Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hawaiian man strips down for graduation

KALA KAAWA thought long and hard about what he wanted to do but he thought it was important to do it - take off his black robe when he graduates from the University of Hawaii.

He didn't want to ruin the serious commencement ceremony for the other graduates but it was important to him to demonstrate his pride in his Hawaiian heritage. He texted his mother to warn her beforehand so she wouldn't be shocked at her son's brazen act. She texted back, "Think about it."

When his name was called, he doffed the traditional robe and mortarboard cap to reveal his traditional Hawaiian loincloth, a malo.

He was surprised at the reaction of the audience. Read about it here.

It certainly didn't hurt that --- as a young man unmarred by any physical ailments -- he was in top physical condition. Just take a close look at the reactions of the women in the audience.

It is a growing tradition among students of color that they display something that says something about their ethnic roots. A lei is popular among Asian Americans. Oftentimes, the colors of Africa or Mexico will be in the stole worn by graduates, 

Kaawa told the Huffington Post's Carla Herreia he wanted to use the traditional Hawaiian malo garment to remind people "not to be ashamed of your culture, whether you are Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, etc." and to "know your roots, represent and perpetuate!

"Not just for yourself, but for your family, your ancestors and the future generations of your culture."

There's a lesson there for all of us, eh, brah'? 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Slain Asian American cop was pursuing the American Dream

NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, left, and Wenjian Liu.

SLAIN POLICE officer Wenjian Liu was pursuing the American dream says his family when he and his partner Officer Rafael Ramos were killed by a mentally imbalanced man who ended up taking his own life. Before ambushing the NY police officers on Dec. 20, he had earlier shot his girlfriend.

Ramos' funeral was held last Saturday (Dec. 27) and was attended by over 23,000 police officers from across the country and Vice President Joe Biden.

Liu's funeral was finalized Sunday. It will be held next Sunday, 10 a.m., at the same funeral home where Ramos' funeral was held. It took longer to plan Liu's funeral because arrangements had to be made for relatives to fly in from China.

The 32-year-old Liu had been with the force for seven years and was married October, 2014. He was supposed to be off duty that day but volunteered for on duty after Ramos' regular partner couldn't report to work.

UPDATE: What was pathetic was the reaction to a news video of the Liu family at a news conference. Reaction was racist and called the family reaction phony. Just, so-o-o pathetic! Here's a thought-provoking piece by Joan Walsh on the epic white backlash.
According to a statement provided by the Liu family, Wenjian Liu came to the United States on Dec. 24, 1994, when he was 12 years old. The Liu's traveled thousands of miles "to seek the American dream from Canton, China" and in search of "a better life for the family."

NY Mayor Bill De Blasio has been roundly criticized by the NYPD rank and file for statements he made immediately after the grand jury decision on Eric Garner,  who was killed by a police officer using an illegal choke hold.

A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the officer and that sparked nationwide protests which came on the heels of a similar grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

De Blasio, who is married to an African-American woman and have bi-racial kids, said he had to advise his son how to act when interacting with police. NYPD officers took those statements as being anti-police and inferred that he encouraged anti-police action. There had already been tension between the mayor and the police prior to the Garner decision.

During Ramos' funeral last Saturday, thousands of police officers turned their back on the mayor as he spoke. The New York Times wrote an editorial blasting the police tactic of politicizing an event meant to be a solemn tribute to one of their own.

"That funeral was held to honor Officer Ramos, and to bring politics, to bring issues into that event, I think was very inappropriate and I do not support it," said Commissioner Bill Bratton on CBS' Face The Nation. "He is the mayor of New York. He was there representing the citizens of New York to express their remorse and their regret at that death."

Vice President Biden and his wife Jill visited Liu's widow and family after delivering and emotional eulogy during Ramos' funeral.

The officers' deaths had been linked to the Garner and Brown protests because of reports that the killer, who had a long police record, had been angered at the grand jury decisions sand anti-police statements on his Instagram account.

The families of both Brown and Garner condemned the shootings and condemned any violence - either against police or during the protests.

Police supporters have created the hashtag #NYPDLivesMatter to counter the #BlackLivesMatter. In actuality #AllLivesMatter. 

Garner, Brown, Ramos, Liu - and the killer, too -- are all the victims of fear and hate, victims of the uniforms they wear, or the color of their skin, victims of our country's polarization into red and blue, haves and have-nots or the us-vs-them mentality that divides us.

Perhaps, Police Commissioner Bratton said it best:
“The police, the people who are angry at the police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a madman who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms, even though they were so much more. We don’t see each other. If we can learn to see each other, to see that our cops are people like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them, too. If we can learn to see each other, then when we see each other, we’ll heal. We’ll heal as a department. We’ll heal as a city. We’ll heal as a country.”


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Family struggles after a police grenade lands In child's crib

Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh and Bou Bou.

I WAS planning to post some seasonal videos on Christmas Eve to reflect the Season of Peace, but instead, 20/20 aired this story last week and my plans changed.
Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh never imagined their family would be at the center of a controversy over the militarization of police. But that’s exactly where they found themselves when their toddler was seriously injured by a Georgia SWAT team, also leaving them with a $1 million medical bill they have no hope of paying.

“They messed up,” Alecia Phonesavanh told ABC News' "20/20." “They had a faulty search warrant. They raided the wrong house."
UPDATE: Family settles for $1 million settlement
When a Habersham County SWAT team raided what they believed to the house of a drug dealer, they threw a flash bomb into the house - right into the crib of 19-month old Bou Bou  Phonesavanh.

Police prepared for the worst based on bad intelligence. They were told there were arms in the house and there were no children. 

Just outside the door which they busted in was the family mini-van with its four children;s booster seats and the pictures of the kids on the dash.

Bou Bou right after the blast.
It all came about because a drug task force had been looking for Bounkham Phonesavanh’s nephew, 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva, who police suspected was selling methamphetamine. Using information from a confidential informant, drug agent Nikki Autry had secured a “no-knock” search warrant that allowed the police to enter the nephew's mother’s home unannounced.

The nephew was arrested hours later a few doors down where he actually stayed. There was no resistance and no flash grenades used in the arrest.

The police separated Bou Bou from his parents and didn't allow them to tend to his fears. He was wished to a hospital while the parents were detained for 3 hours before they were allowed to go to the hospital to see their son, who they feared might have been slain.

After five weeks in a coma, little Bou Bou and his family returned to Wisconsin but they are saddled with the medical expenses which the county refuses to pay. 

Since the incident last Spring, Bou Bou has undergone several surgeries to repair his face and torso. The Laotian-American family says they are facing close to $1 million in debt from hospital costs. Habersham County officials will not pay the medical bills, citing a "gratuity" law in Georgia that they say prohibits them from compensating the family.

The SWAT team was disbanded in November. Coincidentally, it was disbanded a day before 20/20 began their investigation.

The grand jury heard testimony from the officers but only allowed written statements from the parents and the parents never had the opportunity to present their case. The grand jury decided not to indict the officers involved.
But Sally Quillian Yates, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that her office will take up the investigation.

“Federal authorities have been participating in the investigation of this terrible incident, and now that a state grand jury has declined to return an ie will review the matter for possible federal charges,” said Quillian Yates in a statement.
The militarization of many police departments is a growing concern as veterans trained for war enter America's law enforcement agencies. The trend raises questions about their training. Tactics that would be understandable in Afghanistan are not the tactics that we are supposed to be using against American citizens, who have rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
American citizens -- whether they are innocent bystanders or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time -- should not be simply shrugged off as "collateral damage" in the police's intensified war against criminals.
And as critics of the protests against the grand jury decisions in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner argue that the victims and their communities should be "accountable" for the so-called lifestyles they live, so too, must the police/state be accountable for their actions.
C'mon Georgia, do the right thing!

The Phonesavanh family has set up a website to share their story and raise money for Bou Bou’s medical expenses. Click here for more information.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Marco Polo: Go East, young man

Benedict Wong, left, has a commanding presence as Kublai Khan. Lead actor Lorenzo Richelmy, right,
not so much even though the show is named after his character.
IF YOU haven't started watching Marco Polo on Netflix yet, don't worry. The 10-part season of the adventure epic will be there for you to watch at your convenience either as a bingefest or stretch it out as long as you like.

Marco Polo is grand, a spectacle, a swashbuckler and a sweeping epic. It is on the scale of Game of Thrones with political intrigue, clash of cultures and a bit of titillation thrown in for the producers and sponsors.
UPDATE: The future of Marco Polo is still up in the air. If you want a second season of this show, click here.
Oh, and by the way, it gives a lot of work to Asian thespians. What I like about the series is that it gives the writers the luxury of time to flesh out the complex characters, something that wouldn't happen if the characters were token minorities on a TV show. Well ... at least, I hope that's what happens. Lazy writers will fall back on the old stereotypes but I'm hoping Marco takes  advantage of their excellent cast and their talents.

It's a huge cast rivaling HBO's GoT but with the advantage of history instead of fantasy. I already find some of the characters fascinating and can't wait to see how their roles in this historic epic will unfold.

I have to point out, I never thought I'd be rooting for Kublai Khan, one of the ruthless figures in world history but Benedict Wong, who plays Khan has won me over as a fan (of Wong).

His commanding presence in scenes nearly makes the title character, played by Lorenzo Richelmy, nearly invisible. And therein lies one of the weakness of the show; if Richelmy doesn't pick it up, this could be a one-season series because Richelmy's Marco is the hook for white viewers who have difficulty relating to non-whites.

I have to admit to some trepidation about this series. I am hoping that it isn't the "white man saves the world," type storyline that is so typical Hollywood. So far, two episodes in, the producers are giving the Chinese and Mongol characters equal time. My fingers are crossed that they keep this up.

The reported $90 million spent for production shows. It is beautiful show to watch, from the silks waving in they wind, the fabulous costumes, the computer driven sets, the beautifully choreographed fighting scenes or the sweeping shots of the steppes. Who would have thought the treeless steppes with its wide open, endless grasslands could be so beautiful a portrayed so sensually by writer and creator John Fusco. 

Fusco's drive and passion for his subject is what got this series produced because most producers would shy away from a show with only one white actor. Credit super-producer Harvey Weinstein for taking the leap.

Fusco uses Polo not as the protagonist or as an instigator of the action, but as the eyes of Netflix's western audience. He's an observer of the actions of Khan and his court; exactly why Khan allowed the real Marco Polo to stick around.

“That’s what fascinates me. We all think of the travelogue part [of his life] … but then he spent 17 years in the court of Kublai Khan,” Fusco told an interviewer.  “He was basically a special agent, journalist, and diplomat. One of the reasons why he used Marco is he was a European and he had no dog in the fight. He could go [to these places] objectively.”

In the eyes of western history, Marco Polo is an important figure. But I wonder, how is he viewed in Asian history? Is he merely a single figure in the Khan's court without any importance other than an objective set of eyes? 

Joan Chen in "Marco Polo."
The writers' attempts to give Marco a love interest are awkward and seem forced. Therein is the weakness to Fusco's writing. His female characters are intelligent and feisty enough; but still, the women are reduced to sexual objects in order to (1) titillate the TV audience used to the GoT standards; and (2) to satisfy the studio heads who adhere to the "sex sells" adage. Hopefully, after the producers feel that they've capture an audience, they'll rely less on the T&A fallback perpetuating this stereotype of "exotic" Asian women.

But as actress Joan Chen, who plays Khan's wife Chabi, says, for that time period, there was no feminist movement and as much as we would like to empower women, in that era, in that country, women were not treated well. We shouldn't impose our modern day values on people who lived in an age when women were treated like second-class citizens.

The first two episodes moved slowly at times, and sometimes the dialogue is bait pompous and stuffy, but I understand the pacing picks up later in the series after we get to know who's who and the political landscape of the time period.

The mixed reviews the show as garnered hit on all those negatives, but, for me, a show wherein Asian actors can show their talent, with Asian characters with depth and with an underlying plot in which Europe is NOT the center of the world, and an historical perspective that is not Eurocentric, is an important step forward and we shouldn't lose sight of that, even though we wish it could be more.

In the larger scheme of things, in this time of China-bashing and North Korean dictators, it is vitally critical for the future of this country that U.S. audiences get used to seeing Asian faces, whether it be at work, school or in the movies and on the TV screen.

If you're tired of the reruns and the umpteenth showing of the "Christmas Story" or "White Christmas," Marco Polo is a good way to pass the winter months. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Filipino food: the Rodney Dangerfield of ethnic cuisines

THE LATE Rodney Dangerfield was an old-school comedian that most Milllenials probably never heard of. He was nervous, overweight and always disheveled.  I'll always remember his trademark line: "I never get any respect."

You can apply that line to Filipino food. It just doesn't get any respect.

Filipinos are the second largest Asian American ethnic group in the United States next to the Chinese community. Yet, Filipino cuisine has lagged behind other the cuisines of other Asian countries.

Even though Filipinos have been in the America's since the Spanish galleon trade in the 18th century, the foods of Vietnam, India, Thailand, Korean and Malaysian flavors have  gained more notice and acceptance by non-Asians, complementing the more familiar Chinese and Japanese foods that Americans have grown up with.

Ironically, its another mode of transportation that is bringing Filipno food to the masses. The food truck scene has been spiced up with a heavy influx of Filipino entrepreneurs. Almost every major city that has a large concentration of Filipinos -- New York, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago anywhere in Hawaii and even in places where you wouldn't think of such as Utah and Arizona -- Filipino entrepreneurs and chefs have been garnering high marks for their culinary offerings.

Filipino-American restaurants have depended mainly on their Filipino customers to survive. 

Reaching a wider audience has been difficult and making the crossover has not been easy for a number of reasons.

Filipino food has recently been attracting the attention of the more adventurous foodies with good results.

Savor Filipino is an aggressive food movement to win over non-Filipinos to Filipino cuisine with a widely attended food extravaganza in San Francisco last August. It brought together some of the top chefs of Filipino cuisine from across the country, coast-to-coast, from New York City to San Francisco.
RELATED:Anthony Bourdain - 'Filipinos love feeding people.'
Ron Quesada, an advocate for anything Filipino, wrote an article in Positively Filipino about  the food festival, capturing the atmosphere of the event featuring the cooking of Filipino American singer of the Black Eyed Peas.

Washington Post food writer wrote a glowing review of Manila Mart, a nondescript turo turo. Although the ambiance was lacking in the small mom-and-pop establishment, he apparently loved diving into the unfamiliar fare.

The restaurants Jeepney and Maharlika in the lower east side of NYC have been gaining devotees with their take on some dishes into more familiar-looking dishes. The longanisa hamburger (ground longanisa sausage) is shaped like a hamburger patty but the taste is nothing like the American standard burger. The sweet and slightly spicy sausage transformed into an American classic.

But that's the Filipino way: take a dish from another culture - whether it be Chinese, 
Spanish or American - and give it a twist to create a uniquely Filipino dish.

At Jeepney, you can eat with your hands off of banana leaves.

Nicole Ponseca, part owner of both Jeepney and Maharlika, has been waging a campaign 
introducing Filipino fare to the Big Apple's discriminating palates. She suggests that the reason
more Filipinos don't get into the restaurant trade is because of a sense of shame (hiya) of
the Philippines' cuisine. 

Nicole Ponseca, Maharlika owner, and chef Miguel Trinidad.

"That’s why [some restaurants] give the "white-man menu" [to customers] because they think 
they’re not going to like dinuguan, which is a pork blood stew. But why have hiya when the 
French have boudin noir and the Spanish have morcilla? It is because when you’re colonized 
over so many years, you don’t value your own culture, even though we have so much pride."

There's no sense of shame over at Pig and Khao, where the down-home creations of Leah 
Cohen, a competitor in Top Chef, is attracting devotees with her no-apologies-needed 
renditions of Filipino food - lots of variations of pork.

Even though the greatest concentration of Filipino restaurants can be found in Southern 
California and the San Francisco Bay Area (Hawaii is well aware of Filipino cuisine, its 
imbedded in their culture.) most of the good press is happening in the East Coast. 

While adobo, lumpia and pancit are the best known Filipino fare, there are other dishes 
that could easily make it on a 5-star menu. Sinigang, the tamarind-based soup would shine 
in anybody's menu; to my tastebuds, the Philippines' leche flan puts the Latino and Spanish 
versions to shame; and no one's roasted pig is better than the Filipinos' lechon, according to 
TV host and food raconteur Anthony Bourdain. Certainly nothing to be ashamed of, right?

No less than Andrew Zimmerman, TV food host of "Bizarre Foods" proclaimed the food of the Philippines would be the next cuisine to entice American palates. “I want to go on record —this is not something that’s hot now somewhere and will get hot everywhere else,” Zimmerman said. 

“It’s just starting. I think it’s going to take another year and a half to get up to critical mass, but everybody loves Chinese food, Thai food, Japanese food, and it’s all been exploited. The Filipinos combined the best of all of that with Spanish technique. The Spanish were a colonial power there for 500 years, and they left behind adobo and cooking in vinegar — techniques that, applied to those tropical Asian ingredients, are miraculous.”

A San Francisco food writer wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that Filipino food was "the next big thing." That was in 2010. Almost five years later and the "discovery" of Filipino cuisine is happening in small increments and widely spaced out. Events like the "Balut-Eating Contest" in New York and Savor Filipino as well as the proliferation of food trucks across the country is helping introduce people to sigsig and balut.

Thanks to the recipes handed down from my mother and father-in-law, and the growing 
presence of Asian supermarkets with all the necessary food ingredients I need, the good news (for me) is 
that I don't have to wait for the "next big thing." For everybody else, though: You don't know 
what you're missing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hollywood stumbles when it comes to race

WHERE DO WE START? Samuel Jackson, Amy Pascal, Mark Wahlberg, Selma and Oprah or, how about Chris Rock?

The reel world sometimes get unspooled and gets tangled up with the real world. Most of the time, Hollywood stumbles when dealing with race - any race: African/American, Asian, Latino, Arab, American Indians - and the list goes on. There's so much to write about:

Chris Rock: Telling it like it is

(Dear Reader: My apologies for a longer-than-usual post. If your attention span doesn't allow you to read the entire article in one sitting, I've cut it into neat, convenient parts so you can leave, come back, and pick up where you left. - Ed)  

Comedian Chris Rock wrote a searing oped on "white Hollywood" for the Hollywood Reporter, one of the movie industry's premiere trade publications. It wasn't an indictment of the industry but just a matter of fact way of admitting the way things are in the home of the motion picture industry.

To most people of color connected to the entertainment world or if you just like movies, what Rock wrote is nothing new: How the decision makers will throw a bone to a minority actor to play a secondary role, or hire actors of color as an afterthought. 
"It's a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there's nothing wrong with that."
The timing of the article after Ferguson and Staten Island and the protests that grew out of those events made his opinion piece that more meaningful.

Chris Rock is touring the country promoting his movie "Top Five." The artist has been on roll lately. He also stirred things up with his comments about race relations in interview with The New York Magazine where he disputed the traditional white perspective of improving relations among the races.

(Here's the trailer for Top Five.)


Wahlberg wants attack on Asian men expunged from his record

ACTOR Mark Wahlberg spent 45 days in jail for his racist attack on two Vietnamese men, Tranh Lam and Hoa Trinh, when he was a teenager. Now that he's rich and famous, he wants to expunge that from his record. Columnist Jeff Yang writes a pretty convincing piece on why Wahlberg shouldn't have his record cleared.

A lot of the conservative pundits (especially from Fox News) cry out the need for accountability from black youth in an attempt to paint the late Eric Garner and Michael Brown as thugs. As Yang points out, white men with records get a pass from being accountable.

Yang writes:
Mark Wahlberg, aka Marky Mark, aka thug

"The attacks were peppered with racial slurs; he called Lam a "Vietnam f*cking sh*t" before smashing him in the head with a large club and knocking him unconscious, and he punched Trinh so hard that he left him blinded in one eye. He repeatedly referred to both men as "slant-eyed gooks" while he was being arrested. Wahlberg, who was 17, was tried as an adult and served 45 days in jail for the crime."
Despite what happened to him, Lam forgave the actor for his actions and supports a pardon. "Everybody deserves a second chance," said victim Lam, now a Houston resident.

Reportedly, Wahlberg is flying Lam and his family out to Los Angeles so that the actor can formally apologize for the attack.

Wahlberg pleaded his case with Matt Lauer in an interview with NBC's Today Show.

“From the day I woke up in prison realizing the mistakes that I had made and the pain that I caused people, I committed to turning my life around,” Wahlberg told Lauer.

I'm not sure how sincere he was when he said that. In the 26 years since he spent time in jail, though, the former rapper known as Marky Mark, never looked for the victims to apologize for his deed nor did he offer any restitution. Only now, when he's seeking a pardon, seeking to expand his Wahlburger chain and promoting a new movie, is he offering to apologize.

But others, like Yang, believe a mere apology is not enough. In her blog Reappropriate, Jenn Fang calls on the actor to produce an anti-racism PSA to make amends. A petition organized by the Asian American activist group 18 Million Rising has generated more than 13,000 signatures opposing the pardon.

If Wahlburger was black and did to two white men what he did to the Asian victims, I have a strong suspicion that he would have been treated differently when he was arrested and during sentencing. A 45-day sentence for beating two men almost to death sounds like he got off pretty easy. Doesn't that fall under attempted murder?


Ferguson, Selma part of the same story

The cast of Selma at a screening of the movie due to premiere on Christmas Day.

THE MOVIE Selma, produced by Oprah and Brad Pitt, tells the story of the 1965 voting rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, which began with the brutal “Bloody Sunday,” where police attacked peaceful marchers on their way from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

(Here's the trailer for Selma)

There's a scene in the movie where kneeling protesters put their hands behind their heads, a sign of surrender, eerily reminiscent of the hands-up posture used by today's Ferguson protesters.

At the world premiere in New York, the cast wore the black "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts expressing their view of the death of Eric Garner and the grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer who used an illegal choke hold that killed Garner.

Director Ava DuVernay on the release of Selma at this particular time in American history:  "Protest is still very much alive and well in this country, and it’s such a poignant moment for people who have been traumatized by these issues for so long to have a groundswell of emotion, with people taking to the streets with such a fierce desire to be heard. It so oddly equates to our film, and the cultural moment we were in in 1965. It’s jaw-dropping and weird that it’s happening at the same time."


Hacked Sony emails reveal executives' true colors

THE FALLOUT from the Sony being hacked are the revelatory emails of Sony honcho Amy Pascal which included some questionable comments about black movies and some of the big names in Hollywood.

She later owned up to her inappropriate racist emails and apologized, but the emails reveal the true feelings of Hollywood decision-makers towards the artists, who they need to make their movies; and the audiences, whose dollars make up their profits. 

The Hollywood executives may talk a good game about diversity but maybe, deep down, when they think no one is looking, they resent making any attempt to improve race relations through messaging; or being pressured to portray people of color beyond the stereotypes that movie moguls help perpetuate.

Pascal has been at the center of the embarrassing PR nightmare because some of the stolen messages include notes in which the studio chief makes a series of racially charged comments about President Barack Obama’s movie tastes. Some of the emails also included disparaging comments by Pascal and other top Sony executives about big-name stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie and Kevin Hart, according to the "Daily Variety."

At any rate, her racist emails may be the least of her worries with the hackers threatening to do even more damage, threatening even those who go see the movie. Rogan and Franco have even cancelled promotional events because of the threats. Theater owners have been threatened and Sony has told them that they do not have to show the movie. The hackers - calling themselves the Guardians of Peace - have even had the gall to compare their threatened action to 9/11.

Although the country of North Korea has not claimed any credit, the hacking is believed to be sanctioned -- if not strongly encouraged -- by that country in retaliation to the Sony satire The Interview, in which, the characters played by Seth Rogan and James Franco are asked by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The North Koreans apparently took umbrage.

UPDATE (12/17): Since this article was first posted, the U.S. has linked North Korea to the hacking of Sony Entertainment. Also, in the interest of safety, the premiere of "The Interview," originally scheduled for Dec. 18, has been postponed.)
UPDATE (12/23): Sony Entertainment has reconsidered its decision and decided to release "The Interview" on Christmas Day. 
UPDATE (12/26): Hackers should have just ignored the movie and it would have gone virttually unnoticed. Instead, it got huge PR, drew over $1 million on opening day despite poor reviews and limited release.

How will Sony, a private company, react? Hell, how will Americans react to another country threatening American moviegoers?I suspect Americans will go see the movie in droves despite -- or maybe, because of -- the threats ... unless ... its  just not funny (which according to advance reports is a strong likelihood) which is a death knell for a movie that is supposed to be a comedy.

As for Pascal's future with Sony? Who knows?


Forget the ice bucket, here's a new challenge

Samuel Jackson
MEANWHILE, Samuel Jackson posted a video over the weekend urging celebrities to do something to protest the police actions in Ferguson and Staten Island.

"All you celebrities out there who poured ice water on your head ... here's a chance to do something else," says Jackson.

“I challenge all of you to sing the ‘We Ain’t Gonna Stop Till People Are Free’ song,” he says.

Jackson then starts singing a capella.

“I can hear my neighbor crying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave,” he croons. “Calling out the violence of the racist police. We ain’t gonna stop till people are free.”

He linked to the video visa his Facebook page, and the post has gone viral and quickly gathered 72,000 likes and counting.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Filipina American entrepreneur raises $650,000 on 'Kickstarter' with her great idea

Angelia Trinidad pursues one of her passions.
WANT TO know what to do with the rest of your life? You say you want to pursue what's really important to you?

"Follow your passion," is probably the worst piece of advice you can give to a young person just starting out, because that doesn't prepare them for rejection or giving up some of the other things you expect out of life - like paying the rent, eating, or taking  vacations.

However, for a few people, that advice works out. It is their success that gives  hope to the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed optimists coming out of high school or college.

The next few weeks will be busy for Angelia Trinidad. After raising more than $650,000, she closed out her second Kickstarter campaign last week. That sum is a whopping 6,584 percent of her modest $10,000 goal. This isn’t chump change.

According to Kickstarter’s statistics, only 1,619 successfully funded projects have raised more than $100,000—less than 2 percent of all projects. 

The 24-year old Filipina American just might be able to (finally) move out of her parent's San Diego home where she has taken over the garage for her warehouse/office.

So what is Trinidad’s grand product that attracted 23,000 backers? An old-school paper planner. (Watch the video below.)

She finds that taking the time to write things down helps her to focus.

Back to the future? Find out more about Angelia's great idea

To look at her in her backwards baseball cap, jeans and southern california casual style, you wouldn't think she is a CEO. However, she's garnered the attention of the local business scene and she's been invited to do motivational and business workshops and even gave a TED talk at UC Irvine.

Through it all, Angelia has managed to keep her head and priorities straight to focus on what's really important to her. Her "Planner" must be working for her.

“I think my version of the American Dream is just having enough and having lots of people that I feel close to,” she told a reporter. “I value friendships and my family way more than money. I remind myself over and over again what my values are and what I want out of my life. What the Passion Planner does is helps you find out what matters, on paper.”

Angelia Trinidad's parent's garage is now too small for her growing business venture.