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you don't stand out but you don't fit in
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Date:2009-03-18 20:43

I just returned from hearing Bich Minh Nguyen, the author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, at an event sponsored by my local library. This was my 2nd time hearing her speak as her book is set in the major city closest to where I live. Each time I hear her I am inspired to write.

I hurried home to write about eggs. What welcomed me when I stepped into my door was the lingering murmurs of onion sauteed in olive oil, then mixed with the most ridiculous ingredients. My frittata of almonds, raisins, mushroom, spinach and spices ranging from red pepper flakes to thyme to nutmeg was resting on my stove. I love eggs!

When I was a young girl, I was convinced that eggs prepared outside of our home tasted different, not just different but foreign. I felt they tasted a bit "like fish" which was the only way I knew how to describe the nastiest taste imaginable. I suppressed gags, but obliged to be subjected to eggs that other people fixed. I never let on. I just acknowledged it as fact to myself. I continued to humor our family's hosts and the chefs at restaurants we visited.

You might think that my parents were gourmet cooks. Or that they lovingly prepared food like Paula Dean who cookie-cut the center of a slice of bread out with a glass and whimsically plopped an egg inside so that her sons had a fun reason to eat fried eggs. No. Although my dad makes a fantastic omelette, my mom currently would rather microwave a scrambled egg rather than get a pan dirty.

No. It had nothing to do with my parents' incredible egg preparation. In fact, there's a thought at the edge of my consciousness that the reason had nothing to do with eggs--and everything to do with eggs.

Growing up for me, there was complete safety in being part of my family in our home. Venturing beyond, however, meant being questioned--inducing curious quick second glances. Not at my family, but at my place in it.

This secret sense that eggs--the first hint of a chicken before it is a chicken that never becomes a chicken--were "normal" at my house, was a way of being absolutely convinced of something. The fact that my very home and family--indeed belonged inherently to me. No other reality was "normal." I couldn't have been adopted by 100 other people. I shouldn't really be with a "real family" in another country that didn't speak either language I was learning. No. The eggs would have made me gag.

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Date:2008-10-19 21:03
Subject:secret life

bees-plus: I brought a couple of friends to see The Secret Life of Bees this weekend. We were all touched by it. I was really looking forward to the movie and wondered if it would disappoint after all of that anticipation. It did not!!

In fact, it is one of those rare instances when I believe the movie rose above the book. I was not initially a big fan of the book. I felt that it was a bit too melodramatic and it really didn't sit right with me that the author was Caucasian and had made her African American characters so saintly--it felt kind of disingenuous, kind of "precious." I think what really bothered me was that the perspective was from that of a young white girl--the story felt like it was trying to be To Kill a Mockingbird, which, incidentally, is among my favorite books. It would take absolutely an amazing piece of literature to eclipse that.

spoiler alert:
So, that having been said, I think I gained a deeper appreciation for the book after I saw the movie. My first objection was, "Who takes in a strange girl and cares for her in this way? Please!!" Well, that's pretty much adoption--and as I've mentioned numerous times I am adopted so I just needed to get over myself! Another objection was May's death. It felt melodramatic! But the wailing wall in the movie was so powerful, that it helped to support her decision as more plausible in my mind. Finally, it felt too much of a coincidence that Lily ended up at the Boatwright house--and August just happened to have some of her mother's things . . . a little too convenient. Yet sometimes life happens that way and it did make for a very Hollywood ending.

My favorite scene in the movie was when Tristan Wilds showed Queen Latifah that he had been stung by a bee on his hand. If you read the interview with the Wootens, the beekeepers who trained the cast, in the previous post, you will notice that he really was stung. Adorable!!

Finally, there is a scene in some trailers where Lily picks up the phone at the lawyer's office and she hears T. Ray's voice. That scene was actually cut from the movie--but was in the book. Interesting. I also noticed that the scene involving Jennifer Hudson's character at a segregated lunch counter that was mentioned in interviews was also cut. Again, I've probably followed this movie a tad too closely . . .

Finally, with the passing of Levin Stubbs it was even more meaningful to hear Tristan Wilds' rendition of the 4 Tops classic in the movie. If you've never been to the Motown Museum in downtown Detroit, I would recommend it. The best part about it is that it is surprisingly ordinary, but it produced so many great hits!!

Here's a link to a priceless interview with the cast of the movie, informal and really thoughtful

Books online radio

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Date:2008-10-13 21:32

Secret Life: The movie version of The Secret Life of Bees is coming out this week. if you don't have enough reasons to see this, check out this endearing article about the beekeepers involved with the filming:

Jacksonville Couple Treated like VIPs at the Premiere

Check out another great article about the producer, Gina Prince-Bythewood:

'Secret Life of Bees' brings issues of love, redemption and racism to the screen

I posted a response to this piece which pretty much sums up my thoughts on this picture:

Thank you Gina Prince-Bythewood for bringing this movie to the screen with an African American and adopted person's (transracial?) perspective. I must confess that I was not immediately taken by the book--probably because I was suspicious of the fact that it was written by a Caucasian woman--and it seemed a bit too "precious." Yet, when I discovered who was involved with bringing this story to the screen I began to be less skeptical. I'm now urging all of my friends and family to see this movie!

Flipping the stereotype of the white family "rescuing" children of color through adoption is a scenario that I've long hoped to be brought to the fore. As an adopted person myself, I now realize that my initial reaction to the book might have been an unconscious resistance to my own story--I was heard to remark, "Total strangers taking in a young girl and completely caring for her? Who does that? Please!!" Then I stopped, "Oh yeah, I guess that's adoption . . . !!" (c;

Just a book suggestion for interested parties, "Outsiders Within" is a fabulous compilation of pieces written for and by transracial adoptees. These are exciting times for those interested in racial identity issues (reference to the article which indicated that the movie was filmed in North Carolina about the time Barack Obama was campaigning there)!

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Date:2008-09-04 20:49
Subject:Dixon's So-Called Life

Did anyone catch Tristan Wilds as Dixon Wilson on 90210? There was one scene in which he comes up to two friends and puts his elbows on their shoulders like on the first day of school during Season 4 of The Wire. It was painful to watch since as Michael Lee it was sweet and playful and as Dixon Wilson (formerly Mills) in 90210 it appeared to be a bit forced as he is the new kid in a predominantly Caucasian school. Heart-breaking for me as a viewer because I feel it captured the contrast of these 2 roles in one snapshot.

I was thinking of the tradition of good television writing--even if it's just for entertainment purposes in the teen genre and there are many. If you're going to bring back "classics" from the 90s . . . why not, "My So-Called Life?" If any show would come close to the caliber of writing that Wire alum could sink their teeth into, possibly a remake of this teen cult show would have been a better choice. It also has a "token person of color" (African American-Hispanic in fact!!) and it was written a whole lot less choppy and much much smarter, in my opinion.

But kudos for Tristan for finding work in a post-writers' strike season.

Questions from the show:
1) How did they clean up that mess in the school hallway so quickly?!!
2) Who sewed up those clever pig jerseys in such record time?
3) Do references to naughty behavior, 2-dimensional story lines and siblings who have obvious chemistry add up to "out-of-the-box" or "a whole new level" for this version of 90210? Or am I over-thinking and taking promotional language too seriously?

And here's some possible re-writes to 90210 (other than inexplicable edit of Mills to Wilson):

  • Dixon clearly has an New York accent--why not give him a more believable and possibly go a different route with the cliche backstory? He's the son of a middle-class African American family from New York whose parents were friends of the Mills/Wilsons and who worked in the World Trade Center on 9/11. That's why the Mills/Wilsons took their orphaned son in.
  • Mash 90210 with The Wire--although my hope is that the Wire writers would never in a million years agree to this--and have Dixon and Navid finally give Edward Tilghman Middle the press it deserves. While in Baltimore, they run into Namond, Randy and Dukie who tell them that Marlo has put 50-large on any scent of the pup and 100 on each of his paws. Or have Dixon make the connect with The Greek and start his own franchise out of West Beverly.
  • It is revealed that Dixon is being abused by the Wilsons. He begins to wear heavy eye make-up and is eventually re-adopted by the English teacher. Technically he is no longer Annie's brother and can get in the line of the young men who apparently desire to date her.

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Date:2008-07-02 12:04
Subject:buy my medicine

if I gave a sh** you'd be the first person I'd give it to: My mom and sisters and I went to visit an open air market yesterday and within the first 15 minutes, we saw a mom with her kids wearing a t-shirt with this slogan on it.

Shipshewana can best be described as acres of Dollar Store merchandise made in Pakistan, China, Korea (to name a few countries I read on labels) as well as hand-crafted items with pithy bumper-sticker like logic that bolster pride in country, religion and family. The vendors are mostly Asian minorities (cutting out the usual Wal-Mart middlemen) and some Amish as well as locals. One of the locals--if he wasn't wearing overalls, then he would be sometime that week--actually launched into a tirade about how foreigners are buying up American trains and other components of our infrastructure. This editorial was sparked by his need to decry the local economy and the 7% tax on sheets we were buying at an 80% discount from retail price. Before I realized it, I asked, "Why don't you ante up and buy those trains for us? Then we could have them back?" I'm pretty sure I surprised him, but he collected himself enough to suggest that if we would buy more sheets, then he would do just that. We decided against purchasing more than the 4 sets we already had in hand.

We also bought some Miracle pain relief that is 100% guaranteed for "temporary pain relief in minutes." We were all skeptical and only really tried it because we have a running joke in our family that involves fibromyalgia--and this condition was listed among the top in the list of possible ailments this treatment could address. The spray-on really works and you smell minty fresh from the eucalyptus / jojoba / grapeseed / aloe oil, as an added bonus. I felt tingly and oddly refreshed on my neck where I was beginning to get cramped from my big-a** purse.

Pain relief is great, but I wondered if we might encounter some unintended side-effects from our now pain-free existence. In a few months, whose to say a doctor won't ask one of us, "Didn't you notice the sharp pain in your head? Unfortunately, your brain tumor has grown beyond treatment. If only we had caught it sooner . . . " Or, "The gangrene has really set in from that stubbed toe--why didn't you come in sooner? That pain had to have been tremendous?" A pain free existence has its risks, I suppose.

Later, we enjoyed a hot, buttery homemade Amish pretzel with mustard dipping sauce. In the middle of Indiana, my sister and I actually had a discussion about which was better--an Amish pretzel or a New York street vendor pretzel. They both have their merits . . . but we prefer the toastier surface of the New York. The Indiana pretzel was hot and doughy, but not quite as epic, somehow.

Available plaques:

  • "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you're reading this in English, thank a vet."
  • "We do not call 9-1-1." (On a yellow caution sign accompanied by either a picture of a weapon or a Dachsund.)
  • If you're having trouble standing tall, kneel.
  • I serve 3 kinds of food in my kitchen: microwave, take-out and left-overs.
  • I make it a point to finish what I start . . . I finished a box of cookies, a bottle of wine, a carton of french fries, a bag of chips, a bowl of pudding . . . and I feel great!

Overall, we had a great time. Our mom told us for the first time about the "slicky boys" that lived near by them when she and our dad were in Korea 30 years ago. My parents grew up in the Mid-west. After a time as high school sweethearts. they were married and soon moved to Korea for 2 years. I like to think of them as "uncool"--but in a good way--hippies. Apparently, "slicky boys" were local boys who were not trusted as laundry and other miscellaneous items would turn up missing when they were around. My sisters and I weren't as interested in the origins and nature of "slicky boys" but did however, appreciate our mom introducing us to the vocabulary word, "slicky" and began to put it into heavy rotation as soon as possible.

Later, while we were examining some shirts with applique--for instance, different colored "bling" was applied to make 2-stemmed cherries or a pair of hummingbirds really pop--my mom observed how "sparky" everything was. We have so much to thank our mother for--and yet she gave us TWO new vocabulary words in one trip.

Aside from the $1 pack of 3x5 spiral bound notebooks I picked up for the students' treasure box, the "400 thread count" sheets and the medicine . . . there's no question what was the most valuable items we picked up from Shipshewana.

We ended our stay with rhubarb custard pie. Really, was there any other way this would end?

P.S. In a few weeks, I will return to Korea to visit for the first time since leaving when I was a year and a half. I wondered if I could pick up a few souvenirs at Shipshewana and stash them away until I got back. Would I be able to play off the "Made in Korea" label as truly traveling in my suitcase or would the "USA" embroidery on the ankle of cotton socks take-away some of its Korean cache? hmmm . . .

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Date:2008-06-14 19:58

Check out one of the newest cast members of the upcoming Office spinoff: Aziz Ansari. He is a fan of, gasp!, The Wire, possibly even stalker-level. Not that I could relate to this kind of devotion. I'm just saying . . .

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Date:2008-06-13 14:45
Subject:what are you talking about?

In reaction to this article, Diversity: Why is TV so white? and in particular, the new 90210:

As a transracial adoptee, I'm always interested in how t.v. handles race and adoption. Naturally, you're going to wonder if this new 90210 is what Willis from Diff'rent Strokes was always "talking about." That's a really corny joke. But, the point is, t.v. has not had a great track record with "token" minorities, and adoptees, at that. You could argue that Fresh Prince was also African American and adopted, but he was adopted by relatives so there wasn't that transracial aspect.

Anyhow, Tristan Wilds--who is cast as an African American adoptee in 90210--is coming from the HBO series, The Wire which, in my opinion, "got it right." This show was one of the most amazing television shows in history which had a cast of 100s that contained some of the most incredible talent, regardless of racial background. Naturally, I would have been interested to see more Asians on the show, but it was nice to see Sonja Sohn in a major role. The creators of the show mentioned they were considering doing another season that focused more on the Hispanic community in Baltimore, but they didn't have time to put in the research necessary to get it right yet.

The quality of this programming, throws discussions like the article above in an anachronistic light. Why are people in such angst about WHETHER to include more people of color on television shows, and instead be concerned about MISSING OUT on the amount of talent that is out there, out of work. Tristan lamented in his dvd commentary on Season 4 of The Wire, "I hate that yo, there is not enough work out there for young striving black men." (NOTE: Wilds also embraces his Dominican heritage as noted in this interview for Latina.) I agree!! And it's a shame, not just for the injustice of it, but because of what viewers, producers, writers and yes, advertisers are missing out on. It's a goldmine of talent, people!!! Snatch it up!

Wilds also just filmed a movie, The Secret Life of Bees in which a Caucasian girl is adopted by an African American "family." It's refreshing when 99.9% of transracial adoptions are by Caucasian parents of minority racial children. "Secret Life" stars Queen Latifah, Alicia Keyes and Jennifer Hudson as well as other amazing actors, just to name a few.

For Wilds to be cast in 90210 as what appears to be the "token African American" really feels wrong, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. His body of work has been amazing so far . . . check out "Miracle's Boys" and "Half Nelson" which also deal with characters that you feel that you get to know, rather than simply highlighting a person's racial identity as the main attraction.

At the same time, I have sat on panels with other transracial adoptees and many have the experience of growing up being the only person of color in most circumstances. You're not the one looking at yourself all day, so you forget that you're a different nationality, until you're with other people who match your skin or national heritage. Then it feels like a spotlight has revealed something sort of, too self-revealing. I wonder if 90210 will cover this . . . who am I kidding? Having that many people of color on screen at the same time? That might turn it into a niche audience . . . yikes! Transracial adoptees get this concern more than anyone.

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Date:2008-06-13 08:35

I was thinking over Season 4 of The Wire and wondered if it were an anti-yellow brick road experience for our characters:

Namond: as lion, lost his courage--referenced by drawings Wee-bey's cell-mate drew for him (You could argue he never had courage, of course)
Randy: as scarecrow, lost his brain (gave up information that destroyed him)
Michael: as tinman, lost his heart (although, I'm not sure he does completely)
Dukie: as Dorothy, lost his home (although all of the boys lost their home in the end, but and did Dukie ever really have one?)

Just something I was thinking about as I considered why the writers chose "heart" and "lion" as the symbols depicted in the Asian symbols given to Namond right before school started.

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Date:2008-06-11 15:57
Subject:why I love the wire

In a GoodReads discussion board, the question was asked,

"I've been hearing a lot about this show The Wire lately. What the h*** is it about? What makes it so good?"

As you can imagine, this question made my day!! I have an excuse to rave about The Wire other than to family and friends who are tired of me praising this show!

The most compelling aspect, for me, about The Wire is that it is essentially a novel that makes an intelligent comment on the humanity of the underclass as well as the institutions that enslave us all, to some degree. The authors or writers / producers are David Simon (former journalist for the Baltimore Sun) and Ed Burns (former homicide detective turned urban school teacher). The show's obvious street cred comes from these sources. You will be astounded by the fact that this show was essentially conceived by two white men. Wow!!

The character development is poignant, heart-breaking and, yes, endearing!! The show's creators tackle the drug war, the police department, politics, the urban schools and journalism. They have made political statements about how the war on drugs is currently being waged--if you can call it a war (as the show points out)--which has captured national attention.

The show is set in Baltimore--and the creators are from this city. Their love for their town pulses through each episode. However, they have said that this show could be set in just about any urban American city and still be credible.

The actors are FAN-tastic!! You will be stunned by their performances and ability to make you believe and care. Of course, they have excellent material to showcase their talent. Notably: Wendell Pierce, Michael K. Williams, Dominick West, Idris Elba, Andre Royo, JD Williams, Lance Reddick, Tristan Wilds . . . it's unfair to stop there, but look for these people elsewhere. They are phenomenal!

I am jealous of anyone who will be watching The Wire for the first time. But, again, set aside some time. Because, after you've started, it has crossed my mind that I can relate in a visceral way to the junkies portrayed on the show because this show will take over your world. Bet it!!

Essentially, Netflix will be the preview for your inevitable purchase of the 5 box sets--the last of which, Season 5, will be coming out on August 12. (Are you wondering, at this point, if I work for the show? I do not, sadly.).

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Date:2008-06-11 10:06
Subject:when 2 worlds collide

Did anyone notice that the writers of "The Office" finally got their real-life connection to "The Wire," a show which they so adore? Yes, Amy Ryan appeared in the finale.

I was really hoping they could have lured: Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick, or I don't know Idris freaking Elba! The comedic possibilities of a Toby being replaced by a Bunk? Oh my gosh!!! Or even Daniels?!! Or, yes I said it, Stringer Bell? I'm chuckling just considering this possibility. I would so like to see Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jamie Hector, Corey Parker Robinson, Seth Gilliam or even Domineck Lombardozzi on the set of "The Office" as well! Or anywhere! I miss them and want to see them working!

Do you think that a role on "The Office" would diminish these characters? Please!! I have nothing against this per se, but Tristan Wilds is going to be on the new "90210." Enough said. I don't want to pre-judge, but c'mon! The Office would not be a step-down if 90210 is the best Hollywood can offer Tristan Wilds! This is not HBO, this is tv. But I'll keep an open mind, for now. (c;

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Date:2008-06-09 14:28
Subject:model citizen

Jermaine Crawford discusses what every Wire fan wants to know, "What can I do?"

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Date:2008-06-06 22:04
Subject:my two loves

When NPR meets The Wire.

Fresh Air talks to David Simon. Isn't he one of the reasons Fresh Air exists at all?

Talk of the Nation weighs in.

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Date:2008-06-05 11:02
Subject:walking on golden splinters

I just discovered this awesome blog, What's Alan Watching!

Over the last couple hours, I've spent weighing in on Season 4 of The Wire and I'd like to post one of my responses here without the typos:

I've pondered over and over and over again the trail of Randy's demise. When you trace it back to the moment in Ms. Donnelly's office, you wonder what Randy even got from Ms. D putting the phone down. Miss Anna found out about it all--the boys' bathroom and the murder witness. I realize Randy was desperate and knew to protect the most valuable thing in his life, but he had to know that giving up Lex's murder would not shield him from anyone telling his foster mother about it all. Maybe he figured this was the most valuable currency he owned and he was willing to give it up for his foster mother. That's heart-breaking!! Especially in light of the whispered, "What if word got out?" I love the scenes, no, I treasure the scenes between Randy and Miss Anna.

Would Miss Anna ever ever consider re-connecting with Randy if / when she got out of the hospital? Randy, all things considered, is a model foster child!! I also wondered about her motivation for accepting a middle-school-aged boy when she was single. I say this because it sounds like Randy lived in group homes before he came to her--so did she receive him as a first grader (which would have made more sense in my mind given this situation--not as a baby since she would need day care)? I would have liked to have discovered more about that character.

That scene between Randy and Bunk in Season 5 is just so emotionally brutal as well (Please purchase Season 5 when it comes out on August 12, as I will be doing). More brutal than Randy getting beat up in the foster home after his book money is ripped off (literally!)? Of course not, it's simply cause and effect at its most vicious! Did anyone else contrast Bunk's threat to Randy and his previous one to Old Face Andre about lying to the police? It just illustrates how misguided this one is. It's so amazingly horrific and tragic, especially in comparison to the legitimate one leveraged against Andre.

Also on Randy Wagstaff's parentage . . . I'm not convinced that Cheese Wagstaff is his father. I would say, uncle, if anything. I'm thinking that if Marlo's crew even looks after their "baby mamas" I would think that Cheese would too, especially since his uncle is caring for him. Also, is it common for the children of unwed couples to take on their father's last name? I'm thinking that Cheese had a distant sister with the same last name and never told him or the family that she had a child and abandoned him without their knowledge. Otherwise, my perception is that the family would have taken him in if they had known. Or am I being naive?

Note: ALAN SEPINWALL has confirmed that David Simon revealed that Randy's father is Cheese and hoped to explore that more at a later date. Further proof, that I am, in fact, naive. As if that proof were necessary. (c; How could anyone give Randy up?!!

I feel the connection punctuates even more clearly the lost opportunity that is Randy Wagstaff. Not only his winning personality and potential, but all that he could have had going for him. All the directions he could have gone with his life. He is from the streets, but all of us are responsble for him. Even in The Wire world, we recognize him as one of our own.

Also, I must weigh in on Michael leaving Cutty. I feel it is much like the rip-your-heart-out scene in Season 5 when Michael acknowledges that he doesn't remember the very first episode of Season 4 (yes, the balloon fight) which the audience has stored up in their hearts and are probably thinking about along with Dukie (like when your life supposedly plays out before you just before you die--or in this case, just after you kill someone)! I'm rambling.

My point is, Michael's greatest strength and tragic flaw is that he is a protector, as a result of being a survivor himself. When he walked away from Cutty, I don't completely believe he was convinced that Cutty was not a potential molester. I just think that Michael has a visceral reaction to people in helpless situations.

You could say, what about putting the beat down on Kenard? In Michael's logic, Namond was the one who was more helpless in this situation--he knew of his friend's inability to step-to and Namond's being thrust into this situation by his mother--and Michael was already aware of Kenard's ruthless nature (he hires him right away when he gets his corner).

What about getting the contract on Bug's Daddy (by the way, did he pay Chris and Snoop the cash from the Halloween encounter for that hit or was it just contracted on the promise to join the crew?)? He was protecting Bug from the possibilities presented by his "daddy's" past and Michael's own experiences with him.

Leaving Cutty? Michael ultimately feels as though Cutty will survive as the Korean grocer is getting help, but Michael's continued chances of protecting his brother are the higher calling in going with Monk and the rest of the gang. These are the people who have given him and his brother a nice place to live and a place where he can be away from his mother and the possibility of her bringing home another man who might take an interest in Bug. I think that Michael's poignant look to Cutty is pure sadness because both recognize that basic human compassion must be sacrificed in this game of survival.

Forgetting about his past and the last shreds of his innocence (in the scene with Dukie just before they split up)? Michael is protecting himself from himself. He knows what he has to do to survive. He has made the ultimate sale to the devil and has to move forward without any reminder of his youth. That will only drag him down. You can argue post-traumatic stress, but I think it's deeper than that. Anyone else?

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Date:2008-06-04 18:26
Subject:Reality vs. The Wire

Check out this adorable video of an interview with Thulisio Dingwall and Keenon Brice:

Big Phat Morning Show

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Date:2008-06-04 08:58
Subject:for real

Here's the NPR story about a related topic:

Target: Gangs

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Date:2008-06-02 21:42
Subject:way down in the hole

caught on the wire: Every summer, my free time is consumed by my latest obsession. This year? The Wire. The real estate it occupies in my brain has actually caused me to wonder if I'm having a mid-life crisis--much too early, but who really knows what percentage of your life you have lived?

It began as a NetFlix curiosity during spring break. It wasn't supposed to take over. In fact, I originally lamented that show (Season 4) cast a gritty shadow over my spring break which is usually punctuated by light-hearted episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It sounds like I'm an HBO subscriber, but I'm not. Disturbingly, I fit the profile outlined in this blog (and I'm Asian, by the way):

Stuff White People Like: The Wire

Side note: I also wear New Balance shoes, on casual Fridays. Not for running.

Either way, I've begun sentimentalizing my Teach for America time. Also, trying to recollect that one summer I spent in Baltimore with my cousins. Gradually feeling the safety and comfort of my small town like a weight or reminder of selling out, rather than the well, the safety and comfort that they are.

I tried to explain it to a friend . . . maybe the show is my fantasy fulfillment of how I wish my TFA experience had played out. One of the writers of The Wire is a former urban teacher whose former job was homicide detective. Guess which job he said was harder? Yes, teaching. How gratifying!! Ed Burns parlayed his experiences as a teacher into an amazing show full of insight and incredible street cred (from where I stand, which may not be the most authentic endorsement). Also, the beautiful professional actors playing the kids (Jermaine Crawford, Maestro Harrell, Julito McCullum and Tristan Wilds . . . Thuliso Dingwall, Nathan Corbett and Keenon Brice) on the show are not really in the horrible situations. They are thoughtful, funny, amazing actors who comment on the life of their characters with the wit and social commentary that I so wished for my students.

I rented Half Nelson closely after poring over Season 4 of The Wire. Half Nelson is an independent film about a drug-addicted inner-city teacher who makes a real connection with one of his students. This connection proves tragic in so many ways. Yet, I read it like a metaphor of how bankrupt we all are in the face of institutional injustice. No one can ride into any situation and feel like they can be the hero or are in any way completely innocent. In fact, you are less equipped to deal authentically and respectfully with people (including yourself) if you try to do so. The teacher's addiction allowed his student to recognize her teacher's flaws and illustrate the limitations we all face in a poignant way.

The real tragedy and pure heart-break that is the message of both The Wire and Half Nelson is the beauty, intelligence and dignity of individuals who are lost in the struggle. If you want to off-set the reality somewhat--although, I believe both of these pieces end with some measure of hope--check out Miracle's Boys which is a sweet mini-series about 3 brothers in Harlem who face the questions in their lives with different answers, but ultimately . . . well, I'll let you find out for yourself. The acting feels like first-time performances for many of the actors--but their investment in the project is clear and very earnest. Look out for some excellent performances by The Wire cast members. Fun and amazing.

When I make something my project, it's my life.

Favorite lines from The Wire cannot be typed unedited, but I sometimes like to repeat them to myself during low moments to make me smile. I sometimes forget that the language is a bit salty and out of context, they don't make much sense so this is strictly for Wire fans:Collapse )

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Date:2008-01-14 20:46
Subject:juno thoughts

orange tic-tacs: I loved Juno. However, I spoke to some fellow adoptees who were offended that adoption was treated so lightly in a comedy. I will say this, these two individuals did not see the movie. I wondered if any other adoptees had a reaction to this movie.

Also--did anyone find a gaping hole in the plot? I wondered why Jennifer Garner's character was surprised to see Juno at her house (either time she "dropped by") when her ugly freaking van was parked out front. That kind of "detail" does not seem like it would escape the notice of a perfectionist like the character Jennifer played.

I also wondered for awhile if it was out of Michael Cera's character's personality to have asked another girl to the dance. Then I wondered if he did it just to appease Juno (Ellen Page) because she had specifically mentioned this girl to him. Finally, I decided he did it to find out if Juno were truly interested in him. I got this from his, "You were not bored . . . The Blair Witch Trial was on Starz" speech which was really sweet.

Anyway, overthinking it? Just thought I'd throw that out there. (c;

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Date:2008-01-04 22:52

with you: Recently I've been in conversations with people who explained in great bizarre detail their most recent dream. I've always felt a little bit like an adult indulging a child excited about a lost tooth when people do this. I manufacture interest and wonder if they absolutely believe you share their level of excitement. You understand that it felt so significant, so vivid, yet never let on that dreams are very rarely recaptured. And the worst part is that the Bible indulges this kind of sharing. Even then, I'm not completely buying it! All those dreams sound so purposeful--that's the fakiest part of them. C'mon!

This preface is all to discredit the memory of my most vivid childhood dream which I relived once a week in real life. It involved my piano teacher, Ms. Palmer, who seemed so ancient to me. I was fascinated by her rather large strong hands, the barn-red paint only on the front of her modest white shingled house, her German Shepherd--King--who watched our lessons over the half-stable door to the kitchen and the "The Virginia Philharmonic Plays Around" bumper sticker on her Renault. I dreamt that she died with dramatic slow-motion clang over the keys of her upright piano while I painfully picked out the notes to an easy-version of a Bach Minuet.

Each week, I would watch out of the corner of my eye during our lessons. I'm not sure what I was on guard for, because if it did happen would I have been able to do something since I had been warned in a dream? Why was a warning necessary? So I could get out of the way? Or was the "warning" simply a way to add a bit of drama to the monotony. What?

jason: In this old summer post, I mention how Jason Bateman was one of my earliest celebrity crushes. Can you imagine how jazzed I am to see him all over the place now? Loved Juno! Top Ten! Easily. I was tearing up just reliving some of the scenes with my aunt afterwards. Wow!

christmas: Here's one way we spent our Christams Eve. Happy 2008!

oh, and: My dream ticket right now would be Obama / McCain. If you want a more purple America, it's within your reach. With everything that's been going on, McCain has war cred. Yes, he was freaking tortured, but you knew that. And yet you don't hear that punctuated in the same way that 9/11 is tossed around like a self-parodying catch-phrase. Almost hilarious, if not so very very tragic and inappropriate.

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Date:2007-12-23 14:14
Subject:we have the facts and we're voting yes

10th Anniversary Recording: "There's something wrong with the CD you gave me, it won't play in my stereo.Collapse )

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Date:2007-10-14 17:47

walking to the walk: We had the best seat I've ever had at a Hanson concert at Chicago #1 (Saturday, September 29), but the irony was not lost on me, that the timing was wrong. It was the first time that a Hanson concert felt perfunctory--in a good, even pleasant way--but perfunctory all the same. After waiting 1 1/2 hours in line, we were rewarded with a table in the 21+ balcony area. There, a kind-hearted security guard found us 2 stools. The view of the stage was superb and the sound was amazing (it was the House of Blues, after all)--not muffled by blaring amps up close. This hard-earned nugget of experience was also part of letting go.

I ran into an old friend in line. We had intelligent, sweet conversation with 2 sisters that turned to talk while we all waited for the doors to open. Our table-mates included an adorable young lady and her dad whose most memorable observation during a Hanson cover was, "This isn't the Hanson I remembered." It felt Hanson sorority at its finest. The band's level of energy felt a tad muted, but that matched my own seasoned concert-going maturity. And, as we all later learned, might have foreshadowed what was in store for Isaac in 3 days.

The next day, I turned on the radio at the exact moment on NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" when the segment on Hanson was just beginning with the familiar strains of "MMMBop." The whole weekend felt like an adorable "best of" all-Hanson all-the-time:

Chicago bluesCollapse )

Breaking up: This whole weekend was unexpectedly made more significant by an unanticipated encounter with that person--you have one too--whom you will never get over. At one point, I turned to Susan and said, "It's like my two life passions collided in one weekend! And I can't believe I've just spent another 45 minutes of my life analyzing D____." I stumbled on the quintessential commentary on this lingering, unrequited passion from "This American Life." You won't be disappointed:

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