Friday, March 28, 2008

'21': Why Hollywood Continues to Be Racist

I won't be going to see "21" and it's not because a review I just read compares the film to a "two-hour commercial for the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Bureau." And it's not because that same review called lead actor Jim Sturgess "not particularly interesting" and Kate Bosworth an "onscreen vacuum."

No, it's because I haven't been so offended by Hollywood since they cast David Carradine in the role of a wise Chinese sage and called it Kung Fu. (And look - they even got his eyes to slant up!)

"21" is based on the true story of a group of MIT students who made a ton of money in Vegas with an elaborate card counting scheme. In real life the two main players in the story are Jeff Ma and Mike Aponte, who are both of Asian descent.

That's right, and they are played in the movie by Bosworth and Sturgess. In case you hadn't noticed, neither of them are even close to being Asian. Thanks again Hollywood, for once again telling the world that Asians aren't even capable of portraying themselves.

I can't wait to see the Hollywood version of the upcoming Olympics in China, with Shia LeBouf playing the role of China's gymnastic team star and Richard Gere as a Tibetan monk.

Hopefully they'll have some roles for some actual Asians - maybe as a rickshaw driver, or a laundress, or a sushi chef, or, yes - a Kung Fu master! That is, unless David Carradine is up for the role.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Choosing Between A Dancing Mouse and a Stuffed Bear

I remember when Kiyomi was turning six and had decided that the only place she wanted to celebrate her birthday was Chuck E. Cheese's. Not looking forward to an afternoon filled with screaming, the pinging of video games and hair matted together with a combination of punch and cotton candy (not to mention that stage show with the break-dancing Mr. Cheese) I bravely suggested an alternative, something more, well - educational.

How about a trip to the museum, where her and her friends could visit one of the exciting animal dioramas and come face to face with a life-sized bear? It sounded exciting to me, even though the bear was stuffed and the only thing even resembling a video game in the whole place was the ATM machine in the snack bar.

By the glaring looks I got I realized that majestic bear didn't stand a chance against a stageful of lesser creatures doing the cha-cha. She won that battle, but that didn't stop me from making it a point to take my kids to 'smart' destinations once in a while, and I wrote about my favorite ones in Los Angeles for Kango this week:

I’m familiar with the reactions: the sad eyes, the whining, the frantic efforts to hide in the laundry room. No, I’m not talking about your cat when faced with a vet visit, but your children when you mention that you’ll be taking them to ‘somewhere educational.’

Sure, you’ll get more cheers for Chuck E. Cheese’s, but sometimes it’s nice to take the kids somewhere that teaches them more than how quickly a roll of quarters can disappear when you’re mesmerized by a large waltzing mouse. Here are some of my favorite ‘smart’ destinations in Los Angeles. I’ll bet they’ll forget all about that dancing rodent...Read More...

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brainetics Can Make You Smarter and Fun At Parties

I was recently asked to review a product called Brainetics, a DVD learning system designed to help children in grades 4 through 7 master math and language skills. Seeing as my kids spend about 90% of their waking hours in front of the TV, I was hoping for something besides a DVD to sharpen their math chops - something more low-tech, like an abacus or a stone tablet with carved roman numerals. But I found the program to be pretty effective, and I may have even learned a thing or two...Read More...

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

'Autism: The Musical' is Awesome, But (Really) Don't Take My Word For It

autism-the-musical-hboI was talking to a friend recently and as is my habit these days I started going on and on about "Juno," how it was my favorite movie and how great it is and how it - yes, this is the best part - it was written by a blogger! Which for some strange reason failed to elicit an overly enthusiastic response from my friend - I think her actual words were, "Really? And it was good?"

A few days later she told me she had finally gone to see the movie (something about needing to shut me up) and when I asked her how she liked it I could tell it hadn't quite measured up to my psychotically-glowing, overly-fawning, bordering-on-unnatural-love review.

I tend to do this, glom on to something and then yammer on about it incessantly, beating it to death until everyone around me is just plain sick of hearing about it and eventually develops an aversion to whatever it was that I was trying to sell them on in the first place. It's happened with movies, books, songs - even my totally amazing not to be believed tabbouleh salad, which now makes everyone roll their eyes when I approach the table with my big Moroccan bowl. It's a special power I posses that I haven't yet figured out how to use for good and not evil.

Which is why I don't dare say how wonderful Autism: The Musical, a documentary debuting tonight on HBO, really is. I don't want to do my usual over selling by urging you to make sure and watch this amazing story of Elaine Hall, the single mother of an autistic child who is determined to put on a musical comprised entirely of children with autism and who succeeds with flying colors. So don't listen to me when I tell you that you must watch this heartbreaking, heartwarming, funny, sad, enlightening and brutally honest program tonight, even if means skipping your pilates class or - gasp - missing American Idol.

And I won't even try and convince you further by telling you that I went to a screening of the film and saw a live performance by the talented kids from the show and they really are that amazing, even in that spontaneous setting. And don't let me influence you by telling you how I cried through practically the entire movie and performance and even saw Kevin Charnas, who was sitting next to me, dab at a moist eye.

Because really, I don't want to jinx it. But if you watch it I promise never to mention "Juno" again.

AUTISM: THE MUSICAL premieres tonight on HBO at 8pm

(For those of you without HBO, they will be live-streaming it on their website.)

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is That a Pastrami Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

I love food. Eating it, cooking it, watching it being prepared, shopping for it - why, Rigel sometimes accuses me of being more excited to see a steak than I am about seeing him. I told him that's totally untrue, that I'm always happy to see him but would be freakin' ecstatic if he were laying sizzling on a plate, covered in a nice peppercorn sauce and accompanied by some garlicky mashed potatoes.

But while I certainly appreciate a fine meal, there's nothing like sitting down with an amazing burger, beautifully nestled in its grease-stained cardboard box and holding court next to a nine-thousand-calorie chocolate shake. Which is why I decided to write about my five favorite dives in Los Angeles for Kango this week. Also, it gave me another chance to take a dig at Trout Lady:

Here’s something to do when you’re stuck dining with one of those unbelievably obnoxious “foodies” who not only finds it necessary to “teach” you the correct pronunciation of each item on the menu but then insists on giving you a breakdown of every ingredient in all the dishes, from the gruyére to the légumes.

I like to pose a question to all the guests, who, like me are now practically comatose from the yammerings of our food-nut. What is your favorite dive in town? Where would you go if what you were craving wasn’t a fine fricassée with a nice cabernet but a greasy taco and a wax cup full of Coke? I like to watch everyone come to life as they regale their tablemates with tales of legendary double-decker burgers and homestyle empanadas. Then I like to watch our pretentious friend fume over our lowbrow conversation...Read More...

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Going Green in L.A.? Doesn't Always Mean Driving a Prius

corned-beef-and-cabbage-st-patrick-s-dayMy latest post is up at Kango. This week I was asked to write about how Angelenos might celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Is this a holiday? I've always figured that if it didn't have its own, two-aisle special section at Target it wasn't worth celebrating. But come to find that there is plenty of Irish revelry scheduled for March 17 here in Los Angeles, and a lot of it centers around beer. Not that I'm complaining.

(I have no idea who this guy is in the picture. But I just discovered this new thing called Google and you can find lots of interesting crap with it!)

I have to admit St. Patrick’s Day is not a big holiday around our house. Although it should be, seeing as my husband is something like one-eighth Irish, along with some Scottish, English, Polish, and a certain allegiance to Australia since most of his relatives are there. Add to that my Japanese ancestry, and you can see how celebrating all of our cultures would be a little daunting. I think the most Irish thing my husband has ever done is hang an air freshener in his car that was shaped like a four-leaf clover...Read More...

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Butt Hurts Just Thinking About It

Every now and then I start to feel bad about myself and the fact that I don't get out more. For instance, there was that one day last week when I didn't even set foot outside the house until it was time to pick up the girls at school, and even then I pulled a half-pajama maneuver, stayed in the car and used my cell phone to summon them to the van. It's crazy behavior, and if this keeps up I'll be one of those sad women you see at the the grocery store, wandering the aisles in their bathrobe and arguing about produce with their imaginary friend.

But then I see a headline like this, and I start to feel a whole lot better about myself.

Woman Sits On Boyfriend's Toilet For 2 Years

Apparently a woman in Kansas literally sat on a toilet for two years. Her boyfriend finally called the sheriff last month to report that "something was wrong" with his girlfriend, that maybe hanging out on the pot for 730 days straight just may be out of the realm of normal behavior. He says he brought her food and water, and "asked her everyday to come out of the bathroom."

I'm wondering if he asked her nicely, or did he use that hostile tone that most men use when they want their girlfriends to come out of the bathroom after two years. For instance, did he say, "Honey, do you think you could come out now" or did he say, "Bitch, get your fat ass off that crapper." It makes all the difference in the world.

The story goes on to say that the woman's skin had grown around the seat. “We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital,” the sheriff said. “The hospital removed it.”

And then I started to sympathize, since sometimes the only way I can get even a minute to myself is if I'm in the bathroom, and even then I'm in constant fear that someone will burst in needing homework help or asking for gum. Maybe this woman just had a really, really rough day, grabbed a stack of Oprah magazines and a 60-pak of toilet paper and decided to head on in for a little 'me' time.

(You can read the entire story here.)
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tags: | woman on toilet for 2 years!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Come See For Yourself How Short Ryan Seacrest Really Is

My latest post is up at Kango. I wrote about American Idol this week. Not so much about the obsessive hold the damn show has on me and my girls, but about what you can expect if you're kind of crazy and decide to come to Hollywood and try and see a live taping. It's not something I'd really want to do, since half the fun is sitting on the couch and shaking our fists at the screen and shouting things like, "You suck" or Kira's favorite line, "OMIGOD I TOTALLY HATE HER." I don't think you can do things like that if you're in the audience.

If you happen to stop by my house on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 8 and 9:30 and you’re not delivering a pizza, chances are you’ll be left standing at the door. Okay, maybe my husband will answer, but he’ll be under strict orders to get rid of whoever is there as soon as possible. This is because me and my two daughters cannot be disturbed while we’re engaged in that most noble of American pastimes: Heckling the performers on American Idol...Read More...

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Nose Would Start To Itch

I'm sure most of you have already seen this, in which case you can stop reading right now and go back to sipping your coffee and surfing porn. But I was amazed by the whole thing, not so much for its grand scale and its artistic merit, but because I really can't imagine standing still for that long without sneezing, or coughing or starting to drool onto my shirt.

Don't try to tell me you weren't thinking the same thing.

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