1.21.2015

The Expat Diaries: Hong Kong

*crossposted on Musings in the Dark & Black Girl Nerds


Circumstances allowed me to spend the past weekend in Hong Kong.  I flew out Friday night on HK Airlines and returned Sunday night via the same carrier. Ideally, I would have spent four days, but this trip wasn’t planned until the last minute.

I hit up TripAdvisor and a couple of other travel websites to find out what I could do in 36 hours.  The answer is plenty.  Hong Kong is a walking city that is very clean and very easy to navigate.  I grabbed a city map at the airport and the travel websites advised getting an Octopus Card, which is basically a travel pass you load money onto.  You can use it for transportation and a lot of restaurants, shops, and stores also accept it.  It saves you from carrying loose coins, which gets tiresome real quick.

My hotel was, fortunately for me, near the central train hub and in walking distance.  With map and Octopus Card in hand, I walked down to the ENORMOUS station and stared at the maps, trying to figure out which way was up and how the trains worked.  The city is tourist-friendly and there are a lot of British “leftovers.”  There are signs literally pointing you in the direction you want to go, labeled with the sights you want to see.  I rode the Peak Tram up the mountain so that I could get a view of the stunning skyline with the mountains in the distance.  The mountains are called the Nine Dragons, and behind them is Mainland China.

1.20.2015

Winter Asian Men: Mike Moh on #Empire (@mikemoh)

Why, hello there.  Isn't this picture the stuff of boarding school fantasies....

Last year I intended to do a feature on Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist, in which Mr. Man here plays the iconic Ryu himself.  Don't ask me why I never got around to it.  It is what it is.

Anyways...meet Mike Moh, who currently has a recurring role on FOX's Empire.  I believe he works in the PR department; he helps coach hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) to go on "white TV and try and talk in a way that don't frighten these folks to death" (seriously, that's a direct quote).

Mike Moh himself is Korean American, early thirties, and pretty to the point of being painful.  As a gifted martial artist, he's done a lot of stunt roles and played some unnamed background characters, but in addition to his work in Assassin's Fist, I'm hoping his recurring appearance on Empire leads to more fleshed-out characters.

And did I mention how much I like listening to this guy talk?

1.14.2015

Ben Youcef, Leaving Us Breathless

When I watched the trailer for From the Rough back in the day, I'll be honest...as a big fan of Harry Potter alumnus Tom Felton, I was eager to his performance.  But now that I've actually gotten to watch it on Netflix, Algerian actor Ben Youcef officially owns my heart.

In addition to his tall, slender build and serenely beautiful face, I just found out he has the voice of an angel.  As a Muslim actor in Los Angeles, Youcef's actually gained a certain measure of fame by calling others to prayer.
It is said, in Los Angeles, that Abdulwahab Benyoucef's call to prayer is so lovely and so clarion that Muslims come to the mosque just to hear him. About three times a week, the Algerian actor — who has shortened his name to Ben Youcef — comes here in his traditional tunic to stand before the men kneeling toward Mecca. He closes his eyes, holds one hand over his ear, leans into a microphone and sings out the Arabic words in extended phrases.

"It's a way to call people to come to worship God," Ben Youcef says. "That's the purpose of the adhan [the Arabic name for call to prayer]. I bear witness that there's no God except God. I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. Come to what's good, come to prayer."
(Source)
Bin Youcef began his acting career after the September 11 attacks, participating in a number of commercials before joining the American Artists talent agency.

At that time, bin Youcef’s appearance made him appealing to a number of American directors, especially for roles related to Islam, religious extremism and other topics related to the September 11 attacks.

1.11.2015

Don't Start Nothing, Won't Be Nothing

See Also

Islamophobia

“…Let’s be clear that every single organization, major organization, Muslim organization throughout the world and in the United States, every prominent individual, be it political or religious leaders — everyone has condemned, not just this attack, but every attack that occurs in the name of Islam.”

Anyone who keeps saying that we need to hear the moderate voice of Islam — why aren’t Muslims denouncing these violent attacks doesn’t own Google.”


I figure we might as well discuss the terrorist attack in Paris which destroyed Charlie Hebdo, one of those white Western establishments which made a career of degrading other people and calling it satire.

Did they deserve to die? Of course not. Words are never grounds for killing someone.  Ass-whooping?  Maybe. Words?  Not so much.
Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.

1.07.2015

Marco Polo's Been Renewed for a Second Season

Benedict Wong as the Great Khan
Well...that was quick!

It's happened, Narrators!  While Googling for news on Rick Yune (don't ask), I found this wondrous news:
Netflix has renewed “Marco Polo” for a second season, and also set the premiere dates for “Daredevil” and other coming series.

First, the epic historical-based exploration adventure will get 10 new episodes taking place in Kublai Khan’s 13th century China.
(Source)
So now would be the best time to keep the chatter going on Twitter, on Facebook, and on the 'sphere so Netflix can know what it needs to do to salvage this show.

Also...big shout-out to the cast.  Congratulations on landing a second season!  Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune, Remy Hii, Mahesh Jadu, Zhu Zhu...even you Olivia Cheng please tell the writers you want to keep your clothes on next season - make your money, gain that exposure, and let's hope to the gods this brings you even better projects.

The Narrative toasts you.

1.02.2015

Asian James Bond: Cast Your Votes

[Idris] Elba as [James] Bond would be great. However, being of Arab heritage and Muslim, I'd really love to see an Arab or Muslim James Bond. I can picture him now, instead of introducing himself as, “Bond...James Bond, ” he’d say, “Abdullah...Abdullah Abdullah.” If you think Limbaugh is screaming now, just think how angry he’d be to see that Bond. (Source)
My, oh my...an Eastern James Bond.  What would we do with ourselves then?  Who would you pick?

I'll start:

Rizwan Ahmed as 007

Rizwan "Riz" Ahmed (born 1 December 1982), also known as Riz MC, is a British actor and rapper from Wembley, London, of Pakistani heritage. He has starred in The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty, Britz, Four Lions, Ill Manors, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and most recently, Nightcrawler. (Source)

1.01.2015

The Expat Diaries: 2014 Wrap-Up

I live in Shanghai; a city of 26 million people.  I have a job that I love, and the absolute freedom to do whatever the hell I want.  I don't think I've ever been as happy or as content as I am right now. Sometimes I can’t believe it; that I really am back in my little house and dreaming about being an expat instead of actually being an expat.

It’s not a dream.  I’ve said this before.  Who dreams of moving to the People’s Republic of China, a communist nation that is still in many ways a third-world country?  “Not I,” said the cat.  But I’m a believer and I’ve learned to trust the path God has put me on, even when I can’t see it and don’t understand it.  Living in Shanghai has been an absolute wonder; an unfathomed delight of new and marvelous experiences.

Look at this city.  What's not to love?

Sankofa

The essay that most insightfully addresses the current problems of racism in America was written 50 years ago.

First, allow me to provide some background information. A few years ago, I attended an intercultural studies class called Roots of the African American Experience. One of the lessons I learned was the philosophy of sankofa. The word sankofa is from the Akan language of Ghana and translates into “reach back and get it.” Basically, it is all about the importance of learning from the past. If one wishes to build a successful future, one must not be afraid to seek knowledge from the past.

Fast forward a couple of years. One of the essays I wrote for my upper-division writing class was titled “The Meaning of Racism,” which is the same essay I published on the Blasian Narrative a while ago. In my essay, I used many references to support my arguments. One of the most intriguing documents I came across was Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Written by Dr. King while he was incarcerated for protesting, his letter was a response to eight white Alabama ministers who had criticized his direct action movement. The white ministers labeled the civil rights demonstrations as ill-timed and ill-advised and counselled local Blacks to withdraw support for the movement.

I remember how absolutely astonished I was at the contemporary relevance of Dr. King’s letter. It was written 50 years ago, but when I first read it last year, it felt as if he was writing about modern-day racism issues. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he was a soothsayer with the ability to look into the future and see how white people today pushback against our anti-racism efforts. But of course, he had no supernatural powers; he was simply writing about the issues of his time. And that is perhaps the most unsettling revelation: white people really haven’t changed all that much. They’re still using the same fallacious arguments and obstructionist behavior that their grandparents used to attack our resistance and maintain the status quo.

Sankofa is all about learning from the past, and I can think of no better place to start than Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” That is why I have decided to reproduce the entire document in this blog entry with my own personal emphasis added on sections that I find particularly pertinent or interesting. Hopefully, you’ll benefit from it as much as I have.

*Note: I believe there are two versions of Dr. King’s letter: an unpolished one he wrote in jail and a polished one he wrote afterwards for publication. I believe the following letter is the polished version. Also, the applications of bold represent my personal emphasis.

12.29.2014

Anniversaries in Media

Before the year ends, I want to give a shout out to the creators of Samurai Champloo, as 2014 marked the 10th anniversary of its release.

Behold - the only anime I ever loved:

Meet Jin, the fictional love of my life

Though...others may prefer Mugen....