-selling book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

Read More…

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Kristy Lin Jewelry with Discount for JadeLuckClub Readers!

I love the simple but playful silver jewelry by Kristy Lin.Like this Monsieur ring … it’s rings stacked up but look at the rings when they line up. Can you see it? Yes, it’s a face!
Kristy Lin JewelryMonsieur Stack Ring Set, $275
Kristy Lin jewelryEar Ring, $95
Blood Red Heart Ring, $88
How Kristy describes her line:
It’s inspired by films, conceptual art, and the human preoccupation with beauty.   I’m a young Asian-American designer that recently launched earlier this year.  Collections feature unconventional yet refined rings, earrings and bracelets that are effortlessly combined with surrealism and a high-end aesthetic for something a little quirky and a little classic.  All pieces feature sterling silver, and 14 or 18K gold.  Made in NY, NY, with recycled metals.
She is giving JadeLuck Club readers a special 15% discount.Please use promo code jadeluckclub. Click here to shop at her site.
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Discover Viennie V: Next Katy Perry?

On iTunes.
In Viennie V’s latest video “For You,” she finds herself in the midst of an outrageous dating show on her hilarious quest for true love. Watch as she saves her dates from drowning, choking and falling before finding sweet love on a rooftop at sunset.

Viennie V’s sweet single “For You” is #50 on Mediabase’s published Top 40 Chart! Being on the same list as music greats such as Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift is an amazing honor. As an Asian American musician, Viennie V is proud to represent the Asian community on the music charts. She is a prime example of how lifelong dreams can become reality with hard work, determination, and passion.

Viennie V, For You

“Follow your heart and happiness will follow!” -Viennie V

Please continue to show your love for Viennie V by requesting “For You” at your local radio stations and spreading the word to friends and family.

Viennie V’s site is here.

Check her out on Amazon by clicking on image.

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Top 10: Favorite Asian American Children’s Book Around Food

Jo Jo Eats Dim SumThe pleasures of eating and how food brings people together. This is a concept that is very strong in countries with a strong food culture: the French, the Italians, and of course, pretty much all Asian countries!

The themes in all these picture books and chapter books ring true. Ethnic food that bonds a family into our culture can also isolate them. Our Asian ethnic food is “weird” or “stinky.” In rejecting our food, we feel rejected or at least, on the periphery, longing for “American” food to be like everyone else.

But then that miracle happens, when our food is accepted, enjoyed and even requested. Our complicated relationship food, it turns out, is not so different from any other nationality obsessed with food. And the result is similar — food as pleasure. Family bonded around the dining room table. And meal after delicious meal to build memories around.

Picture Books

Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park

A wonderful paperback picture book about the joys of family and food, from Newbery Award winning author Linda Sue Park.

Bee-bim bop (“mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells of helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and sitting down to enjoy a favorite meal. The enthusiasm of the narrartor is conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean-American family. The book includes Linda Sue’s own bee-bim bop recipe!

Henry’s First Moon Birthday by Lenore Look

Jenny’s baby brother Henry is having his one-month birthday — his first-moon, as it’s called in Chinese. And even though Jenny’s sure he doesn’t deserve it — all Henry does is sleep, eat, and cry — there’s a big celebration planned for him. Together, Jenny and her grandma get everything ready, from dyeing eggs a lucky red to preparing pigs’ feet and ginger soup. And someday, when Henry’s old enough to appreciate all her hard work, Jenny will tell him how lucky he was to have her in charge.

The childlike charm of Lenore Look’s story is perfectly captured in Yumi Heo’s naïve illustrations, which give readers the impression that Jenny drew them herself.

Jo Jo Eats Dim Sum by James Kye

Jojo Eats Dim Sum is the first in a new and exciting series of children’s books with the aim of introducing children to the joys of various Asian cuisines. The star of the book is Jojo, a young girl with a sense of adventure and a daring appetite. In stark contrast is her baby brother, Ollie, who prefers to eat pea soup at every meal. The story encourages children to be more open to foods that are unfamiliar, thereby opening doors to other cultures. In Jojo Eats Dim Sum, Jojo eats her way through some of the most popular dim sum dishes, culminating in chicken feet, which are unfamiliar to most Westerners or unappetizing to those who have encountered them. But Jojo loves chicken feet, as she loves most dim sum dishes. Each story in the Jojo Eats series leverages a fun narrative to carry the young reader through the culinary journey, which is interspersed with lessons on how to pronounce foods in the local language. Jojo Eats Dim Sum is an irresistible book that children will want to read over and over again. Each beautiful book is in the shape and size of a menu, adding to the charm of Jojo’s culinary adventures.

Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet Wong

No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July, I say. We’re in apple-pie America, and my parents are cooking chow mein! . . . They just don’t get it. Americans do not eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July. Right?


Shocked that her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell in the family store on this all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese-American girl tries to tell her mother and father how things really are. But as the parade passes by and fireworks light the sky, she learns a lesson of her own.
This award-winning author-illustrator team returns with a lighthearted look at the very American experience of mixed cultures.

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Mmm, Yoko’s mom has packed her favorite for lunch today—sushi! But her classmates don’t think it looks quite so yummy. “Ick!” says one of the Franks. “It’s seaweed!” They’re not even impressed by her red bean ice cream dessert. Of course, Mrs. Jenkins has a plan that might solve Yoko’s problem. But will it work with the other children in class?
Now in paperback for the first time, this tender story from Rosemary Wells demonstrates the author’s uncanny understanding of the pleasures and pains of an ordinary school day.
One of my all time favorite books. Ever!

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

It’s easy to appreciate a garden exploding with colorful flowers and fragrances, but what do you do with a patch of ugly vegetables? Author/illustrator Grace Lin recalls such a garden in this charming and eloquent story.

The neighbors’ gardens look so much prettier and so much more inviting to the young gardener than the garden of “black-purple-green vines, fuzzy wrinkled leaves, prickly stems, and a few little yellow flowers” that she and her mother grow. Nevertheless, mother assures her that “these are better than flowers.” Come harvest time, everyone agrees as those ugly Chinese vegetables become the tastiest, most aromatic soup they have ever known. As the neighborhood comes together to share flowers and ugly vegetable soup, the young gardener learns that regardless of appearances, everything has its own beauty and purpose.

The Ugly Vegetables springs forth with the bright and cheerful colors of blooming flowers and bumpy, ugly vegetables. Grace Lin’s colorful, playful illustrations pour forth with abundant treasures. Complete with a guide to the Chinese pronunciation of the vegetables and the recipe for ugly vegetable soup! Try it . . . you’ll love it, too!

Asian American Advanced Picture Book

Where Food Brings Everyone Together (after realizing that no one is going to freak out about the “weird” food.

 

Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi

When Yunmi’s class plans a picnic in Central Park, her Korean grandmother, Halmoni, agrees to chaperone. But Yunmi worries that the other children will make fun of Halmoni’s traditional Korean dress and unfamiliar food.

Asian American Chapter Books with Food Themes

 

Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent

Kimchi and calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, and it’s exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn’t an adopted Korean drummer—comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given:

(1) his face in the mirror

(2) his proud Italian family.

And now Joseph has to write an essay about his ancestors for social studies. All he knows is that his birth family shipped his diapered butt on a plane to the USA. End of story. But what he writes leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of shattered dishes—and self-discovery that Joseph never could have imagined.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

It’s the papaya tree and fruit that remind  most of what she’s lost since it’s not available in ber new home in Alabama. Sometimes food memories are like that. They link us to our past and remind us of what we’ve lost.

 To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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Asian Estrangement: YA Novel Money Boy and Music Video Run Away Train

If Money Boy by Paul Yee were a song, it would be Run Away Train by Alexander Jung.

Money Boy, Paul Yee

And vice versa.

Rapper Alexander Jung’s Run Away Train track made me think immediately of Paul Yee’s critically acclaimed and award winning young adult novel, Money Boy. If a book could have it’s own sound track, it would be Run Away Train. It’s not just teen angst but the real deal, at least if you play it while reading the book, about being thrown out of your house when you are a teen for being gay. And then trying to make it on the streets as a prostitute. Gritty reality. But at least it has an anthem.

If Money Boy gets made into a movie, this is my choice for the soundtrack!

Money Boy by Paul Yee

Ray Liu knows he should be happy. He lives in a big suburban house with all the latest electronic gadgets, and even finds plenty of time to indulge in his love of gaming. He needs the escape. It’s tough getting grades that will please his army veteran father, when speaking English is still a struggle. And he can’t quite connect with his gang at high school — immigrants like himself but who seem to have adjusted to North American life more easily. Then comes his father accesses Ray’s internet account, and discovers Ray has been cruising gay websites. Before Ray knows what has hit him, his belongings have been thrown on the front lawn, and he has been kicked out. Angry, defiant, Ray heads to downtown Toronto. In short order he is robbed, beaten up and seduced, and he learns the hard realities of life on the street. Could he really sell himself for sex? Lots of people use their bodies to make money — athletes, actors, models, pop singers. If no one gets hurt, why should anyone care?

I found this gritty young adult novel riveting to read and sadly realistic. I can picture an Asian American dad freaking out in the same way to discover his child’s homosexuality and react by throwing him out of the house and onto the streets. It’s an important book that explores the fringes of Asian American life that isn’t front and center as a “Model Minority.” Tiger parenting is not just demanding top grades from your kids, but also that they fit a particular acceptable mold. And when the child can’t or won’t comply, the consequences are dire.

Paul Yee’s excellent young adult novel is recommended for ages 14 and up. To view it more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

• A Stonewall Honor Book, 2012

• “Yee’s sophisticated juxtaposition of immigrant narratives with questions of sexual identity is compelling and poignant.” — School Library Journal

• “Yee’s latest offers insight into the city’s immigrant-Chinese and gay communities…sure to invite both thought and discussion.” — Booklist

• “Paul Yee’s novel is a valuable intervention into the representation of gay and lesbian experience in the young adult genre.” — CM Magazine

 

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The Slants: Their Trademark Saga Continues

The Slants, The Slants trademark

It was nice to get an update from Simon of The Slants on their trademark filing. He’s the one in front.

This is Simon with The Slants. I just wanted to take a moment to give you an update on what’s been happening with our trademark filing.

First, I wanted to thank you again for your willingness to help in this matter. I can’t tell you enough how much this means to me as an Asian American who is fighting for equal rights. It’s been nearly two years but we are still continuing the fight. As I go through the Trademark Office’s records once more, it’s interesting to see that of the 50 trademark applications containing the term “slant,” ours is still the only one that they’ve raised the issue of it being a racial slur (every other applicant who was not of Asian descent experienced no questions or doubt at all).

In our most recent appeal, we sent over 700 pages of evidence. From expert testimony showing the history/use of the word to a national survey of Asian Americans, letters of support from respected API activists, support from API media, and much more, it was an unbelievable collection that reflected thousands of hours of work. However, the Trademark Office expressed no interest in seriously considering anything from the Asian American community but instead dismissed all of the evidence presented because they believed it would be more politically correct to do so. Because our band is associated with a proud form of Asian American activism, we were struck down.

Since then, we’ve teamed up with a new attorney to assist us. We have reapplied using a different tactic and are working our way through the system again. I believe that we have a long road ahead of us but it’s an important one for the community. Some day, all of us will be able to look back and see how this case contributed to changing history for all minorities who have suffered the inequities of outdated laws.

Thank you again, I hope to send you some good news soon.

Regards,

Simon Tam

 

The Slants are the only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world.

Kicking off the band’s career at a tiny dive bar in Portland, OR, The Slants soon found themselves on tour and in demand worldwide performing at music halls, colleges, and anime conventions. Within months, they released their debut album “Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts” winning multiple awards from the likes of Willamette Week, Rockwired, AsiaXpress, and the Portland Music Awards. Since that first iconic show in 2007, The Slants have been cited as the “Hardest Working Asian American Band” (slanteyefortheroundeye.com), toured North America ten times, rejected a million dollar recording contract, were the first and only Asian band to be a Fender Music artist, and according to U.S Congress, the first rock band to play inside a state library.

The Willamette Week, summarizes The Slants’ history perfectly: “It’s a great story: All-Asian synthcore troupe lands anime festival, achieves instantaneous notoriety from overpacked fireball-laden maelstrom, inspires John Woo and Dragon Ball Z fans toward aggro electro and—just months after its first practice—books gigs across the globe. As shadow-warriory as the Slants’ rise has been, it’s still all about the tunes, and the band’s debut—floor-filling synth pop bristling with all the menace and grandeur of its oft name-checked cultural icons—is propulsive, cinematic and impossible to ignore.”

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Infectious Dance Group Aziatix: The Next 98 Degrees?

Aziatix

 AZIATIX releases their newest music video for “Nothing Compares to You,” an infectious new dance track from the Japanese release of their debut album Nocturnal.

Congrats to Aziatix for signing huge record deal with Cash Money Records worth $11.3 million!

 Click to view at Amazon

Hot off winning the award for Best New Group at the international Mnet Music Awards, Aziatix drops “Nothing Compares to You” as a tribute to their fans who had made their incredible rise to international stardom and success possible.

Have you checked out this super talented group?

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