Monday, June 27, 2011

Cliff Chiang: Boy Wonder of the DC Universe

Originally posted at Pop Culture Shock.


Sorry for the confusing headline. Not trying to imply that Batman has a new sidekick. At least, not yet. As far as I know, Damian Wayne is still going to be Robin in the all new, all different DC Universe this fall. That said, the controversial, yet still eagerly anticipated, reset of the entire DC Universe has some fans scratching their heads, and others drooling over the creative teams announced to navigate the new DC landscape. One of those drool-inducing teams is writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang at the helm of the new adventures of the Amazon princess herself in this September's Wonder Woman #1.

Though he couldn't divulge any classified information about what's actually going to happen inside the covers of the comic, Chiang was able to discuss what makes Wonder Woman such an enduring icon as well as why Diana would make for a badass rock star. Also discussed: Cliff's love of '80s music and giant robots. Not necessarily in that order.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh, Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong, Oh?

I have to admit. When I first saw Alexandra Wallace's "Asians in the Library" YouTube rant, my initial reaction wasn't outrage. Instead, I thought "Wow, that's a really tight tank top." Maybe it was cutting off the circulation to her brain?

But many of my friends in the APA blogosphere were outraged by Chesty McRacist's rant, and in recent days, it became fodder in mainstream news outlets from ABC News to the New York Times. And now Snooki 2.0 is a multimedia personality! I'm sure it won't be long before she's a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars." Hell, since the third year poli-sci major is both blond and vapid, Roger Ailes is probably drawing up a Fox News anchor contract as we speak.

And that's been my issue from the jump. Sure the original video was offensive and stupid. But before a few days ago, no one knew who "Alexandra Wallace" was. Now? Everyone knows who she is. No such thing as bad publicity, ya know?

Fortunately, there are a couple of silver linings in the whole "Asians in the Library" flustercluck. First of all, it elicited this response from musician Jimmy Wong, which is probably the catchiest song of 2011 so far:

I hadn't heard of Jimmy prior to "Ching Chong Means I Love You." But now, his video and song is becoming a viral sensation in its own right. Seriously, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Jimmy's YouTube channel. You'll be glad you did!

The other YouTube response that is worth disseminating is this brilliant persona poem by my main man Beau Sia:

Instead of rebutting Wallace's anti-Asian rant with a snarky rant of his own, Beau's poetry not only explores what goes on in Alexandra's mind, but contemplates the sense of entitlement and resentment that permeates much of the country's discourse about race.

So thanks Alexandra Wallace. I didn't want to link to your idiotic anti-Asian video, but your idiotic anti-Asian video has inspired some great work from some of our best Asian American artists. And for that, I'm grateful.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Waiting for Superman: The Beginning of the End

Originally posted at Pop Culture Shock.


If you haven't heard, all new episodes of Smallville return tonight at 8pm EST on The CW. What? You thought Smallville returned last week? Well, there's a reason why The CW isn't a real network.

Anyway, barring any last minute scheduling changes, tonight's Smallville marks the start of the final push towards Clark Kent's red, blue, and yellow destiny. Since I've been a fan of the show from the beginning, I figured I'd use this space to talk about the show that single-handedly reinvigorated my love for the Superman universe. So what better way to kick off a weekly Smallville column than by discussing the casting of Henry Cavill as Superman? Wait, what?!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm a Chinese Parent, Raised by Chinese Parents...

...and I think Amy Chua's book is full of crap.

Wow! There are so many things I want to comment on after reading that excerpt... I'll just do it stream of consciousness because there are so many things to unpack in Chua's book and in the reactions of the APA blogosphere over the weekend.

First off and full disclosure, while my parents were first gen immigrants, my upbringing was decidedly not the result of stereotypical "Chinese parenting." My parents always encouraged me to get good grades, but they never discouraged me from choosing my own activities. For instance, I never even touched a piano or a violin growing up. In fact, when it was time to pick an instrument in a fifth grade music class, I went for the drums so I didn't have to learn to read sheet music!

The first thing that struck me after reading the excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal was that Chua seems to have a whole lot of time on her hands if she's spending all those hours being such a hardass. My parents worked such long hours everyday that, even if they wanted to chain me to a piano, there was no way 1) we could afford a piano, and 2) that they had enough free time to worry about me practicing the piano.

See, I grew up in a small rural town in the south and my parents worked 14 hours a day, six days a week at the family restaurant. So I grew up in a working-lower-middle-class home. My memories of parental pressure didn't involve hours practicing scales or memorizing elements of the periodic table. Instead, their expectations primarily revolved around me helping out at the restaurant if I had any free time. This isn't to say that I was a bad student. I was an okay student. In elementary school, I was part of the Gifted and Talented program, and I took honors and AP courses throughout high school, but I was also encouraged to play sports, make friends and enjoy life as well. I even brought home the occasional C (mostly in math and science, go figure) and the house didn't crack in two.

I actually look back on my childhood warmly and fondly. I was surrounded by uncles and cousins and grandparents who all had a hand in helping to raise me. I remember sitting in the restaurant's back office watching "Wheel of Fortune" with my grandmother and great grandmother (neither knew a lick of English, but loved watching the contestants react to winning or losing on the TV), play basketball with my uncles and football with my cousins on the weekends, even, god forbid, had sleepovers at friends' houses! In fact, the first time I encountered the stereotype of the overbearing Chinese parents--probably in something written by Amy Tan, I couldn't relate at all. The idea was foreign and exotic to me. Which is probably why people love reading about it so much.

So, three-and-a-half years ago, I became my own "Chinese" parent when my daughter was born. Early on, my wife--who came to America from Japan when she was a high school freshman--agreed that we would provide our daughter opportunities to be successful, but that we'd never force them on her. And in her first three years of life, she's already taken more "lessons" than I did my whole childhood! Most recently, she's been enrolled in a Developmental Dance class for toddlers at the university where my wife works; she takes soccer lessons at her daycare, and took infant swimming lessons her first two summers. A few months ago, her daycare started giving her homework--which usually involves coloring something or tracing a letter or two--once or twice a week, and occasionally my wife attempts to help her recognize hiragana. All of these activities do not come at the expense of playtime, or trips to the library, or eating meals as a family, or just spending quality time together.

Ironically, I was having dinner with my father a few weeks ago and the topic of my parenting skills came up. Believe it or not, my dad thought that I was a little too strict. His reasoning? I didn't let her watch television. "That's not exactly true," I told him. My dad was basing his conclusion on the fact that the television is usually off when they come over to visit. And to be honest, what's the point of visiting your grandkids if they're preoccupied with the tube the whole time?

Even when YeYe and GaGa (that's what my daughter calls her grandmother. It has nothing to do with the meat-dressing pop star) don't visit, it's true that we limit the amount of TV she watches, because trust me, she could definitely stare at Kai-Lan or Dora for hours if we let her. Heck, that would probably make it easier on us too. Ya know, Nick Jr. is a heckuva babysitter. Instead, we have a pretty standard routine: after she gets picked up from school, she usually spends the early part of the evening playing with her toys with one of us while the other gets dinner ready. Then, when dinner's served, we all sit together and talk about her day. After dinner, she picks up her toys before we sit on the couch and fire up an episode of Dora the Explorer or Micky Mouse Clubhouse (thank god for DVRs). After that, and a discussion about what she just watched--usually facilitated by her--it's upstairs for a bath, a book (actually two), and bedtime. Plus, hugs, kisses, and "I love yous" before lights out.

See, my Chinese mom and dad think that's "strict." And "Chinese mother" Amy Chua probably thinks that I'm incompetent. I like to think that it works. Our daughter's healthy and happy. What more could we ask for?

FYI, this is cross-posted at Rice Daddies.

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