Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tokyo 1

On reading Literature (with a capital L)

I read this Atlantic Monthly article which was linked to in Smart Bitches Who Read Trashy Books. Which, although I didn't agree with it completely, romanticizing the past and past writers as giants of the literary world doesn't sit well. Essentializing anything doesn't sit well with me. However, the gist of the article, that the cycle of today's literary world is a self-referential cycle of producing high literature for the sake of being reviewed confirmed some of my own private suspicions. Even if I've been reading Chinese poetry and Chinese translations of manga for the last couple years, I still remember some things about the literary world.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


As I recall, this temple was dark and it was raining. Also this old man was sitting in front of this old dark building. And spoke to me in a voice like a frog. I think he was some tour guide that hated his job. He scared the everloving Jesus out of me.

Sannenzaka 6 or some such number that I don't remember

Monday, August 27, 2007

So I ask you

what is it in public restrooms that causes Republican politicians to catch the gay?

Certainly it can't be the decor.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

There's been some questions

About the colors. See my camera has a couple settings one's for scenery, which I've found makes everything bluer. So the picture up top's on "normal" and the one below it is on the "scenery" setting. I'm not sure which one I prefer, and I'm curious which one you prefer.

Also, as an aside, what do you think about the manipulation, through filter or digital means, or otherwise, of images. Sometimes it strikes me as cheating, although I know many photographers and artists use it often.



Wendao Jinxin wants some feedback on his thoughts about Beauty, particularly the beauty of women. I have my opinions, however I need some time to sort them out. You all are a lot smarter than me though, so go over and tell him what you think.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm just sayin'

when did this novel we're living in become one written by Lewis Carroll rather than George Orwell? I mean, 1984 made some sense, at least on a basic level.

Perhaps I should stop bitching. People in the US always blather on about how life is about being free. Clearly it's not, (nor is it the right to cable television) or most people on this earth aren't living. Life's about putting one foot in front of the other and doing what you need to do.

Hey, no one said this was a cheerful place. I mean, the name of this site is Love Songs are for Losers, for the love of Zombie Jesus. Alright, back to tormenting my family by playing The Flowers ALL DAY. Cause clearly that's really what life's all about.

Shoren-in 5

This is probably the picture I was happiest with out of all 150 something of em.

Shoren-in 4

Shoren=in 3

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm awesome.

Yesterday, despite my mother's 5 year old modem shorting out, I correctly installed and connected a router. I can be online all the time now. Be afraid.

Gratuitous Mandarin Pop Break

我的果汁分你一半-花兒樂隊 (I'll give you half my fruit juice- The Flowers)

For those of you Mandarin pop followers out there, yes I know they rip songs off other people. For some reason I don't care.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Heart of Darkness

My mother watched The Last King of Scotland over the last couple days, and I half watched it, mostly because I'm sleeping on the couch and I don't have my own room, so I'm kind of out there by default, and I have a hard time ignoring the television. However, I was only half watching because it was hard for me to be interested in the story of a white man's journey into the heart of black darkness, oops, I mean Africa.

There have been lots of movies about the white man and the (not-so) noble savage, and what he learns from them. So I'm not really going to get into the racial politics. It's all pretty clear. And there's nothing that I can say that hasn't been said already. However, I'm interested in how the countries in Africa, and I like how they're all sort of lumped into "Africa" with the possible exception of South Africa which we all know has some white people and Nelson Mandela, with no distinction between countries or even regions.

I swear to God, there's some part where the captions read "Speaking in African." African?! I'd love to see the movie where someone is seen speaking "European" and I'd dearly love to know what that would sound like.

Frothing at the mouth aside, I was primarily struck with even in our supposedly post-colonialist age, we have a movie which seems so unabashedly to ape Heart of Darkness. Interestingly, the time period, although not contemporary, depicts Uganda in the post colonial age, struggling with its national identity. Not that we get a lot of focus on that from the film.

Africa, it seems, remains the go-to continent for films about savagery.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Things which make me happy

I've been rather depressed. Too much inaction, not enough to do, etc. etc. So I've put some active effort into finding things that amuse you. If you're as grumpy as I am about the crappy weather, this ought to put a smile on your face. I really like them. They're not great art, but hey, they make me happy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bad Movies

Note, most of this will be kind of incomprehensible if you have never seen Better Luck Tomorrow.

I think Virginia Woolf said something about the mediocre pieces of a great writer are often better able to shed light on their strengths and weaknesses than their great works. (Most of my books are still in storage so I can't look it up and quote it.) Great works are often too wonderful and complicated, filling us with emotions that aren't really easy to digest and analyze. The Host and Paprika are both movies that I really liked recently and I probably won't have anything intelligent to say about them until I see them 5 times at least.

However bad movies or mediocre movies are something else again. It's easier to judge where they work and where they fall short. For example, last night, I watched Fast and Furious 3, as I recently observed to someone, it's hard to think of a movie #3 that's actually good, The Matrix 3, Rush Hour 3 the same rule can be observed with Fast and Furious 3. Where it worked was that the movie looked pretty good. After seeing two of Justin Lin's movies, it was interesting to see some recurring themes. There's a certain humor about how he approaches high school, and the opening credits were essentially to me a big budget repeat of a similar scene in Better Luck Tomorrow. The soundtrack as usual was slightly different and kind of interesting. Justin Lin also seems to make really good use of the locations he's in. And he takes advantage of Tokyo quite a bit. Visually, and cinemotographically the film looks fantastic. The script has some rather unexpected philosphizing, and as usual, his movies look great. Most of the money was put into the look of the movie, which honestly in a movie like this is how it should be. Lin also likes to put sort of iconic older figures in his movie, so Sammo Hung appears, as does the guy who invented drifting. Their presence does add a certain depth and make the whole affair a bit more interesting.

The downside was the casting of the main character. Actually, in both films, the actor who played the lead was not an incredibly charismatic guy. However Perry Shen's a lot better at conveying a basic range of emotions than Lucas Black, who unfortunately seems to have his mouth hanging open most of the time, and only two expressions. That's not a bad thing necessarily, however he doesn't really have the charisma to make me believe that he's a chick magnet which he's supposed to be. When you're being outshone by Bow Wow playing your snappy black sidekick, you have problems. Another thing that people, notably Oliver Wang, have noted about Lin's work is that women are generally placemarkers or tokens, both as a presence and as tokens of status. The girl is less important than what possessing her means. Again, in a movie like Fast and Furious 3, that's to be expected. What's also interesting is the parallels between The Girl in Better Luck Tomorrow and The Girl in this movie. Both of them occupy a rather ambiguous place in terms of ethnicity. One's adopted, the other one is hapa, raised in Japan. The first time it was kind of interesting. However repeating it just seems kind of lazy. He doesn't want to go to the trouble of defining her character, so making her mysterious and tragic is a lazy way to not go into it much. So chalk another one up to that theory.

In closing, the movie wasn't really all that bad. It wasn't that great either. At least it didn't have Paul Walker.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Conversations from home Round 2

After the second time my mother rented Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift for me. (I didn't get around to watching it before I left for Portland.)

My mother: Are you going to watch it?
Me: Well, maybe later.
My mother: If you don't watch it this time, I'm not getting it again. They're going to think I have a crush on somebody.

Sannenzaka 4

Sannenzaka 3

Sannenzaka 2

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sannenzaka 1

Kiyomizu Temple 5

I'm surprised I didn't break my camera taking pictures of the sun. Surely my parents taught me better than this?

Kiyomizu Temple 4

Conversations from home

My mother (on the phone to the on-call nurse): Well, my toe is all black and bruised, but I don't think it's swollen.
The Loveless Cynic (aka the obnoxious daughter): It's swollen.
My mother: Well, my daughter says it's swollen, but I don't think it is.
The Loveless Cynic: It is.
My mother: Well, I don't know. My other toe looks pretty fat.
The Loveless Cynic: Your toe is swollen, Mom.

Linkin' Park (I really couldn't help myself. I'm sorry.)

A couple things I've liked recently. Skeptical Brotha's theory about a Hillary Rodham Clinton ticket, with another upper class white woman.

And for something completely different petitpoussin's train ride with the Spawn of Satan. Amusing and yet horrifying.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kiyomizu Temple 3

You know, the radio antenna is a sacred artifact of my people.

Kiyomizu Temple 2

Kiyomizu Temple

How did I avoid all the tourists you ask? I took a lot of pictures of the sky.

What the Hands Do About All of These Parts: Advice from a 14-Year-Old Friend

by Lois Ann Yamanaka
From "Parts", Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre

Take the needle. Take it.
Cut your arm. Cut.
See. You feel no pain
'cause you already so-wa inside.
Keep going. Make plenny lines,
as much as you can take.
Feel good, yeah?
Feel icy, yeah,
when the needle break your skin?
Push um deep, the needle,
till you see the white part
of your meat. Spread um--
spread the cut you just made
before the blood get hard.
Look inside. Trippy, yeah,
the small blood drops?
How's your head?
Feeling white?
Kind of gray, yeah the feeling?
Going away, the pain inside,
'cause you getting numb.
Your whole body not throbbing yet?
I remember the first time
I did this. Felt so good
when my whole body was going
and the blood started dripping
on my leg and my friend
wen' tell me taste um,
'cause that's me coming out
of myself. Tasted like rust.
And I wen' forget about all the shit
that was happening to me.
My father took me emergency that day.
That was the first time
I seen him cry.
No. No need towel.
Lie down. Let the blood
drip on the sidewalk.
Then we write her name
with the blood
and when dry,
she going know
you was here
and she going know
how much you love her.
It's Depressing Poetry Day today. However, sarcasm aside, I like this poem a lot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Conversations from the kitchen table

so this afternoon, my mother and I were sitting eating guacamole. My sister had a stomach ache, and so she didn't finish the turkey that she was eating and my mother started putting the turkey away. Then she commented, When I was buying it, the checker at the store is from Indonesia, and he asked what we did with it. And I said we put it on bread. And he said that in Indonesia they grind it up with ice and add sugar."

Then she added, "My dad used to do that, he said it was Filipino style, to add sugar and make it sweet."

At which point, I said "Turkey sorbet?!"

And she said, "No, avocado!"

I said "Oh."

She said "The savior faire of the international traveller, you didn't even bat an eye."

And then we both sat next to each other silently, trying not to choke on what we were eating for the laughter.

Note: this may not be as funny as if you were actually there. But I feel compelled to preserve it for posterity nontheless.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fushimi Inari

It was raining, and the light was bad. So my pictures really don't do it justice.

Kyoto Station 2

Whenever I'm home

I always have to fight the urge to follow people around the house, waving my hands in the air, shouting "I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored." Such behavior, I'm fairly sure, would secure me a speedy eviction from the house.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I would just like everyone to know

I have hated Joe Lieberman since he ran for VP back in the day. I have yelled at him while my mother was watching CSPAN, way way back in the day, before he became the "tie breaker". (He was still kissing military and Republican ass then, but that doesn't signify.)

In short, suckers, I hated Joe Lieberman before it was cool. And I just decided to let you all know for no reason whatsoever.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Y'know the thing is

I accept that America is an empire, and an unjust unrighteous one at that. However, what I can't get over is, as an empire, we really suck. We can't do anything right. Say what you will about the British Empire, but they oppressed people with efficiency.

We can't even do that without ridiculous numbers of our own people getting killed.

Kyoto 2


as you may have noticed, I like taking pictures of the sky. I love the sky in Kyoto best of all.

Bye Hangzhou, and bye China

next up, Japan.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who I'm reading

So long long long ago and far away, Vox tagged me for the who I'm reading meme, but I was in the process of preparing for the vacation that I've already talked so much about, and where all these pictures came from. So I didn't really have time to think about it much.

Unlike most other people, I don't have a blogroll of godlike proportions. And most of these people have already been tagged. But hey, I don't get tagged for a meme very often, so why not? I'll try to pick some people who aren't super ubiquitous.

1. I've been reading a lot of Rachel's Tavern. (Did I say I was going to pick people who aren't super ubiquitous, sorry, I can't help myself.) I like thinking about how race is constructed, and she's usually got something for me.

2. Sepia Mutiny. I don't agree with it all the time and most of the desi pop culture references I don't get. However, it's a damned fine blog and I find a lot of what's posted there very interesting. I often wonder when reading it, "Why can't we (East Asian Americans) do something like this?"

3. I read Vox ex Machina. This smacks of sheer suckuppery, (and self referentiality) but it's true. Vox always meticulously follows through on news stories and link roundups. Between her and Magniloquence I'm really set for life. I'm a lazy little netizen. Vox and Mag are kind of like Tivo for blogs. (Actually I've never even seen Tivo, but I've been told by several reputable commercials that it's very convenient, so I'll go with that analogy anyway.)

4. Having Read the Fine Print. It's kind of hard to describe why I like this blog. However, it makes me think, and I sometimes read the posts several times in order to make sense of them.

5. Oh and finally, I snagged this from Little Light's blogroll. I don't like romance novels, (you might infer this from the handle) which is the main subject of Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books, however I love well written and hilarious book reviews almost as much as I dislike music reviews.

so that's that. I've got a job interview tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Hangzhou 3

Hangzhou 2

More pictures from Hangzhou

Asian actors who have made my list

1. Rob Schneider, for those of you who don't know, he's part Asian. Enough said.

2. Jet Li, Jet Li, how could you? Not only are you going to be the villain in the Mummy 3, you're now in some horrible movie with that white guy from The Transporter. You quit doing movies like Fearless for this?

3. Jackie Chan, Rush Hour. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Fool me three times...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Perhaps I'm just strange

but really, I don't understand TV sometimes. On a Sunday, the last thing I want to watch is a Law and Order Special Victims Unit freaking MARATHON.

I'm not sure what gives with the American prurient fascination with watching white women get raped and murdered, and showing the process and the aftermath in loving detail. The subject matter is not new and shocking anymore. Maybe that's the most depressing part, every crime show does one, and most of them do one two or three times a month. But despite the repetition, there, this trend doesn't show signs of abating any time soon.

The Deliverymen's Uprising

Thanks to angryasianman, I read this interesting article in the NYT about Chinese deliverymen in New York, and how groups of them are suing restaurants for mistreatment, and being underpaid. I've heard a lot of stories of deliverymen getting beaten and killed, thanks of course to Angry Asian Man.

The article is a pretty good one, as far as I can tell. It's clearly quite sympathetic to the deliverymen, while at the same time telling one of the owner's side of the story. Both owners and deliverymen are Asian immigrants, the owner in question being a refugee from Cambodia, and the deliverymen are Chinese immigrants, in large part from Fujian, and some undocumented.

I don't know if uprising is the best word. The author uses words like uprising and revolt, to describe the deliverymen's actions. I'm not sure if they're accurate or not, they are loaded with meaning though.

Another thing I found interesting was that Mexican deliverymen to a nearby restaurant have also filed a lawsuit against another restaurant. Kai Chang among others, has made the case that undocumented immigration is an area in which Asian Americans and Latinos can work together. This article seems to indicate something similar.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More West Lake

The West Lake

Yuyuan 3

In which the Loveless Cynic hates on America

not that I don't do this all the time. But I took my computer to Best Buy to get more RAM. In the process, my last name underwent a series of metamorphoses.

Let's say my name to start out with was, oh, Kawasaki. For some reason, my mother's account has her listed as Kasasaki. And by the time I got my computer two days later, the name on the folder with the RAM card in it read Kasakawa. Making it all but unrecognizable to me.

Perhaps this isn't such a big deal for most of you. But I'm oversensitive and irritable. I have a longish and somewhat difficult, somewhat ethnic last name, I should be used to this. But it still bothers me every time.

There are enough people in America with ethnic last names, we should be able to get them right.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Yuyuan 2

sometimes, when I'm taking pictures, you get the feeling that you're seeing exactly what whoever made the place wanted you to see. This picture was definitely one of those.

Yuyuan Garden

The Waitan, Shanghai

The funny thing about procrastination

is you always feel so guilty about not being productive, that when you actually do something, it feels so much better than to not do it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

There are rich people

and there are poor people. And sometimes they live next door to each other.

And on to Shanghai

Bye Beijing

The last Beijing picture. There might be a few B-sides here and there, but for all intents and purposes this is it. Appropriately enough, this picture was taken in the Summer Palace, it's Little Suzhou, a place designed to look like real Suzhou in the south. Honestly I didn't like it much, it reminded me a little too much of Disneyland for comfort. I liked this picture though.

Nerds vs. FOBs

So, I made a private resolution to myself, and possibly Magniloquence, that I would link more. And what does the blogoverse reward me with but a splendid confluence of entries. Ahem. Clearly I need to use or lose the SAT words, whatever.

There's a NY Times article about race and nerds. I haven't read it yet. But I've read two blog entries directly responding to the article. One at Sepia Mutiny and one at Rachel's Tavern.

Rachel reads nerdiness against whiteness. Examining the question of whether acting nerdy for people of color is acting white. And concludes, at least in the case of black nerds, Urkel you are clearly alive and well in the cultural imaginary, that it is not the same thing. There's something else other than whiteness that is not cool about nerds.

Ennis at Sepia Mutiny (who I like a lot a lot) raises another interesting point, that dovetails rather neatly with what Rachel is talking about. In a discussion of race and nerdiness, Asians have to be front and center, in my opinion by necessity, we're located right at the confluence of both things. Ennis's point is a good one, I think.

Growing up in New York City, we had nerds of all colors, sizes, shapes and flavors, but the median nerd was probably an immigrant kid of some sort. It didn’t matter where your parents came from, just that they weren’t born here and that you yourself may have emigrated as a kid.

Since I went to a geek high school, I grew up with Eastern European nerds, tons and tons of east Asian nerds, and yes, brown nerds. And it wasn’t about people definingthemselves against blackness — African nerds with their white short-sleeve shirts, slacks and ramrod straight posture were just as nerdy as an IITian or MITian around. [Which is precisely why “blackness” gets tricky when talking about immigrants - are you going to call African immigrants Oreos just because they don’t fit stereotypes of “black Americans”?]

As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to argue that brown nerds aren’t hyperwhite but ultrabrown. They weren’t trying to emulate the squarer parts of American culture, in fact they were uberdesi . They wore polyester short-sleeve shirts, coke bottle glasses, were very earnest and spoke grammatical english. And yes, before somebody brings up the distinction, they were not just geeks but pukka nerds.

However, brown nerds (and immigrant nerds in general) fall outside of the black-white dichotomy that Bucholtz sees at the heart of nerdiness. They’re not trying to “deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white,” they’re simply not white. Sure, that means that they don’t acquire the popular culture markers of being cool, many of which have to do with African-American culture, but that didn’t make them any closer to white culture either.

The overlap between FOB and nerd is a fascinating one to explore. I'm not convinced that they are the same thing. FOBs and nerds are most certainly both uncool. And there are nerds who are FOBs, however there are nerds who are not FOBs. Conversely there are FOBs who are not nerds. I.e. the Korean guys in puffy vests who smoked too much and stood around together in the hallways of my high school. FOBs perhaps, but nerds definitely not. The conflation of geek and nerd may come from the equation of Americanization and cool and immigrant = not cool. Which is where the term "boater" comes from, overtly Asian and not cool. I would even argue that the term "ghetto"(adj.) functions in a similar way.

However, Ennis makes an excellent point, that Asian nerds, and in particular immigrant nerds do not conform to American culture, as per the findings of this study (apparently.) What this means in my opinion, I'm not sure exactly, I'll have to think more about it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

As you may notice

I have added a link on the side, where you can look at all the pictures I have taken over the last couple years, and then some.

more Beihai

Beihai Park revisited (literally)

Oh Facebook

Apparently some idiots made an Anti-Asian Facebook group. Angry Asian Man as usual has a nice group of links covering the story.

I think most people will agree that this is quite fucked up. (If you're not willing to admit this, I'm quite willing to come to your home and beat you over the head with a hardcover copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.)

Why is it that when something goes wrong in America, we always blame the "foreigners"?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I generally

don't link to stuff I like as much as I should. But I suspect that no one actually reads the things I link to. However, following Magniloquence's linking was really what got me started reading a lot. So maybe I should do it more often.

Black Amazon's on fire today. She's given me a lot to think about.

Alas a Blog's talk about Iraqi's resistance fighters as freedom fighters. Although honestly, I've kind of been thinking along the same ways privately for a long time. But it was nice to hear someone else point out its conspicuous absence from public discourse. And I just used the word discourse, someone shoot me.

And for those of you who are into that kind of thing. Vox Ex Machina talks about racist cartoons, in relation to Tin Tin, which made me discover that I in fact have a lot to say about Tin Tin. Make of this what you will.

My "hometown" is too damn small.

Because since I came back from Portland, I run into someone I know from high school every week. Which, I guess would be ok if we had something to say to each other, or if I used to know them. But we don't and I didn't, or at least not very well.

I'm a jerk. I'm well aware. If I see someone that I know, but that I don't have anything to say to anymore, I just won't say anything. I assume that person wouldn't remember me anyway.

Perhaps this is misanthropic of me, but I really feel it's better than the awkward small talk that results from saying hello.

And another bridge picture

A Bridge