oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

shades of ray; andy suzuki

Shades of RayI just finished watching “Shades of Ray,” which turned out to be one of those movies I couldn’t even try to give an objective review of because it is about being a mixed race (South) Asian American. There are so few narratives (filmed or written) I’ve encountered that are consciously centered on mixed race Asians, which means that the minute I do find one, I’m smitten with the mere idea of it. That said, “Shades of Ray” did receive some critical acclaim at festivals, so maybe there isn’t pure self-indulgent fluff behind my two enthusiastic thumbs up.

The main character, Ray, is a half-Pakistani, half-white self-described “mutt.” (I remember my grandpa’s reaction when I labeled myself that in his presence at around nine years old. It was the one time he ever spoke to me in an angry tone of voice). Ray is in love with a white gal, Noelle, who doesn’t say yes right away when he proposes because she has to convince her parents to accept a non-white fiance. (Uh, why this was not a double red flag in the first place is unclear to me… his love is a bit too blind). In the meantime, Ray’s Pakistani dad thinks he made a mistake after three or so decades of marriage to Ray’s white mother, and is pushing Ray to find a “nice Pakistani girl.” Ray acquiesces to a blind (family) date with a woman his dad recommends in return for his dad making an effort to patch things up with his mother. Sana, the “nice Pakistani girl” turns out to be, in fact, half and half just like Ray. You can tell where this is going. Of course, it wouldn’t be feature length unless Ray was all conflicted about who he’s meant to be with.

Anyways, I loved “Shades.” (Spoiler alert) It indulges what could be a commonly held fantasy amongst mixed people like me that a deeper understanding and connection can be found with a mixed partner. “You get me. And I don’t even get myself half the time,” Ray says to Sana. Maybe fantasy is the wrong word. Hope?

One small thing that made me smile (granted, I was a smiling idiot the entire film) was the use of Priscilla Ahn’s “Are we different?” during a scene when Ray is talking to Sana. Ahn is half Korean, half white (I’ve blogged about her before on here). Did the film’s writer/director, Jaffar Mahmood, mixed like his protagonist, include Ahn on purpose? Yay, either way. (Another thing I liked: Fran Kranz, of Dollhouse, as Ray’s roommate).

Hearing Ahn prompted me to check my music blogs (I can’t kick this tendency to have two screens going–TV and computer). Via A-tunes.net, I read about Andy Suzuki, an unsigned talent who I’m happy to add to my list of hapa musicians to follow. Check out this utterly sincere video from his blog about the inspiration behind his song, “300 Pianos:”

There’s another video about Andy trying out for American Idol. Definitely interesting for anyone who ever wondered about the audition experience, as well as a testament to the fact that Idol has a minuscule quota for actual talent (ya ya, no shit, i know). Final note: Just putting it out there, but imho he’s a no-brainer for a Disgrasian Babewatch post… Disgrasian is my new favorite blog, by the way. Read about the bloggers behind it in Hyphen’s latest issue. Here’s my favorite post so far:

http://disgrasian.com/2010/02/best-of-craigslist-teach-me-how-to-kiss/

**end stream of not-s0-consciousness**

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asian gals w. guitars

Well, not just guitars–pianos, too. Regardless, I tend to ❤ them. Here are a few:

Priscilla Ahn. So lovable, no? ‘Living in a Tree‘ is actually my fav song of hers, but I wanted to bring attention to a-Tunes.net, which alerted me to ‘The Boobs Song,’ as well as this next artist.

Jane Lui. I want a homemade music box.

Kina Grannis. Like Jane, a born-digital star via YouTube. (They’ve toured together, actually). She entered the video of her song, “Message from Your Heart,” into a contest that won her an airing during the Superbowl and a record deal.

Zee Avi. Yet another “YouTube sensation.” Aw.

Meiko. Meiko’s a quarter Japanese–she and her sister adopted Japanese names, kinda the way I replaced my middle name with my Grandma’s maiden name to get some filipina-ness in there. Kina and Priscilla are half (Japanese and Korean, respectively). So are Rachael Yamagata and Norah Jones. Represent, MIRAs. Yes, still pushing the hapa replacement label. Deal with it.

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multiracial asian north american book list

I readily admit that my being a mixed race Asian American has prompted a slew of related obsessions, one of which is finding and reading books by and about other people like me.

Aside: You may notice that I am not using the work “hapa” in the title or body of this post. Ever since reading an article in Hyphen MagazineRethinking Hapa by Wei Ming Dariotis–I’ve attempted to instead employ (unfortunately looong) substitutes such as “mixed heritage Asian,” “Asian-descent multiracial,” and so on. Also, I’m saying “multiracial asian north american” in this post title because the list, which I promise I’ll get to eventually, includes American and Canadian authors

Aside #2: So we need a replacement for hapa that has no sense of appropriation or ickiness. How about MIRA (MIxed Race Asian)? Too forced with the “I?” Hmmm… Let it marinate, as they (slash Kissing Jessica Stein characters) say.

Ok, for real for real, here’s my list-in-progress of MIRA (indulge me) books:

  • My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and everything else written by my current idol, Ruth Ozeki, who I forgive for never responding to my email telling her so.
  • On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad
  • Mixed: An Anthology of Short Stories on the Multiracial Experience, edited by Chandra Prasad, and including a story by Ruth Ozeki as well as a slew of other people whose writing should be required reading for, well, everyone.
  • Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
  • Where the Long Grass Bends and short stories by Neela Vaswani
  • Sum of Our Parts: Mixed Heritage Asian Americans, edited by Teresa Williams-Leon and Cynthia Nakashima (this is a collection of awesome academic essays)
  • Not a book, but a super short must-read: Dr. Maria P. Root’s Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People.

…more to come!

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