Saturday, December 27, 2008

tasteless: the whopper

i am surprised at the tacky burger king marketing campaign that goes to remote villages in thailand to find "whopper virgins." well, one more example of amerikan capitalism using others to their economic advantage. (ha ha. look at those primitive uncivilized hmong people that aint never ate no whopper before!) i could go on and on about this, but watch for yourself, and then choose to boycott burger king, home of the (tasteless) whopper.


you can also call burger king to express your opinion of their marketing strategy:
305-378-3535
305-378-7200

Saturday, December 20, 2008

snow in seattle

aint worked for the past couple of days, cause the office has been closed. so i am trying not to drive. and this is why:



two buses trying to get to the station slid down an ice-covered thomas street on capitol hill and crashed through the barrier separating them from I-5.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

anh joseph cao


been meanin to share this with everyone. louisiana has elected bobby jindal (first indian american governor) and now anh cao, the first vietnamese american congressman. he is from new orleans; check out the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/us/politics/08cao.html?_r=3&scp=2&sq=cao&st=cse

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

absurd

i should change my blog title to - "absurdities," and this should be my first post. yesterday, went to a caribbean restaurant in columbia city, and this is what they decided to advise the general public regarding the use of their urinal:


my second absurdity would be something about stepping in a soft, mushy pile of dog poop on the way to my car this morning. its seattle i tell you... the rain had the pile all squishy and soaked through. and to top it all off, i didn't realize what i'd stepped in until i got in my car and smeared it all over the carpet. i sat there wondering what that smell was, "did somebody leave a vietnamese sandwhich under my seat?" and then i looked down and saw it... light brown too. and then in my subsequent frenzy (i stopped the car twice to wipe it off in the grass on the side of the street) i spilt my diet cherry pepsi all over myself.

i tried to clean it outa my car and off the bottom of my shoe... but it never really works. i can still smell it. in fact, if i breathe in deeply enough, i can smell the poop right here where i sit, even though my shoe looks clean enough for a white glove test. its gonna be the fish sauce story all over again. a real poop emergency.

Friday, November 21, 2008

gran torino

so it was only a matter of time till i wrote this post. clint eastwood (who, unlike charton heston, may he r.i.p, has only become cooler with age) is coming out with this movie called gran torino. see link to imdb below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1205489/

and the movie is about a bitter old korean war vet (clint eastwood himself... why couldn't charlton heston keep doing cool roles in movies instead of that wacko nra mess?) forms an unlikely friendship with a hmong gangster who tried to steal his gran torino. (btw, i think its cool that they named a car after a clint eastwood movie.)


but the coolest thing of all: unlike memoirs of a geisha which used an almost 100% chinese cast to portray japanese characters, eastwood has populated his film about hmong kids with none else but hmong kids. what an idea.

so out with the natalie woods (the whitie puerto rican in west side story) and david carradine (white dude in yellow face in kung fu) and in with a clint eastwood movie that finally does it right. and of course i aint seen the movie yet, so i can't say if its any good, but it's clint eastwood - so of course it's good.

due out sometime in december. also... stay tuned to my blog for future posts on the Lao American documentary, "the betrayal."

read more here:
http://www.asianweek.com/2008/10/03/eastwoods-next-film-features-hmong-american-cast-exclusive-interviews-from-the-set-of-gran-torino/

Monday, November 10, 2008

celebrating

while waiting for the election returns, i was on the phone with katie, and i asked her, "after obama wins the election, do you think people are gonna take to the streets?" i was imagining the next day, people marching and dancing downtown, and katie agreed that they would. but it happened much sooner than that - see below:



thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate. i've never seen such a diverse crowd having that much fun together - kinda like when the mariners won those 116 games back in 2001, only this time people celebrated something way more important. a drum circle formed and the crowd chanted, "obama!" and "yes we can!" and a full-on 10-piece (more or less) brass band showed up, filing into the crowd from some side street with their horns blazing.
we marched from pike place market (probably 2000 of us) down to pioneer square - then back again. then, unsure of what to do next, we marched back to pioneer square and did the the whole thing all over again. i received numerous handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, smiles and even some hugs - all part of the celebratory feeling.

this kinda thing only happens once in american history, and its a good feeling to be on the right side of history.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

finally the tables are starting to turn...

talkin' bout a revolution...

Barack Obama will be our new president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

look who else the obamas are pal'n around with!


first it was terrorists, socialists, and community organizers... and now he's really pushing the limits. its over... now that i've seen this, there's no way i can vote for obama.

kutv.com

also,
can yall visit my brother's "radical-right" website and let him know who yall are voting for tomorrow? check the right side of his page...
http://stopnobama.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 27, 2008

in response


my brother started a blog. i don't know how we're related, but i'm told we are... here is the link and it's title tells you all you need to know:

http://stopnobama.blogspot.com/
so this post is in response to his posts, although i swear my blog won't turn too political... just a little bit- so here we go (and a small disclaimer, i got this in an email, but i don't agree with all of it - like the "mired in scandal" comment aint really a fair depiction of palin's time as governor):


If you think there is little or no racism going on in this election, here's a little mind game for you to play:

Imagine two candidates for president of the US—one is black and the other white…

What if the white candidate was a former president of the Harvard Law Review and the black candidate finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if the white was still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to and the black was the candidate who cheated on his first wife and then left her for a beer heiress?

What if the black’s second wife not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization, and what if the white’s wife graduated from Harvard?

What if the black was a member of the Keating 5 and the white was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if the black’s running mate had a pregnant unmarried teenaged daughter?

And what if the black and his running mate represented the party that was in power for the last eight years which presided over historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc. ?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

Background:


Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

12 years as a professor of constitutional law

7 years as an Illinois state senator

4 years as a US senator


Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

36 years as a US senator


McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

23 years as a Naval officer

22 years as a US senator
Palin:


Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

6 years as a mayor of a town of 6300

2 years as Alaska state governor, mired in scandal.

Friday, October 10, 2008

i guess that's one way to settle a divorce



i wish i coulda seen some video of the bitter husband draggin his half of the house away. wow. here is the accompanying article:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27113959/
thanks jane for sending me this (and for the accompanying tagline).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

back home

i am home in louisiana (wondering why i ever left). i missed all the hurricanes, but fallen trees - all cut up in pieces - still litter the roadsides, waiting to be picked up by the fallen-tree truck.
this picture is of my family. obviously an old picture. do you know which one is me?

Monday, September 15, 2008

football

i went to the cougars-huskies game last weekend, and the tension was a little much for me. here is a big "w" to encourage people to vote for george mccain for his 3rd term. here is jacob. he presently lives in one of those critical swing states (florida) but he was rooting for the cougs on this occasion. no love for the "w."

i have gone to both of the schools, so i was really struggling to figure out who i should root for. and i couldn't just root for whoever was winning at the time, cause it was such a close game!
so i just rooted for the old standby (see my cap):

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the silent "s"

the announcers at the 2008 beijing olympics shook the world when they announced, as the 4 Lao athletes (2 swimmers, 2 runners) entered the bird's nest arena, that Laos is actually pronounced Lao, and that the "s" (a french additon) is silent. my phone has been ringing non-stop since that day... "is it true? is the country really called Lao and not Laos?" and yes... it is true; it is really called meuang Lao, not meuang Laos.
and on a different note: the olympics have been my new best friend. we hang out every night until 1 am. and did yall see misty may and kerri walsh beat up china in volleyball last night? and in the pouring rain too. amazing.
and i actually saw one of the Lao runners in his qualifying round - Souksavanh Tonphithak. he came in last place in the prelims... so i really only saw him just when the starting shot was fired, then the camera left him to follow the jamaican runners zooming to the finish line. but nevertheless, it was exciting to see him there...
here is a link to a blog with another report about the beijing olympic athletes.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

cambodia and thailand don't get along

did yall know that president bush was in thailand this morning? and the only news outa his visit there is what he said right before leaving for the opening ceremony of the beijing olympics - something about how china should improve their human rights record. (by the way, zhang ziyi made a couple comments about that herself: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/29/zhang-ziyi-puzzled-by-oly_n_115531.html)

well, in other news from thailand that bush didn't hear about, the preah vihear temple is causing problems again. the temple was awarded to cambodia by and international court in 1962 after disputes between thailand and cambodia about who really should have it within their borders. (it is a khmer temple, but was within present-day thai borders, until the international court ruled in favor of cambodain sovereignty.) well, the temple was set to be awarded a world heritage site... but that just dug up the past. and now for the past month or so, there's been these thai and khmer soildiers posted up by the temple waiting to shoot each other. (actually i hear on npr that they're really just sitting back, playing 6-cards, drinking rice liquor, waiting for the uppercrust to figure this whole mess out.) read below for details.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/070808_News/07Aug2008_news004.php

some history:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/220708_News/22Jul2008_news21.php

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

camping for real


i have been meaning to put these pictures up here for a good minute, but something keeps getting in the way. but here they are: camping in the sierra national forest with salio, lue, dee, chanh, t, phan, ann, salena, justin, and jocelyn. (this is from a couple weeks back when i was in california.) life was good then. i aint gonna do descriptions like i originally planned. nobody really reads um anywayz. but i will say this - you aint never ate so good on a camping trip. this aint your normal everyday trip. this is the real deal, with real food. not no tin-foil dinners- feels like you're in prison kinda food. it was the good stuff. so thanks everybody that cooked for me on this trip. (my responsibility -self imposed- was to pick up all the trash.)







Friday, July 18, 2008

8 pages of colin cotterill


this ain't a book review. how could it be when i am only 'bout 8 pages into the thing. but for some time, i've noticed on the spl website that when i do a book search on "Laos" this guy colin cotterill shows up with 4 or 5 books... fiction, by the way - and mysteries at that. so i finally checked one out: anarchy and old dogs. and it's part of a series of whodunits 'bout an old doctor, siri paiboun, running around in 1970s communist Laos, solving crimes, seeing ghosts, etc. so i started reading it, and this is my 8-pages-in report... and admittedly, maybe i'm being overly critical 'bout all this, but here are my initial issues with the book, all of which are linguistic in nature:

1) i kinda wish that cotterill had tried to romanize the names of his characters in a more consistent way. on page 2 is the name, dr. buagaew. i am not sure how to say that... is it the same as bouakeo? and is siri paiboun the same as phaiboun? and if bouakeo is buagaew, then shouldn't phaiboun be paibun? and is nurse dtui the same as tui, like fat? and is tawon of the severed scrotum the same as tavanh? i just think that the french, for all the bad things people say about 'em, had a pretty good system for spelling Lao names, and so you might as well stick to it. besides, the spellings are kinda nice when you look at them - nice in their consistency and also aesthetically. to cotterill's defense, he does live in thailand where the romanization of thai names has become this grab-bag, free-for-all nightmare. thai names are spelt however you want, whenever you want, whatever you want, with a seemingly random positioning of english letters - sometimes its jun, then its chun, then its jan... (when really it's chan). but enough of that, on to number...

2) this may not be an important point for most, but neither was my first complaint: cotterill uses idiomatic expressions that are kinda weird in the context of the Lao language - like, "bet my socks on it (pg. 7)" and the phrase from whence the books title comes, "the old dog might learn a few tricks (pg. 8)" ...socks, dogs, feet... i don't know what the Lao equivalents would be, but i don't think they would reference such topics as dogs and feet unless they were cussing at someone. and finally,

3) nurse dtui makes plans to go to her palm-reader, a transvestite, who gives free readings. this becomes an opportunity for dr. siri (pg. 8) to make the comment, "are you saying that she ... he doesn't charge?" i think that we're to believe that this conversation is originally spoken in Lao, and that what we're reading is a translation of sorts, but if this conversation was in Lao, then the whole he/she thing is a non-issue. the pronoun for he/she is gender neutral - its the same for both men and women (Lao). and i bet that cotterill's gotta speak some thai and Lao... (and it's the same in both languages) so how did this sneak through?

i am gonna stop at number 3, although i could continue. in fact, i am slightly embarrassed to post this - i mean, i'm a jerk: he's writing a mystery novel, which really ain't meant to be literary scholarship academic professor indy jones kinda stuff. so read the book if you like mysteries, and try to stop yourself from thinking about how european the character's jokes sound or, "how would this be said in Lao?"

he's got a nice website - it's http://www.colincotterill.com/

Sunday, July 06, 2008

fresno is the center of everything

i am in fresno california, the center of everything. and here are some pictures to prove it.

seattle's got its share of small asian markets, but vietwah and uijimaya dominate with their overpriced produce and slighty uppity selection. whereas this feels like talat sao in viengchan, although indoors. also, i enjoy walking up and down the ailses hearing Lao, hmong, (and Kalome) spoken freely.



and also, i was able to go get some khaopoun at the store (and the restaraunt sells it too) and that just aint gonna happen in seattle. i either have to bribe somebody to make it for me or try to make it myself. and that never works out so well. so i aint moving up here or nothing, but its hard not think about it. here they got food, stores, sun, khaopoun - and 1 out of 3 homes have padek in their cupboards. (that is only an approximation and is not to be quoted for academic research articles.)


chanh is eating khaopoun - at first everyone said they wanted pho, but once you get khaopoun in the house, everybody wants some. ha!


and this is a donut shop that i remember from 1992. we even ate in there on one occasion. i don't remember if it was good, but it couldn't be that bad if its still open.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

jaed coffin's "chant to soothe wild elephants"


i just finished this memoir, purportedly written in the style of hemingway. jaed coffin is half thai - half white, and spent a summer in thailand as a monk, attempting to find his thai identity. i enjoy books with bi-culturalism as a theme; with my job, i am confronted by this issue daily, and i am reminded regularly of my whiteness through the my interactions with the families i serve. (the "i am american" movie we made addresses this issue as well.) i especially liked jaed's reflections on his airport experience (where he "hates" the american tourists and attempts to view himself as separate from them,) and the book is full of this kind of insight.

the one thing that some people may find offensive: he describes his monk friend narong as being "dark like the Lao." he goes on to make other references to the dark Lao people as if this is a trait that distinguishes them from the thai. this could signify jaed's lack of knowledge of the relationship between the thai and the Lao, the history of the isan region, and the oppression and social stratification that comes with the darkness of one's skin. also, i wonder if jaed has met any Lao in america and noticed the great variation in shades and skin colors of those he has met? or is he just relying on stereotypes that some thai people have used to describe the Lao?

i think he also coulda checked some of his romanizations of thai - or even the grammar - like "will you 'jam dai' lek?" or his use of "unsure heart" as a translation for mai neh jai... but these are minor points. i didn't really intend to write a book review - especially not a negative one. the author really does an excellent job of telling his experience, especially for someone like me who is off to the side, looking in from the secure sidelines of my whiteness.