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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esna yoon

i love everything about this video–the gal, the song, the lighting, the framing and direction. hell, even the font. It’s the tasteful work of The Mighty Fifty, “a creative group of talents that revolves around all aspects of production.” Check out their site, the design and functionality of which I also love.

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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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it was all a dream

So, time for some shameless self-promotion. And Biggie adoration, too!  I recently saw the new biopic Notorious.  Check out the review here.

Even though I knew B.I.G.’s biopic was going to be a bit of a bust, the trailer made me hope.

But even if the movie doesn’t measure up to the music, I’m glad the Notorious B.I.G. got his own tribute.  It’s about time for some parity.  No offense meant to Tupac, of course–it’s hard to compete with his charisma and otherworldly beauty on the hip hop memorial circuit.

It’s just too bad that the film didn’t give Biggie his due (and gave a lot of credit for what he did do to producer Puffy, or P. Diddy, or Diddy, or Sean Combs, or whatever name he chose right after the credits rolled).

Let’s not give any more credit to the industry that Combs has built on Biggie’s legacy. Instead, thank him for rapping (and thanking Brooklyn)…

…and enjoy his songs. They always take me back.

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if you’re ever feeling frustrated…

Have a little scream, like so…

And then listen to Metric’s new album, Fantasies.  Favorites: Help, I’m Alive, Gimme Sympathy, and Collect Call.  Here’s an acoustic preview for ya:

Go to their site to download free tracks, listen to the rest and order the digital album (if, like me, you can’t wait until April 14).  It’s beyond amazing.

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heavy rotation round up

1. Curs in the Weeds by Horse Feathers

2. Let Me See You by Girl Talk

3. Desert by Emilie Simon

4. Cappuccino by The Knux

5. Other notables: Explosions in the Sky and The Submarines

In other musical news, I’m beyond pumped to be going to the 2009 Sasquatch Festival in May. The venue:

Yup. See you there?

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news, recession blues roundup

So, there are a lot of amazing and informed writers out there, and I’m loathe to summarize what they’ve put out on the interweb this weekend. So I’m gonna let them do the talking today! Note: All of these subjects deserve endless amounts of discussion; the length of these summarizes is not meant to be dismissive. But the writers, artists and politicians mentioned below have already done the original thinking.  So please click, and respond, and hopefully we’ll continue discussing them here.  Three issues today:

1. The recession puts (or rather, keeps) women in the workplace, with backlash potential: Emily Bazelon sums it up.  But one, actually great, point: men are distressed by their female partners’ job losses.  Which is a great indication of respect for those jobholders.  And the opt-out trend is being exposed as a myth. Finally.

2. Immigrants in America are being worked to the bone, in industries ranging from meat-packing to harvesting to sheepherding.  Dan Frosch’s article highlights a slightly different angle than the one of overcrowded sweatshops we’re used to: the image of the isolated immigrant worker.

On a related note, watch Chambao’s “Papeles Mojados” for a Spanish take on the desperation that drives (and kills) those immigrants attempting to reach Spain, only to be treated as disposable workers until deportation.  The title and lyrics of the song refer to wet papers–the lost documents of immigrants who have drowned on the boat voyage from Morocco and other parts of Africa to the south of Spain. La Mari’s singing evokes the anger of the worker forced to swim to better work, and the unspeakable sadness of the realization that her companion has not survived the crossing.

3. There are psychological tests for hidden racial bias, and as Charles Blow shows, the results aren’t that surprising.  But I think we should respond to Eric Holder’s call for a more dramatic increase in the study and appreciation of black history without being afraid of confrontation, anger and hurt.  He is right when he says that “in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” We’re not in a post-racial age; if black officials can’t tell the truth like this, then Obama’s election will just be a comfortable stopping point for liberal America.  This is the chance to push it, not to stay comfortable.

4. Ok four. I lied. But we’ll be discussing the return of indulgences later! Yeah, that’s right. Indulgences are being granted in NYC churches. TBC, beezies…

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bee’s song rec of the [sporadikos]; notes

Bi-Pet by Lali Puna. Thanks, as usual, to Lee, for sending me this one. When he first told me he had my musical taste “to a T” after a brief listen to my favs playlist on my iPod, I thought he was arrogant. He was just telling the truth, as it turned out.

Completely unrelated notes:

Many, many congrats to my dear love, Angela, on getting her dream job at the JET Foundation. This girl is on a direct and speedy-ass path to making the entire world a better place. For real. I yearn (and secretly plan) for the day when I work for her.

Check out this tumblr documenting the development of a very cool project, “with lovers and friends,” born out of the ridiculously and prolifically creative mind of my friend, Ian. Also, watch hjónaband.

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a soothing song

to calm the nerves. Nothing hits the spot quite like Maria del Mar, of Chambao, performing here with Jarabe de Palo.

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one song, two uses

for dancing and/or make-out fun the night before:

for cuddling or other activities in bed the next AM:

rinse and repeat.

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