Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 39

kiss Pictures, Images and Photos
Conversation with Oldest after Valentine's Day.

Oldest - So how did you know Daddy loved you?

Me - When he got me a bucket and held up my hair as I puked my guts out.

Oldest - Ergh! That's disgusting and not romantic at all!

Me - That's true love.

Oldest - (Stares at me with disgust.) So did you ever hold Daddy's hair for him while he threw up?

Me - He has short hair.

Oldest - You know what I mean! Did you hold a bucket while he was sick?

Me - No way! I'm a sympathetic vomiter. Can't do it.

Oldest - You're not right! So you're saying Daddy loves you more than you love Daddy?

Me - No, I'm just smarter.

Oldest - (long pause) Mom, I can see your evil genius at work.

Me - That's because (doing my best Darth Vader impersonation) I am your Mother.

Oldest - I'm out of here.

Me - Come back child, join me and we will rule the world...

Don't blink

This is how I feel about chocolate too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You ain't Korean unless you've had ...

Han-Yak. That's right. Nasty, stinky, vomit inducing Korean herbal medicine that makes you want to cut your own tongue off rather than drink it.

Thought I was going to say Kim Chee, right? Well, actually I've had people describe kim chee the same exact way, so to each his own. But today I am not waxing eloquent about the hot and spicy pickled cabbage dish. No, I want to revisit my youth in painful detail with you.

Most children with Korean parents have endured being grabbed in a head lock and having their nose pinched ruthlessly by their mother as halmoni (grandma) pours a brownish/black, warm, stinky, herbal concoction down their throats. I remember letting the foul stuff leak out the side of my lips and down my neck to try and keep from vomiting, only to get smacked on the head by my little old halmoni while she shouted that I was spitting out liquid gold. Apparently gold tastes a lot like horse manure. My sister had a much better method of dealing with the han yak. As soon as they forced it down her throat, she'd immediately hurl it back into halmoni's lap, along with whatever else she'd been recently eating. After about the 10th time of being covered in puke, halmoni finally gave up on her and poured all her han yak lovin' to me. The big dummy who dribbled instead of spewed.

So what is this mysterious medicine that tastes like fresh yak poop? Apparently it is an ancient herbal medicine philosophy based on restoring the proper flow of "gi" in the human body. It relies on a variety of sources such as plants, minerals and animal parts. Depending upon what your medical problem is, they have a different mix of the three just right for you. They used to put bear gall bladders, seals testes and rhinoceros horns in the stuff before it became illegal. Now we are so lucky to have deers antlers, sea horses, bats, scorpions, centipedes or geckos instead. But at the heart of any good han yak is ginseng, the most prized Korean product. Ginseng itself is not bad. Smells like a root and tastes like a root. Nothing to vomit over. But when mixed by a crazy little old Korean "doctor/quack" with the other 20-oddball, scary, freaky, han yak ingredients, it becomes unpalatable. Han yak makes Vegemite taste like Nutella. And it gives you horrible gas, and the gas would smell just like han yak, and you would try to run away from the smell, but it would linger wherever you went cause you were now the source of the odor.

So why drink it? Well Koreans swear by the stuff. They believe it cures just about everything - migraines, menstrual cramps, hernia, stomach aches, nose bleeds, and even broken limbs. Yes the han yak is so potent it will help your bones knit itself together again. Now that's liquid gold!

But does it work? Let me put it this way. I would NEVER EVER EVER tell my halmoni that I felt sick. NEVER! I remember breaking my pinkie in the school yard and crying like a baby. But when I got home, I put on a pair of gloves and acted like nothing had happened. My pinkie ballooned to the size of a McNugget and I'd pretend it was a sausage that I was eating. Luckiy, my halmoni had terrible eyesight. To this day, my right pinkie is blatantly crooked from having set it myself at the age of 11. So as far as my halmoni was concerned, I was the healthiest kid in the world and han yak was the reason.

And there was no more effective punishment than han yak. Just the threat of the stuff would have me begging for forgiveness for crimes I hadn't yet committed. The worst part was, I'd still get the han yak.

My kids have no idea how lucky they are that I don't make them drink the stuff. They have no concept of the misery I endured... But then again, perhaps I should further explore the benefits of han yak as a punishment.
Evil laugh Pictures, Images and Photos
Muw hwa hwa HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


February 14th, 2010 is the first day of the first lunar month and this year we are celebrating the Year of the Metal Tiger! Hurray for the Tiger! Hurray for getting rid of that stinky old brown cow! Yes 2009 was the Year of the Stinky Old Brown Shit Cow. I am so glad that it is moving its fat stinky butt out of the way. I've got a nice big steak waiting for me to sink my teeth in as a farewell to the cow. Au revoir, you nasty old heifer! Thanks for crapping on me all year long. Even to the bitter end - leaving me this week with a leaking roof after 50 inches of snow. Yes I blame you for that nasty doritos, old socks, vomit and mold smell in the girls room where you left your nasty tracks of melted snow. I am so glad to be getting rid of you.

Welcome Old Man Tiger and bring us some good luck for a change! Yes it may be a year of ups and downs, but change is good. Change can shake things up. I'm not afraid of change... yet.

Someone recently asked me if only Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year. I said no, most Asian countries celebrate it. And she asked me if Koreans and Japanese wish each other a Happy Chinese New Year. Which was funny because I could understand that question. So I explained to her that it was actually a celebration of the new lunar year so Asians would just wish each other a Happy New Year. But outside of Asia, most people know it as Chinese New Year. She asked if I was offended by that and I said no. Wishing someone a Happy Chinese New Year is no different than wishing someone a Happy Lunar New Year. The sentiment is the same and very well appreciated.

So to everyone out there, I wish you a Happy Chinese/Lunar/Asian New Year! May the Year of the Tiger bring about some well needed luck for everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Conversation about Racism with My Daughter

Oldest is 10, nearly 11 and as much as I'd like to protect her from the ugliness of racism, she has not been immune. In fact, all 3 of my girls have had kids pull chinky eyes at them or make up sing songy Ching Chong words, not unlike Rosie O'Donnell's sensitive use of the Chinese language.

I tell my kids to stand their ground and to let these kids know that they are acting in an inappropriate and hurtful manner. And then I ask my kids not to let these actions hurt them, but to be proud of who they are and where they came from. But no matter what I say, it is unrealistic to believe that there will be no impact to them. I can see it even now. When we go somewhere and they notice that they are the only minority present, they are reluctant to bring attention to themselves, aware that they are different. Small, subtle things that bother me because I know why they do it. Because I did the same when I was young.

So yesterday, Oldest came over to me and asked me if we could speak in private.

Oldest - I read your blog post today and it made me cry.

Me - I'm sorry honey.

Oldest - You said that as long as I study hard and get a good education, then I can be anything I want, but that's not true is it.

Me - It is true, why would you say otherwise?

Oldest - Because when I grow up I want to be an actor, but how can I when they won't give me a chance? If they'd rather have whites be Asian characters then what is left for me?

Me - (speechless for a moment)This can change. If enough of us believe it's wrong and are willing to speak up, then we can change this.

Oldest - But you said to make it more relatable, they chose whites instead of Asians. I don't understand. What does that mean?

Me - It means they think the audience will be more sympathetic to and like the characters better if they are portrayed by whites instead of Asians.

Oldest - That's stupid. I watch Wizards of Waverly Place and iCarly and they are all white but I like them just fine. And True Jackson has a black girl as the main character and I like her too. Why would they think people wouldn't like Asians especially when the setting is all Asian?

Me - It's because they don't realize that what they are doing is racist.

Oldest - But some people are saying it's not racist and that it's stupid to be upset about this. My friend said who cares if there aren't any Asian actors in the leads, she's going to see it anyway.

Me - What do you think?

Oldest - I think its wrong. There aren't a lot of movies with Asians in them and I was really looking forward to this. Ever since Miley Cyrus did that bad chinky eye picture, I've realized that there aren't any famous Asian kids in movies and television. That's why I want to be an actor, so there can be more of us out there. But this makes me think it was just a stupid dream.

Me - No honey, never think that. You have to believe that the world can change and you have to believe that you can make a difference. Every single little thing a person does can make a difference. When people shrug their shoulders and say "what's the big deal" or "who cares" or "we can't do anything about it" their non-action has consequences. They are helping to continue racism. But every time someone speaks up and says "Hey that's not right," they are a ripple that reaches out to another and another until finally there are too many waves and people have to stand up and make a change.

Oldest - So you don't think it's a stupid dream?

Me - Absolutely not.

Oldest - Ok Mom, I believe you. I won't give up on my dream then.

Me - And I won't let you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whitewashing is Racist

Over at Justine Larbelestier's blog, there is an excellent post by Ah Yuan on the importance of diversity. It reminded me of why it is that I became a writer. Because like Ms. Yuan, I kept looking for books that I could relate to, with a protagonist that shared my cultural background. And it was virtually impossible to find.

Who am I? I'm a Korean American and like so many other Asian Americans and Asians living outside their motherlands, we are seen as the voiceless minority. How many times in my life have I heard someone yell out at me "Why don't you go back home to China, Japan or Vietnam, where you belong?" Why can't they understand that we are home? Ask a Korean American who has gone to visit Korea and ask them if they felt at home? How could they? They face a different type of discrimination. The kind that says you may look Asian but you can't speak the language and you can't really understand our culture.

It's so hard to understand that this place I call home and that I’m so proud of, doesn’t necessarily share its pride and pleasure of having the world's most diverse community of different races and cultures. You won't see a lot of minorities gracing the covers of books, magazines or major movies. Not that there isn't any, just not a lot. And definitely less Asians than any other minorities. And then there's the fact that there has been a history of whitewashing in publishing and in theater that continues to this very day. The question I can't help but ask is why? We are already the minority. Why marginalize us even more?

Like so many others, I felt physically betrayed by the first cover of Justine Larbelestier's Liar and tremendously relieved to see Bloomsbury respond positively to reader outrage.

Looking at these two covers side by side, you have to wonder at the reason behind why a publishing company would whitewash a character who is supposed to be a person of color. I've read so many articles and blog posts about the controversy and the one rationale that always bothers me is the one that says people won't buy books with people of color on the covers. When they say "people" they mean "white people" right? But the thing is, do they even try? Or do they throw one token POC cover out there, give it barely any support, see that it doesn't do well, and call it a day. Change happens when we make what was once so different the norm. Representing diversity is especially important for publishers of children's books. Books are the gateways for the imagination. But the ones in North America are apparently only gateways for white children as minority children are relegated to watching wistfully from the side. We are left hoping for a token side kick or small character that we can relate to. But not the main character. Because even if the book has a POC as the main character, we can't be on the cover cause we won't sell the book. That's what this controversy meant to minority readers.

And then they did it again. See Black-Eyed Susan's post on Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore. The fact that Bloomsbury has fixed both covers is a positive change. We can only hope that it is indicative of a larger change in the industry. But we still have more to fix.

Many of you might have caught the recent trailer for a Paramount movie called The Last Airbender. It is based on a Nickelodeon television series called Avatar: The Last Airbender which is a wonderful animated program that celebrates the diverse culture of Asia. The main character is Aang as the Avatar, a young temple disciple that is clearly based on Chinese culture. The next two characters are Katara and Sokka, based on Inuit culture. And the antagonist is Prince Zuko, clearly drawn from Japanese culture. When I heard that Paramount was making a movie version and had hired M. Night Shyamalan to direct, I was excited. But then I saw the cast list and I felt punched in the gut.

The movie has been completely whitewashed so that the rich culture of Asia that made the television series so wonderful is now represented by white actors. I can’t help but wonder what this really means. I’m sad for my children who were shocked to hear that Asian faces weren’t good enough to portray an Asian character. I’m sad for this culture that devalues the contributions of their Asian citizens. They believed that to make Airbender more relatable to the white majority, they needed to put white faces in Asian roles. At least the original casting of Prince Zuko with Jessie McCartney was replaced by Dev Patel. But notice the one main Asian actor happens to be the role of the antagonist.

When Twilight star Jackson Rathbone got the role as Sokka, he said "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."

Hopefully it won't be as blatantly racist as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Unfortunately, some people have responded with the fact that since these are anime characters drawn with the big freaky anime eyes, that they couldn't possibly be Asian. That because this is an American production, these characters are in fact white. I have no argument for this but one. Watch the video and you tell me. It provides scenes from the show compared to real life pictures of Asia.

What this movie and the book cover controversies show us is that the publishing industry and the entertainment industry is still prejudiced against non-whites. It's up to us, the public, to show them that this type of racism won't be tolerated. The outrage around the book covers caused Bloomsbury to change both book covers. But Paramount has refused to listen to the outcries of the fans. You can help by boycotting the film here. If you are on facebook then join this page. Help us send a message to Hollywood that whitewashing is racist.

Last year, Pat Buchanan said "This is a country built by white people." He conveniently failed to mention that it was also built on the blood, sweat and tears of the non-whites. The American Indians who were robbed of their land, the black slaves who worked this land, and the Chinese railroad workers who helped connect this land. Mr. Buchanan, we will no longer be overlooked. We will no longer be marginalized. We will no longer be the the forgotten people. We will take our place by your side and proudly claim that We are all American. You can't get rid of us and you can't pretend we don't exist. We won't tolerate it anymore. We will no longer be voiceless.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 38

The two younger girls had left their room looking like the battlefield after the war between the Barbies and the Stuffed Animals.

After yelling at them to come up and clean their room, I later overheard them talking on the stairs with Oldest.

Angus - Mommy is really crabby today.

Youngest - Yeah, she's yelly. She made me cry.

Angus - You always cry.

Youngest - I do not!

Angus - Well stay away from Mommy, or she'll yell her head off.

Oldest - That's cause I think she has that thing that makes her feel bad, you know the period.

Youngest - Like Daddy when he's in a bad mood.

Oldest - No silly, boys don't get periods!

Youngest - What do they get? Exclamation points?

They all bust out laughing and so did I. Seriously, who can be crabby after that?

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