Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fighting Disease

I like science okay, but sometimes it's hard to understand the information. That's why I think visual aids can help. For my science homework, I had to draw pictures of how the body reacts when a pathogen infects the body, I got kind of carried away, and decided to learn on my own how to use Flash.  After a few hours, I got the hang of it and created this flash animation about pathogens, antigens and antibodies.

Hope you all learn some science today!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Asian/Asian American Feature Movies that Kids will Enjoy

The LA Asian Pacific Film Festival is starting in a couple of weeks. We hope to see some of the movies showcased there. Like any American kid, we like the many of the mainstream American movies for kids. You all know how I am obsessing over the Hunger Games right now.

But beyond mainstream American movies, we get exposed to some Asian/Asian American movies because our parents like to watch them. While thinking about some of those movies, we thought it might be useful to start to compile a list of Asian/ Asian American movies that kids would like to watch. But sadly, it seems that there aren't that many such movies that are truly fun for kids, or about kids. But here are a few, and we hope that kids don't miss them because they are really good and give people a window into the lively Asian Pacific/Asian American communities.

We start with the movies that actually have kids featured in them, moving on to more general movies.

Feature Films: 

My mom watched this movie one night, and liked it so much that she had me watch it with her the next.  It's about Xiaochun, a young violin prodigy whose supportive and loving single dad takes him to Beijing in hopes of finding a violin teacher and a better life for him.  I cried so many times during this movie, but it isn't really sad; I just have a problem with crying during films that make me happy (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., etc.).  If you're looking for a heartwarming film, watch it.  If you're not, watch it anyways.  You can thank us later. Directed by Kaige Chen

Ping Pong Playa.
This is about a trash talking Chinese American NBA star wannabe who can't do anything right compared to his older brother. But, when his mom and brother are injured in an accident he caused, he has to take over the family after school ping pong program and compete (with the encouragement from kids he taught ping pong to) for a ping pong championship for his community's and his own pride. The movie is so very funny and has a lot of heart. We watch it repeatedly and would recommend it to everyone. Directed by Jessica Yu, Jimmy Tsai starring Jimmy Tsai, Andrew Vo and Khary Payton(the black dude who speaks Chinese better than the Chinese dude).

 Whale Rider: This is stretching it as a movie about Asians, but since the movie is about a native girl from New Zealand, which is on the Pacific Rim, we'll make it count. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai, a 12-year-old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of her tribe. Her grandfather Koro believes that this is a role reserved for males only. After rejecting Pai repeatedly, Pai finally shows Koro why she is the "whale rider" and deserves to be the tribe leader. This is a wonderful and inspiring movie that seeks to destroy many cultures' age old prejudice against girls.

A Great Wall
Middle aged Leo Fang is passed up for promotion. In anger, he quits his job and takes his wife and teenage son played by Kelvin Han Yee. Mainland China to visit his relatives, the Chao's for a vacation. The clash of cultures, between the Asian American and Chinese cultures leads to misunderstanding and confusion.  The movie ends with a ping pong match between the American teen and the Chinese teen. The brashy American boy got schooled. Directed and stars Peter Wang. The Chinese cast was great too, but I can't find out much about them.

Bend it Like Beckham
It's been a while since I've watched this movie, but I've seen it at least a few times at this point.  And okay, maybe it isn't exactly an Asian-American film.  But it is about an Indian British girl whose love of soccer seems to be getting in the way of her orthodox Sikh parents' expectations for her to become a nice, Indian housewife.  It's a great girl-power movie to watch with your friends. Starring Parminder Nagra, and Keira Knightley.

Rumble in the Bronx
This is a Hong Kong martial arts comedy directed by Stanley Tong starring Jackie Chan and Anita Mui. It's about a young man visiting and helping in his uncle's in New York City convenience store finds himself forced to fight a street gang and the mob with his martial art skills. It's a fun romp.  One of the most entertaining scenes features Jackie's new aunt, an African American woman, singing in Cantonese.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to find out who played her. Hilarious. We should mention that other Jackie Chan movies are kid friendly too, such as Karate Kid, Shanghai Noon, Rush Hour, etc.

White on Rice
White on Rice documents 40-year-old Hajime's numerous attempts to find a girlfriend while living with his sister and her husband and son.  Unfortunately, when he falls in love with Ramona, his brother-in-law's niece and co-worker's girlfriend, things only go from bad to worse...Watch this if you're looking for a good laugh and family movie. Directed by Dave Boyle, and starring Hiroshi Watanabe, James Kyson Lee, and Lynn Chen. We love Lynn Chen.

Bride and Prejudice
This is a Bollywood musical version of Jane Austen's awesomely timeless novel. We blogged about in an earlier post and highly recommend it to viewers 10 and above. Directed by Gurinder Chadha who also directed Bend it Like Beckham, and starring Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson who plays handsome and haughty Mr. Darcy really well.

Shall We Dance Shall we ダンス? Sharu wi Dansu? (THIS IS AMAZING!!! One of the funniest movies I've seen.  Much better than the American version). This is a Japanese film with subtitles. Directed by Masayuki Suo, it portrays asuccessful but unhappy Japanese accountant who finds the missing passion in his life when he begins to secretly take ballroom dance lessons. His band of dance class classmates make the movie entertaining and fun.  Starring Kôji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari and Naoto Takenaka.

 The Wedding Banquet
The perfect balance between humor and touchy subject, The Wedding Banquet tells the tale of Wai-Tung, a Chinese man living in Manhattan, whose parents are setting him up with numerous young women in the hopes that he will marry and bear them grandchildren--but it isn't as simple as that: Wai-Tung is gay, and happily in love with his roommate, Simon.  He enlists the help of his female tenant, Wei-Wei, to act as his fiancee when his parents decide to pay an unexpected visit.  To all readers who are under 17, this movie is rated R. It is however, funny, heart warming and touching. Directed by Taiwanese director Ang Lee and stars Winston Chao, May Chin, Ah Lei Gua, Sihung Lung, and Mitchell Lichtenstein.

Flower Drum Song (I think this is the weirdest movie EVER, but as the first Asian American musical about the lives and romances of Chinese Americans in San Francisco, we think it deserves a mention. It's a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta and Benson Fong The movie is a milestone in portraying Asian Americans, but it is also dated and difficult to appreciate by modern American kids.

It is surprising to us that so few features films are made for, or about Asian/Asian American kids. So, all you filmmakers and producers out there, think about this growing cool Asian kids market.  We may have missed many good Asian/Asian American movies for kids.  If  you know of any, please let us know by commenting below.  We'd like to check them out.

Now, anime and animation is another story.  They are full of stories with Asian themes and Asian kids in them. We will mention a few of our favorites at a different time.

Also, it seems that many Asian filmmakers have gone on to do indie movies, great documentaries and TV episodes on their own through youtube, etc.  There are some hilarious and good ones out there, but again, more on those later.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Food Faces

So, many people see famous people's faces in their food, ranging from Jesus potato chips, to jellybeans with Kate Middleton's face on it. There's even a potato that supposedly looks like Jay Leno and a rotten grape and grilled cheese sandwich with that looks like the Virgin Mary. The jellybean with Kate Middleton's face on it is selling for over $800! The grilled cheese sandwich that has the image of the Virgin Mary was sold for $28,000!

Kate Middleton Jellybean
Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese

Virgin Mary Rotten Grape
Jesus Potato Chip

Jay Leno Potato

So how much do you think we could get for these Asian celebrity food faces we found while eating and cooking?

The face was actually there when
we peeled the potato. We didn't
do it purposely.
Does the potato look like
Jeremy Lin? 

Red Bean Bao

Does Sammo Hung look
like this bao?

Feel free to email us pictures of food faces you find.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We ran into Jackie Chan!

This picture is from a couple of years ago, but it is still cool. That winter, we took our grandparents to have dinner at Enoteca Drago, an Italian restaurant where my mom won a gift certificate for from a school silent auction event.

I don't remember if the food was any good any more, but when we came out of the restaurant, we ran into a group of people surrounding Jackie Chan asking to take a picture with him. His representative was trying to push everyone away, but when Jackie Chan saw me and my sister, he said to his representative "They are just kids.  Let me take a picture with them".

So, we got to take a picture with Jackie Chan! He seems to be a really nice guy.  We've always liked him in movies such as Rumble in the Bronx, Karate Kid, Shanghai Noon, The Drunken Master, Rush Hour 1,2,3 etc.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Asian Italian

When we were in Italy, we tried to look for signs of Asian culture in the local scene. There were tons of of Asian tourists who came in tour groups or who were traveling on their own. It was nice to hear Chinese, Korean, and Japanese spoken.

The Asian tourists are funny though. They seem to want to avoid the sun at all costs.  They have their umbrellas, and other cover . . . so they can stay out of the sun.

Asian lady at the Roman Forum.

Unlike Los Angeles though, aside from the tourists, you can hardly see anything that shows Asian culture has arrived in Italy. . . . But wait, we found a Korean church in Rome.

And, there were some Chinese restaurants.  When we took a look at their menus though, we were fearful about actually trying the food. They have prociutto with melon on their menus.  Wonder if they have Moo Goo Gai Pan in pesto sauce too. Maybe that's the future of new fusion cuisine.

Wish we had soy sauce though!

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Italy and Back

You might be wondering why we haven't blogged for a while.  Well, it was spring break for us. We just transferred to a new school this year, so this was the first time our spring break lasted two weeks instead of one.  Our dad decided that he wanted to take advantage of this break to do something on his bucket list: He wanted to see Rome and Florence.  As a former architect, he's been dying to see all the architectural wonders Italy has to offer.  We all went to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Pantheon, and of all things, dad wanted to see Brunelleschi's Dome in Florence.

Inside the Colosseum

I almost didn't make the trip.  I got into a fight with my parents the day before the trip, and it escalated to the point that they actually threatened to leave me in Los Angeles with my grandparents.  I eventually managed to get my act together enough for them to be willing to take me with them.  Close call.

We spent the first few days wandering around Rome and being tourists: armed with Rick Steves' Rome 2012, toting around a large camera, multiple maps, and backpacks and trying gelato everywhere we went.  We took pictures of the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum, and admired the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the amazing collection at the Vatican museum.  We also got to see the Vatican documents, many of which I actually learned about in my AP European History class this year (YES, so it IS worth something!).

Eating Gelati at Grom's in Florence
Setting aside the awesomeness of the monuments, though, Rome is basically one huge tourist trap.  The food really wasn't that impressive and some of the streets smell like sewer.  Still, it ain't got nothing on Florence: if Rome is a tourist trap, Florence is a tourist zoo.  It's got some amazing sights to see, of course.  The Duomo (Brunelleschi's dome), the Medici Palace, the Ufizzi, and the Ponte Vecchio were definitely impressive.  I even got to see some of the paintings and sculptures in my history textbooks!

School of Athens by Raphael

I think it'd be a better idea to visit Rome and Florence when it isn't tourist season though--and remember, it isn't even summer yet!  My favorite part of the trip was visiting lesser-known towns.  While in Florence, we took a bus up to the small town of Fiesole.  It's nestled in the Tuscan hills, way above all of the tourist attractions and museums in Florence.  We hiked up a hill overlooking Tuscany and ate at a very good restaurant with a nice view.  That was the best meal I had the entire trip.

We also spent a couple of days in Manarola, Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre is a collection of 5 small towns about a two hour's train ride north of Florence.  The towns are all very walkable and within a short distance of each other.  Manarola is the second town, and, in my opinion, the best.  It was so nice to be able to take a break from being tourists and relax by the sea. Because we had a kitchen in Cinque Terre, we got to eat some Shin Ramen that we hauled all the way from Los Angeles! It's still pasta, but not Italian pasta.
All in all, Italy was great and we had a lot of fun visiting the historical landmarks and eating gelato (oh boy, I gained like 5 lbs).  Still, I'm very relieved to be back home.  You'd think that internet should be freely available everywhere, but in Italy, it was very expensive to get wi-fi, and so we didn't use it much beyond checking our email.  I was also warned to not text because texting and calling gets pricey there. We definitely didn't get to blog, or go on Facebook.  Now that we're back, yay! We have internet! and cell phone! :D