Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DJ RAWO was born

Thanks to my friend DJ Kaze, DJ RAWO was born two weeks ago.  He will soon be posting his remixes on his podomatic site. Stay tuned.

Currently in the line-up:

1. Dark Side Without You (DJ RAWO Remix)
2. Skyfall (DJ RAWO Remix)
3. Losing Myself (DJ RAWO Remix)
4. Return to Mykonos Liberta (DJ RAWO remix)
5. Beneath Your Beautiful (DJ RAWO remix)


More to come... 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Excerpt

This has gotta be my new favorite paragraph from my upcoming novel, Beyond the Banyan Tree (represented by Sandy Lu at L. Perkins Agency):

Another half hour or so, and the car slowed and went over a bump. They made a left onto a narrow two-lane road, which gradually wound down a grade. He looked back and watched the buff serpent being swallowed by the clouds of dust. Like a flickering 8mm film, images of the motorcycle rides, how the hot sun had beaten down on his youthful skin, and how life, blooming with questions and answers and choices but no consequences, flashed through his mind. The road now slithered into silent oblivion as the driver narrated its demise. Or so it seemed. The irony rattled its scaly tail: he had left as a young man and returned a gnarled stranger. The vehicle made another left. Suddenly the jungle came into view.

I, The Hulk

I've gained about 15 pounds in the past 3 months, but I haven't really bought any new clothes (especially work clothes, which are expensive, so I am holding off getting new ones). Now I feel like I'm the Hulk ready to burst out of my shirts and pants (which I guarantee you won't be a pretty sight).

Granted, at 180 pounds I am not big at all. Not even close to being big, but still, when you consider I was a 130-lb weakling throughout my 20s and had held steady at between 160-165 in the past decade, this is quite an adjustment for me. I am now 50 lbs (or 38%) heavier than I was in college. Friends who haven't seen me since highschool or college are going to be shocked. The other day my mom was commenting on how my arms are now bigger than her thighs. That's just hilarious (hi Mom!)

My goal is to hit maybe 190# by next Spring.  The last 10 pounds is going to be a bitch.


What is old is new again

Blogging is like the new tweeting, except I can write more than 140 characters. To me, Twitter has always been a bit too ADD for me, both for the tweeters and the readers. It's really good for quick quips or fast news, or links to the actual article or news items such as a blog post. I see Twitter as one-liners and a quick launchpad for the whole show, which is more like blogs.

So, I've started blogging again, as you can see. It's been kind of cool. I've always felt uncomfortable with blogging as if I was writing novels. It's felt so permanent so I felt like I needed to project some kind of image -- a respectable author, perhaps. Now I realize, this is no different than Twitter, except I can write more than 140 characters. It's basically a place for me to brain-dump my thoughts. Every blog post is a snapshot of my thoughts and feelings of the moment. They are not meant to be "permanent," no more permanent than a tweet. What's interesting, however, is that there's an archive of all these thoughts and feelings at the moment, and to me, it's a great thing. You can't really search through your own tweets and see what stupid things you said two years ago, but you can with blogs. And it's fascinating sometimes, to see the mind/heart journey I've gone through over the years. It's fair to say that I am not quite the same person I was two years ago, or five, or ten. So to me, Blogger has become rather like a time capsule of my psyche, and it's been rather fascinating to go back in time and read what I had to say, who I was as a person.

So blog on, my friend. Blog on. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My new calling?

I have a new calling... or is it just a new obsession/hobby?  We'll see.

A friend of mine, DJ Kaze has introduced me to the fun of DJ'ing and music mashups. I'm not a particularly well trained musician but I've been dabbling in writing music for ever. But I found myself having more fun doing music with other people's stuff (pre-recorded material, remix kit, ready-to-use loops, etc.) I've "written" a few really cool pieces of music using ready-made loops and I got a lot of enjoyment doing that.  In a way, it's kind of cooking with pre-made ingredients instead of doing everything from scratch... so I can't call myself a master chef (or master songwriter), but music making is music making....

Anyway, I was just introduced to the world of harmonic mixing and mashup and I've been experimenting with software and the concept, and I have had so much fun over the weekend. My first few pieces were really crappy because I had no idea what I was doing. I was picking songs that didn't match, or they had no relevance to each other. Or I was mixing tracks that overpowered each other, or just overdubbed. But after a day of mucking with the tool and the songs in my library, I started to get a hang of it. My first mashup was a mix of Kelly Clarkson's Dark Side and David Gruetta's Without You (with Usher), and I was SURPRISED how well the two vocals and backing tracks mashed together, as if they were meant to be together. Clarkson's voice and Usher's also mashed well together and the songs' lyrics were perfectly matched too. I was like, wow, it's perfect!  Can I be so lucky?

My second project was mashing up too chill/techno pieces and wow, I was blown away. The result was amazing.

I am certainly hooked.

(I will post some of the remixes soon on my Podcast site -- stay tune, and give feedback, please)


Friday, July 19, 2013

Racism exists, sir!

I can't understand why people say racism doesn't exist, or that it's just a minor problem among a small group of "radical" people.

No it's not.

The problem is today, especially in a "civilized" country like the US, racism is hidden and not talked about or expressed freely and openly,  because it's deemed "inappropriate."  The whole hoopla about Paula Dean is a great example. The reason why she was canned and ostracized so publicly was that it was the politically correct thing to do, to make her an example, to prove that, "see, we're not racists!"  The sad truth is that many people still secretly agree with Paula Dean but they just don't want to blatantly admit to their narrow views on race. Just because it's not expressed openly doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The tree that fell still made a sound even if we couldn't hear it.

There are of course the "radicals" who we are so pleased to point out, so that we can justify and say, "see, only a few of these and they're crazy." Like the old white guy who shot a 13-year-old black kid to death for no reasons. Like George Zimmerman who we BELIEVED is a racist who killed Trayvon because he was black. Like the man who showed up at a rally with a black T-shirt with the words "NIGGER" on it. We pointed them out so that we could collectively say, "see, these are just exceptions. We are not like them."

But the fact is, many of us still holds on to certain perception or biases because of race. Maybe not exactly hate or phobia, but biases nonetheless solely based on race.  Ask yourself when you're in a bad neighborhood and you see a black man walking toward you, how would you react?  Now ask yourself if a white guy or Asian guy walk toward you, how differently would you react?

Biases are human nature. We can't help it; that's how many of us were brought up. But it doesn't mean that it's right, or that we should continue to subscribe to that kind of biases.

I still remember when I first dated an African-American. Trust me, my innate or learned biases were in full force, but I was attracted despite myself, and I decided to fight these biases and focus on the PERSON and not the skin color. It helps that I am a racial minority myself; and I asked myself, "How would I feel if someone rejects me simply because of my skin color or the shape of my eyes or any preconceived notion of what Asians are about?"  The answer was simple.

I still remember in college, my girlfriend and I were double-dating with this other couple who seemed very down to earth and all-American. We were having a good time when a couple of friends -- African-American -- said hello to us before they left the bar.  Teresa turned to us and said, "Why are you associated with them?"  I asked, "Why not? What's the matter?"  Teresa continued to say, "They're black!!!"  I said,  "I am Asian."   She said, "Yeah, I know, but you Asians are okay because you're smart and hardworking."

Needless to say, I never spoke with Teresa and her boyfriend anymore after that.

For me, I fully understand how someone can feel that way, but I can't understand why someone should continue to feel that way. We're all products of our culture, backgrounds and upbringing, but we're not prisoners of our past. Racism is not right, and is NEVER right -- it doesn't matter if you were brought up to think it was right. Think for yourself. Educate yourself. Better yet, go out and meet people and make friends with people of all races and nationalities and see for yourself there is absolutely nothing to fear or hate or dislike about someone simply based on race alone.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

NPR - Talk of the Nation

I did an interview with NPR's Talk of the Nation back in May.   Here's the audio, transcript, and also link to my original article. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Writing prompt

Amusing Park terror from Hell on July 4


Happy writing.

(post  your link here if you use the prompt for a story)


Road Rage

Oh no. After living and working in LA for over 18 months, I think I have turned into one of those road-rage maniacs.

Little things annoy me now, like people cutting me off, slow drivers (seriously, the speed limit is 55mph why are you going 40?), morons (which lane do you want -- pick one!), and assholes (don't tailgate me when I'm already going 80mph). Oh, I almost hit a motorcyclist today because he was zipping past cars after cars and I couldn't see him right behind me trying to pass.  These cyclists are disasters waiting to happen.

And just because you are riding motorcycles doesn't mean you can ignore the law. They don't stop at stop lights. They go between lanes. They go in and out of lanes. They don't turn on their turn signals. These daredevils are not just endangering themselves; they are threatening MY safety. Where are the cops?

No wonder I get so angry behind the wheels these days. About a month ago I witnessed an event that was worth a scene in Fast and the Furious. A speeding car zipping from lane to lane tried to past a slower car in the passing lane, so it made a fateful decision to go between the car and a semi. It hit the semi, making the truck spin a little. The top of that car flew off but the car kept going.  About a half mile away it finally stopped and two Latino kids scampered out of the car and dashed off. Gangs? Drugs? Illegal immigrants?  Who knows?  But that was a close call for me as I was right behind the semi.

Like I said, no wonder I have road rage. These people endanger me!

And don't even mention Asian drivers. The stereotype is true, and multiply that by a few million and that's LA. I'm ashamed to be an Asian driver myself, not because I am bad, but because will assume that I am bad and I can't blame them. Some of these Asian drivers are so bad that I wonder if they ever passed driving tests. Who put them on the road?

Road rage.

Yesterday I flipped off another driver. He honked at me, and I flipped him off again. I didn't care if he might have a gun. I just didn't. Then I sped up and passed the motherfucker at about 90mph. See you later! 

What is happening to me?  I've become this angry driver on the road. Slow drivers are particularly annoying, because they're neither dangerous (so I can't blame them) or careless. They're just in my way to get to where I need to go. Please, please, please observe the speed limit. Please. Just because you don't want to speed doesn't mean you have to go 20 mph under limit. That's super annoying.

Where are my chill pills?


Monday, July 15, 2013

Daily Writing Prompt

A US family live comfortably on $34K a year (genre: fantasy) #DailyPrompt

It's about Race

Racial issues continue to pop up, reminding us that we're far from being done with racism and racial conflicts in this country or the world. From Zimmerman/Trayvon to the KTVU's fake Asian names, we're constantly reminded that racism does exist in one form or another, often disguised as something else or a benign "joke." And sadly for many people, racism doesn't really matter or they don't really care because it doesn't touch them, or affect them. I understand human nature -- we only care about things that directly or indirect affect us. Many people in the US are not affected by racism, so why should they care? As an Asian-American, my point of view is obviously different.

But as some wise man once said, "if we keep silent, we're then just as guilty, as if we're now siding with the wrong."  Do you believe racism is wrong? Then speak up, even if racism doesn't affect you personally. In fact, your voice would carry even more weight, as you're demonstrating the truth, whether it affects you or not.  I often find men who help trumpeting women's issues, or straights who support gay causes, or white folks who champion civil rights help empower the causes, demonstrating these are universal issues, and that we're all one voice regardless of our backgrounds.

It's okay if you really are ambivalent because it doesn't affect you. I understand. But when you start to apologize for it or find a way to say "oh, it's not racism. It's just a joke" then you're getting really close to agreeing with racism or any of the society issues we're facing. And I will make sure that I'll let you know you're wrong.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Abundance Mentality

Of all the things I've learned in the last few years while facking challenges in my life, the "abundance mentality" is possibly one of the most inspiring and affirmative things. If you don't know what it is, Google it.

For the longest time, I've been living in a world, a culture that are deeply ingrained in the scarcity mentality. Resources are limited; jobs are scarce; there are only so many eligible singles out there! Don't miss your chance! How could I/we not buy into that and believe in that when we're constantly being rejected, when it seems so impossible to get and have what we want?

But you see, this mentality is like poison, and if you believe in the law of attraction, this deeply ingrained mindset of "scarcity" affects everything we do, even subconsciously. We start to live small and in fear. We doubt ourselves when we want to dream big. We believe that even if we try hard, we won't get what we want. We believe that there is only ONE perfect match for us, so we dread that we may now end up growing old alone because "the one has gotten away."

Oh the turmoil. The trauma. The limitation.

Instead, what I have learned is that I have to completely recondition myself and retrain myself (trust me, it's not easy to do -- it will probably take me a much longer time to fully internalize this) to think that there is an abundance of everything. Well, may be no unlimited, but certainly more than enough to go around.  Even if I still have to struggle to find a job, something to eat, a publisher who will buy my book, etc. by knowing that there is no shortage out there, and that it's just a matter of time, I get to live a much more relaxed, happy life by focusing on what I can control and do, and not worry about "there's nothing out there for me."

The "abundance mindset" is life-changing in many ways.