tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:/posts SAMURAI, KNIGHTs + COWBOYs 2016-07-08T02:06:32Z monirom tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/584217 2013-06-15T06:36:22Z 2013-10-08T17:26:26Z WHAT IF THE UNHAPPINESS GENERATED by iOS7 (BETA) is REALLY A GENIUS MARKETING PLOY?

Is iOS7 a PR Stunt? Classic Coke Drinkers Want to Know.

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, and with the revelation that the NSA’s PRISM system was used “to gain access to the private communications of users of nine popular Internet services” — anything seems possible.

With this in mind, I couldn’t help but think that the “user” unhappiness with the beta release of iOS7, Apple’s new operating system, was engineered. Even planned. Much like the launch of New Coke.

First let me regale you with the history of New Coke and then I’ll draw obvious comparisons and conclusions, and maybe you’ll start to believe my twisted theory.

In case you were just a twinkle in your fathers eye back in the mid 80's the New Coke story goes something like this…


“New Coke was the reformulation of Coca-Cola introduced in 1985 by the Coca-Cola Company to replace the original formula of its flagshipsoft drink, Coca-Cola (also called Coke). New Coke originally had no separate name of its own, but was simply known as “the new taste of Coca-Cola” until 1992 when it was renamed Coca-Cola II.
The American public’s reaction to the change was negative and the new cola was a major marketing failure. The subsequent reintroduction of Coke’s original formula, re-branded as “Coca-Cola Classic”, resulted in a significant gain in sales. This led to speculation that the introduction of the New Coke formula was just a marketing ploy; however the company has always claimed it was merely an attempt to replace the original product.”
~ Wikipedia Excerpt

In case you didn’t read between the lines:

  1. After initial rollout and acceptance of New Coke, there was a huge backlash from customers, specifically from a very vocal Southern minority who viewed the beverage as a distinct part of the region’s identity. (Coca-Cola’s headquarters is based in Altlanta, Georgia.)
  2. These unhappy drinkers viewed the company’s decision to change the formula as another surrender to the “Yankees”. They and others like them showed their unhappiness by bombing Coca-Cola’s headquarters with 400,000-plus calls and letters. Remember the internet did not yet exist in the form that we know it today.
  3. Other drinkers joined the growing cacophony of voices in expressing their displeasure. Newspaper columnists wrote about the New Coke formula, chastising both the taste and the Coca-Cola executives who made the decision to change said formula. Talk-show hosts used it as fodder for opening monologues. Even Fidel Castro denounced the New Coke. There were boycotts and public protests, with cases of the New Coke being poured out in the streets.
  4. A grassroots movement was organized by aspiring PR noobie, Gay Mullins, in an effort to get the old formula back into the public’s hands.
  5. Regional bottlers, who had once applauded the move as a bold tactic to stave off the encroaching upstart Pepsi, filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola corporate.

All of this fuss over carbonated sugar water.

(caption: New Coke was introduced to compete against the sweeter competitor, Pepsi.)

In the end, the board of Coca-Cola changed their minds and brought back the old formula branding it “Coke Classic” and sold it right along side the “New Coke” — which even some Coca-Cola loyalists loved and continued to drink. By years end, Coke Classic outsold both New Coke and Pepsi and six months after reintroduction sales increased “more than twice the rate of Pepsi’s.”

Years later, Sergio Zyman (Coke’s Marketing Vice-President) talking about the New Coke expereince was quoted saying, “Yes, it infuriated the public, cost a ton of money and lasted only 77 days before we reintroduced Coca-Cola Classic. Still, New Coke was a success because it revitalized the brand and reattached the public to Coke.”

In essence, Coca-Cola had it’s cake and ate it too.

Some people, even those in the Marketing and PR, believed the results of this fiasco were too good to be coincidence and many entertained that the conspiracy theories could have merit — whether or not Coke-Cola did it on purpose. Former CEO Donald R. Keogh refuted these theories stating, “We’re not that dumb, and we’re not that smart.”

The company currently refutes these theories on it’s own web site, publishing their version of the New Coke saga.


Now if you reread the previous paragraphs, swapping out the words Android for Pepsi, iOS7 for New Coke, newspapers for bloggers/new media, Apple for Coca-Cola — perhaps you’ll start thinking like I do.

What if the release of iOS7 Beta was done purposely to fuel the flames of discontent? What if it was done to increase news coveragegenerate hateful tweets, inspire I hate iOS7 facebook pagesJonyIveRedesignsThings tumblrs and generally keep us focused on the flaws until the actual, final, ready for public-consumption release of the new iOS in the Fall of 2013?

Like they say, “there no such thing as bad publicity.”

What if when that happened, Jony Ive, in that alooo-min-eee-um laced voice tells us we’ve been punk’d and gives us the real iOS update? The update with all the currently announced functionality improvements but, sporting a gloriously intuitive, retooled and revamped visual design.(Regardless of whether they ape Windows 8 or Android Ice Cream Sandwich)

The competition will weep, critics and haters will eat their words, loyalists will rejoice and the stock price will climb into the stratosphere and all will be right in the world of Apple.

Logic tells me this will never happen — but it never hurts to dream.

… … …

Full Disclosure: The author owns an iPhone 3 and 4 as well as an HTC EVO - but has since migrated to the iPhone 5 and the HTC One X+. Currently he’s grooving on Google Now, though he does so on the competitors OS.

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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/584215 2013-06-15T06:30:08Z 2013-10-08T17:26:26Z DESIGNER BY BIRTH, ASIAN BY CHOICE

Photo Credits: Jane M Sawyer

I Yam Whut I Yam…

Answers to the Dustin Sensos Questionnaire aka Five Design Questions

Tell us who you are in one sentence.

I’m a former VP, Director, Designer, Cog-In-the-Machine and these days I design mobile apps and websites — constant in my ability to spark the gears of inspiration and initiate the creative process, I love to color outside the lines and eat paste, break things and put them back together again — and I’m partial to run-on sentences.


If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?

I’d draw comics. However, since my design skills exceed my drawing skills — I’d ask DC or Marvel (if they’d have me) if I could stay on and write (instead). More realistically, I’d be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer or any of the other careers approved by most Asian parents. And I’d be miserable.

Thank God for Design School, Mrs Mast, Mrs Gilmore, Richard CarlyonAkira Ouchi,Robert Meganck and the many other influences in my life who said, “Fuck It, what do you have to lose?” (They didn’t use those exact words but, the gist of it boiled down to the aforementioned quote.)


What is something you wished you designed, either because you love it, or because you feel you could have done it better?

The original ZVOX mini speaker. One cabinet, one connecting wire and a one page owners manual. Afforable enough for the everyman and designed by maverick Winslow Burhoe, it generates immense room filling sound. Marvelous.


What was your biggest design mistake?

Asking, “Who is Martin Sorrell?” in an all hands meeting, on my first day as a designer at OgilvyPR Worldwide. Open mouth, insert foot.


What advice would you give someone entering the design field?

Never stop learning, never be afraid to fail, never shy away from something new and never turn down an opportunity just because it is in another city, state or country — you lose that flexibility as you get older.

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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/584213 2013-06-15T06:20:09Z 2013-10-08T17:26:26Z WHY THE ANDROID and iOS FANBOYS FIGHT

Photo Credit: Directors Bureau / Wunderman Agency

Put Down the Smartphone and Back Away From the Table

To anyone not invested in the outcome, it would appear as if the ruckus over which smartphone operating system is superior, is a matter of national security. So thick is the fighting that family members, loved ones and coworkers are forced to pick sides. If we could harness the effort exerted in defending our choices — we might yet have a solution to the world’s energy problems.

To be fair, anyone who evangelizes or professes a preference for one platform or the other is often rejoicing in the pure wonder of technology. To quote Arthur C. Clark, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It is the discovery of just how much you can do with a palm sized hunk of metal, glass and plastic that invariably pushes us to preach to nonbelievers or the uninitiated. 

However, it is the discovery of the limitations of our own chosen platforms and the advantages of the other that makes us question our faith. We are propelled by the fear that perhaps we backed a horse that won’t come in first place, or worse a horse that won’t even be a factor in the race. 

In deference to this, we often rebuke the opposing operating system. We continue professing our faith in the form of stickers, tattoos, and blog posts. Nay we say! Android trounces the iOS platform and vice versa. Why be a slave when you can chart your own destiny! Yelling so loudly we can’t hear the opposition as they respond with retorts of a better end-to-end user experience. So simple your grandmother could use it the Android warriors retort! That's the whole effin’ point the iOS spartans chant. The battle rages on with both sides flinging flaming fireballs designed to extinguish the opposition.

“We sell more phones,” the Android army exclaims.

“We make more money off our phones,” defends the iOS knights.

“Your mapping app sucks,” cry the Android legions.

“Your apps are mostly trash,” charge the iOS minions.

Meanwhile, in the trenches there’s a creeping suspicion among some of us, that we’ve made the wrong decision. We’ve invested too heavily in the ecosystem, and are trapped by our choices. Each successive purchase compounds the number of manacles already on our wrists. (Unless we’ve rooted or jail-broken our devices.) All the while our compatriots intimating that if we defect, we’ll lose mountains of content and be branded a traitor. Like those early adopters before us who made similar choices; between Betamax instead of VHS, Sony MiniDisc instead of iPods and HDDVD instead of BluRay — we fight on. We fight on so that others might validate our choices and relieve us of our buyers remorse.

Offshore is the once mighty RIM armada flying a Blackberry flag. Coming over the horizon are the upstart Windows Wildings - ensuring that the war will be waged on many fronts, over many continents for years to come — with the only victor being choice.

... ... ...

Full Disclosure: The author owns an iPhone 3 and 4 as well as an HTC EVO - but has since migrated to the iPhone 5 and the HTC One X+. Currently he’s grooving on Google Now, though he does so on the competitors OS.

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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/520474 2013-04-28T05:14:28Z 2013-10-08T17:12:35Z CRUISING to OBLIVION
With just two weeks to go, Jack's partner is eager to wrap things up and leave a now desolate Earth.

...   ...   ...

OK. OK. Two reviews in less than six months seems like I'm developing a man crush on Mr. Tom Cruise but, I promise you it's just a coincidence. I'm just using this movie review as a test of PostHaven's new blogging platform. (no really…with Posterous shutting down it is a valid exercise.)


I was looking forward to this movie, having followed the trailers and featurettes on the bubbleship and how they shot the skytower, via the internet and other media outlets. Regardless of what you think of the film, one thing is for certain - in DC at least - the combination of marketing and paid off. Tom Cruise can still open a big movie weekend. In the Washington DC metro area it was hard to find a ticket, shows were sold out through midnight on Saturday and I was lucky enough to snag one for the IMAX presentation.

Usually I'm not a fan of 3D or IMAX but in the case of Oblivion, this is exactly what the movie needed. Amazing in its scope, you get a feel for the sky tower, the empty landscapes and the results of an Earth wasted by elemental change as a result of a devastated moon. The first half of the movie is pristine. We are introduced to Jack Harper (Cruise), a drone tech with a full complement of science fiction toys: the impossibly clean bubbleship with a 270 degree view of the world, a next gen motorcycle and the requisite pulse weapon. Jack along with his "teammate" and operator Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the mop up crew. With only two weeks left in their rotation before they return to the Mothership. The Mothership headed for Titan, one of Saturn's moons.

They're leaving Earth, along with the rest of humanity, because even though they won the war with the long gone aliens, the Earth is no longer fit to support life. They're there to repair drones who are protecting giant ships meant to harvest the last of Earths resources before the Titan trip.

Yet Jack, who keeps having memories of a past prior to the invasion, can't help but think perhaps they're wrong, perhaps they're meant to stay on Earth for just a little longer.

...   ...   ...




The last half of the movie devolves into echoes of other movies you might have seen before, if you're a big fan of science fiction. I'll leave those 5-6 movies unnamed because they would give away key plot points. This doesn't make the movie any less enjoyable because of the rush of emotion in the second half of the movie. As Jack Harper, Cruise is equal parts stoic and lonely individual looking to connect. As Victoria, Andrea Riseborough does credit to her classical stage acting background by living the part of a "team member", lover, spouse (it's never spelled out in the movie) - who is torn between her feelings for Jack and her desire to leave the planet.

The aforementioned BubbleShip and SkyTower. (all the comforts of home)

...   ...   ...

Though Oblivion was based on producer/director Joseph Kosinski's unpublished graphic novel of the same name, you will undoubtably leave the movie knowing he was heavily influenced by works that came before. In many ways that's all right -- as it doesn't diminish the enjoyment of the movie. If anything, it makes you want to view the movies you think influenced Kosinski -- to see if your hypothesis is correct. Keep in mind there are only seven plots (some say 12) in storytelling so in the bigger scheme of things -- it's often how you tell a story and to whom that determines success and resonance.

For me Oblivion marks the kickoff of the Summer Movie season, and it can only get better. Grab some popcorn, get smack dab in the middle of that IMAX screen and soak it all in.
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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57365 2012-12-22T19:09:21Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z CRUISE DOESN’T OVERREACH

Returning from four weeks of vacation spent overseas in Southeast Asia, on a visit home to Laos, I was jonesing for a catch-up weekend on all the first movies I had missed while I was MIA. The obvious selection for my first reinsertion into the U.S. pop-culture machine should have been the new James Bond flick, Skyfall. However, the new movie Jack reacher just seemed too compelling. I was pleasantly surprised by my last minute pivot. (Future posts will eventually cover the Southeast Asia adventure — I promise).

... ... ...

Check your movie critic hat at the door upon entering the theater and you'll be treated to a solid and entertaining two hours and 11 minutes. If you're familiar with the Lee Child thrillers, on which the Jack Reacher movie has been fashioned, you'll spend a little time getting over the fact that Tom Cruise is not the Jack Reacher from the novels. Cruise does an outstanding job of portraying Jack Reacher. By the end of the first act, any reservations you may have had regarding the fact that he's not six foot five, brawny or blond – is replaced by the fact that Cruise truly inhabits the character of Jack Reacher. Unbending, stoic and morally unconfused, Cruise's version of Jack Reacher is without scruples when it comes to seeing that justice is served (versus what is right or wrong based on proof). Audiences will gravitate to him because he sees the world in black and white with few if any shades of gray.

 He's a modern day Dirty Harry without the magnum, the Terminator without the mechanical directive, the Punisher without the comic book affectations.

 Critics will complain that the plot, as it unfolds, makes it obvious to cinephiles exactly what is going on — and if you're an attentive movie watcher you'll realize that part is true. The movie has less to do with keeping the audience in the dark and more to do with keeping them guessing how the Jack Reacher character will resolve the problem(s) at hand.

 Here's where all the joy in Jack Reacher comes to a head — women will swoon (like the women in the movie) for Reacher and men will gravitate towards his level of control. On this latter point, it's a level of control that allows Reacher to drop off the grid, untethering himself from the indignity of modern life, the binds of mortgage payments and the demands of a wired life. A quote from the actual book explains how he got to be this way, "I was in the machine. My whole life. Then the machine coughed and spat me out. So I thought, OK, if I'm out, I'm out. All the way out. I was a little angry and it was probably an immature reaction. But I got used to it.”

In essence, Jack Reacher is his own man, living life on his own terms.

Armed with a military background that gives him the chops to back up his understated bravado Jack Reacher, as played by Cruise, is the antithesis of the Arnold Schwarzenegger era action hero. Jack Reacher's first line of defense is intellect, which prevents him from responding to every obstacle with a catchphrase and a hail of bullets fired from an automatic weapon.

Everyone involved with this movie seemingly brought their "A" game, with top billed cast turning in solid performances. Director Christopher McQuarrie ( Usual Suspects) also brings his formidable talents to the project and it shows - from sound design, music and cinematography the all the work is impeccable.

I'm sure studio execs are holding their breath, waiting on weekly box office totals, to see if this will be a breakout hit. Waiting to see if this movie will provide them with a franchise with a wealth of source material. At last count, Lee Childs has had at least 16 Jack Reacher books published. And for pure fun the Reacher novels are easily the best thriller series going. Let us hope this movie, based on the novel "One Shot", is the first of many more to come.

 

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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57366 2012-10-23T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z TWO WEEKS of MY MOTHER ON TWITTER v2.O

Last, summer (or was it the summer before?) my mother showed up unannounced. She said she gave me a heads up but I told her since you flew across the Atlantic, calling from New York City after you land is not considered a "heads up." What followed was a week of unplanned dinners and outings followed by a second week of unplanned dinners and outings in NYC folowed by a wedding (not mine).

I only recently found my cache of notes/posts from that period. On the eve of yet another family outing (this time half-way around the world) I present Two Weeks of My Mother on Twitter v2.O. (OK, OK this time they were facebook posts, primarily because I needed more characters to describe the madness.) Overall though Ive got to cut her some slack since she's in her early 80s and not early 70s as I had thought.

Got confirmation that my Mom will touchdown in NYC June 15th. Right now she is in Paris trying out her mothering logic on my younger brother. It's like a test run.
via Facebook
... ... ...

So it begins. My mother landed in NYC on the 15th — though I can't be sure because she hasn't called, or e-mailed or texted. And of course her cell phone is turned off. You know if the tables were turned I'd get an earful. I guess this is payback.
via Facebook
... ... ...

Mom is still MIA, or maybe my siblings like keeping me in the dark. Then again they've assimilated the European lifestyle so maybe they're on holiday too. That means I'm free for the 4th.
via Facebook
... ... ...

So I found Mom. (who is OK, thanks for asking) But I can't call her back because she keeps calling and leaving 20+ minute messages. Nothing coherent. Just ambient noise of breakfast being eaten. Hang up Mom (and chew with your mouth closed...)
via Facebook
... ... ...

 "So what do you want to do Mom?" Upon where she answers "I don't know, you decide." Of course I'll make a decision and hours into our outing she'll whisper, "This is not what I really wanted to do." 
via Facebook
... ... ...

My sister worries since my Mom will often walk into a room and forget why she came, I.e. to fetch/do something specific, she may be developing some memory loss. I respond by saying, what we were we talking about again?
via Facebook
... ... ...

Running around the neighborhood with the iPad in tow to prove to my Aunt that the range of her Verizon FiOS signal is not infinite - and thus she is NOT supplying access for the whole county.
via Facebook
... ... ...

So I find out from my Mom why it's so hard to build the family tree. Laotians didn't have/use last names prior to WW2. So had I been traveling the country at that time and people asked me who I was I would have had to say, "I'm Monirom, son of Sopsaisana, of the tribe that has indoor plumbing and electricity. We come in peace."  
via Facebook
... ... ...

She comes across the Atlantic...to buy an iPad.
via Twitter
... ... ...

 

... ... ...

Why my Mom got stopped by the TSA: because she insisted on bringing an 833g Box of "After 8" Mints across the Atlantic. (833g is the size wholesalers sell to catering companies) Apparently when they melt inside the box, the density is close to peanut butter, or plastic explosives.
via Facebook
... ... ...

My mom remarks Wow you look great. Have you lost weight - if you don't visit your aunt before she dies - you'll be sorry. that's 1 sentence. 
via Facebook
... ... ...

So I call my Mom, who was up until 4am, to get the initial call/guilt over with. And she goes, "Don't call me on the cell, it costs a fortune." and hangs up. This is why I have great powers of deduction.
via Facebook
... ... ...

My aunt tells me I should be grateful my mother gave up a night of cards with the Lao women because she loves me. So guess where we are? I'm surrounded by cackling Lao women who believe the louder you yell the more powerful your message. Cards are flying, babies shrieking, toddlers playing fisher price slam dunk, preteens inhaling helium etc. Even my cousin Tray had the good sense to cut and run.

According to Dante I'm in the first ring.
via Facebook
... ... ...

Countdown to my first (ever) road trip with my Mother (no kidding). Be glad I wont be drexting.
via Facebook
... ... ...

First know I love my mother before reading this missive: I'm at the intersection of BFE and Where the F Are We — being given driving tips by a woman who has never operated a motor vehicle in her life — who is being assisted by a woman who knows the city of NYC but speaks no English.
via Facebook
... ... ...

She stops me before I leave to have me clarify my itinerary and purpose. I ask if she would like to accompany me to visit my friend Anne in Pearl River, NY. I'm ready to go! she exaults. Then when informed my friend Anne is neither my girlfriend nor fiancé — and thus we are not likely to get married. My mother declines in favor of the Hall of Science in Queens.
via Facebook
... ... ... 

I love you too, Mom.
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monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57367 2012-07-23T02:06:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z THE NOLAN FANBOY TRILOGY

"You think this can last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."

Observations On All Things Dark Knight (Again)

...

REACTION:

When an audience claps in appreciation at a movie, not just at the end but also during key parts of the movie, you know the director has done his job well. This is especially true if there is no one associated with the movie present at the screening and the audience is sober. In many cases, it is a reaction to building tension that is finally alleviated or when a character so disliked in the movie — gets their comeuppance. Sitting in a packed theater last night, where many remained seated through the credits, you would be right to assume that Christopher Nolan has a crowd pleaser on his hands.

One can surmise that Nolan, having filled the coffers of Warner Bros. many times over, was given carte blanche to fulfill his vision of the Batman mythos. Though at times it seemed like the movie was getting too big to be contained, Nolan does an expert job of wrapping up the trilogy, answering open questions and tying up loose ends in a satisfying way for Batman fanboys and the casual viewer alike. This is a feat that is more daunting than we realize because when the first movie in the trilogy Batman Begins debuted, Nolan had yet to map out the story arc for all three films.

There will be many who will dissect The Dark Knight Rises, much like they did its predecessor, nit-picking at details and lamenting in extended anti-TDK/Nolan diatribes. Some of these reviews are so scathing, one has to think that the authors just might revel in the negative comments generated by their contrarian views. They of course are not entirely wrong. But, no matter, most of us do not take notes or dissect a movie as we are watching it. We do as was intended and we allow it to wash over us. We experience the film as a whole. Only after the experience will we giddily turn to ask our fellow movie goers and ask, “What did think?!!” In the case of this movie, we most likely did not bother to listen before we blurted out our own opinion laced with superlatives. Nolan has gone the full distance and brought us a final installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy that informs us about our own state as a people, connects us in shared emotions and entertains the “muther-effing” heck out of us. It’s also the first movie this summer that I knew I wanted to pay to see twice. (Which I’m secretly hoping to do right now. Even as I type this review on an iPad having ditched church for the matinee showing — God forgive me.)

THE STORY:

(No Spoilers I Promise, Just Set-Up) Christopher Nolan has developed a narrative strung so tight, even fanboys will be caught off guard when all the twists, turns and pieces click into place. This is not because we all aren’t familiar with the details from decades of Batman comics but, because you really do experience The Dark Knight Rises as a movie and not just another “superhero” movie. (BTW You don’t need to see Parts 1 and 2 to enjoy this movie but, it might be wise lest the person you’re sitting next to threaten bodily harm if you ask one more question about a character or incident from the previous movies.)

We pick-up the story in The Dark Knight Rises eight years after the last film. Gotham is prosperous and almost crime-free due to lies built upon the legacy of  the late District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). It is a lie kept in place by the silence of police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) who knows it was Harvey Dent and not the Batman who perpetrated the murders at the end of the previous movie. Portrayed as a martyr, Harvey Dent has his name tacked onto a bill, legislation that put thousands of criminals behind bars without the possibility of parole. In an increasingly safe Gotham, Commissioner Gordon and Batman are considered relics, veterans in a war long over. Gotham, having no further use for a masked vigilante, pushes Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) into a Howard Hughes-like seclusion. The bat signal gathers dust.

But it’s always most calm before the storm. In the shadows lurks a new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) with ties to Bruce Wayne’s past, who intends to fulfill the dreams of his mentor and destroy Gotham City — long seen as a corrupt modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, worthy of obliteration. Because of Bane’s plans, which preaches revolution under the guise of political reform and cleansing, some people start clamoring for the return of the Dark Knight. Out of shape, out of practice and out of the loop, Bruce Wayne has a long way to go before he do justice to the cape and cowl. Does Batman’s presence matter in a world that has moved on without him? To tell you anymore would be criminal, as giving away key details would ruin your enjoyment of the film.

 

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES:

Anne Hathaway, who plays Selena Kyle aka CatWoman, turns in a heroic performance. Her version of CatWoman embodies all the qualities that would be appealing to a man used to roaming the city in black body armor and a cowl. Hathaway’s performance transcends Michele Pfeiffers turn in the Tim Burton helmed original and obliterates Halle Berry’s turn in the Razzie winning movie. Selena Kyle is a renowned master thief. Hathaway plays her as an independent and resourceful woman with no need to be rescued nor desire to play the damsel in distress. Those distressed by early PR photos of the CatWoman costume will be glad to know that her outfit, despite the four-inch heels, looks the way it does because of function. In action sequences within The Dark Knight Rises it becomes clear why production designers took this tact — after all CatWoman spends more time kicking-ass and no time playing sexual dominatrix. Hathaway truly becomes her character, convincingly slipping in between the villain/anti-hero enigma that is Selena Kyle.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is an inspired choice to play John Blake. Blake is a young police officer with instincts beyond his years and an intelligence to see the dichotomy of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Levitt plays the character with all the necessary conviction to illustrate the idealism that was once a cornerstone of Batman’s crime-fighting mantra. It is Blake in contrast with Wayne that we begin to understand just how much Batman has strayed from his original mission. This leads us to wonder if the future of Gotham belongs in the hands and hope of a younger generation.

As Bane, Tom Hardy turns in an understated but, effective performance. This is remarkable because his emoting must be done primarily though his eyes and his actions. At times he is hard to understand because his character wears a respirator that feeds him pain killers but, Hardy’s performance gets across the gist of his intentions even if the dialogue is muffled.

Nolan brings back a host of old friends, family, bit-players and nemesis in flashbacks and present day interactions. Comfortable in their roles, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Christian Bale focus on moving the story forward and pulling on our heartstrings. Even Bale’s “Batman Voice” has become less gruff and is a bit more understated.

CONCLUSION:

Equal parts detective story, action-movie spectacle and noir-enhanced superhero narrative, Nolan injects us in a world fully formed and realized with enough realism that we suspend disbelief for a few hours and indulge in the fantasy of what we could do to fight crime — had we billions of dollars, extensive training and all those fabulous gadgets.]]>
monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57369 2012-05-05T00:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z AVENGERs: SOMETHING WICKED AWESOME THIS WAY COMES

...

title quote attribution: Wired Magazine

Watch your back Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon's coming up your six. The Avengers, the latest live-action offering from Marvel shows us it's possible to make a decent ensemble movie — we just need to STFU and work as a team.

...

I was looking forward to the Avengers movie as I was reading through the reviews on Letterboxd.com. Most of these reviews were from the rest of the world and I hoped I would not be disappointed — it just premiered in the US today.

It should be noted that no other studio, outside of Marvel, could have pulled off this feat. I'm talking less about the Avengers movie itself and more about Marvel starting their own studio and taking control of their  intellectual property. Who better than a comics publishing giant could understand the needs of their own fans?

With premiere properties like Spiderman licensed to Sony, X-men and the Fantastic Four to Fox (and a host of other characters licensed to Lionsgate, New Line and Columbia) it seemed like the right time to venture out on their own. Marvel wanted to do this before making a movie, like The Avengers, would be hampered by lawyers and licensing deals. So Avi Arad and company bet the farm, staking their survival on the success or failure of the first Iron Man movie and the reboot of the Hulk. The latter being the version with Edward Norton. Lucky for us, that bet payed off. 

Which brings us to Joss Whedon, the man entrusted with the mythos of The Avengers. I'm sure the Hollywood suits had their doubts but, found Whedon uniquely qualified to do the one thing that has plagued many failed super-hero movies - tell a good narrative without giving in to excessive exposition, back-story or cramming in too many heroes and villains. It doesn't hurt that Whedon's street cred includes a stint writing the Eisner Award winning X-Men series for Marvel.

We assume with millions to be made in licensing, the studio execs would insist Whedon to do things their way - the better to sell the myriad of merchandise that accompanies such spandex-wearing spectacle. Yet what we see on screen is quite the contrary. Joss Whedon has pulled off a masterpiece of summertime goodness that will appeal to the kid in all of us. For someone who grew up on the comic book rations Marvel,  it is immensely satisfying to see what used to exist as drawings by Jack Kirby, John Buscema and George Perez (among others) come to life  in a live-action movie that is respectful of the source material.

Whedon does more than make these characters come alive, he embodies them in the Walt Kelly (Pogo) catch phrase, "We have met the enemy and he is us." 

Because what is the Avengers but, a story about a dysfunctional family? This is how we are able to relate to the characters.  We all have dysfunctional families with different members playing the roles of (Avengers roll call!) the father figure (Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury), the self-righteous hero (Chris Evans as Captain America), the egotistical brother (Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/ Iron Man), the mediator/peacekeeper (Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk), the outgoing and responsible sister (Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow),  the entitled 'holier than thou' brother (Chris Hemsworth as Thor) and the enforcer (Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye).

So off we go on a cross-country road trip, dysfunctions and all, crammed into the family station wagon (the S.H.E.I.L.D flying fortress) bickering about who has to sit in the middle. Only when we are united against a single and common enemy (Tom Hiddelston as Loki) do we get our act together, repress our respective egos and begin to act like a family.

Don't worry if some of the arcane fan-boy musings in this review have you scratching your head - all will be explained in the movie. Just sit back in the cool darkness, feed yourself that delicious 'movie' popcorn and let this blockbuster wash over you. You'll not only have a good time, you'll leave the theater thinking, "I must own this on DVD when it comes out." 

Because surely there will be a directors cut as well as loads of extras...

...

Be sure to sit through the end credits to see not one but two media stingers (extra scenes).

]]>
monirom
tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57370 2012-04-07T16:52:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z THE BEST PART OF THE MOVIES ARE THE TITLES

Trailers get a bad rap for misleading audiences, making them think an inferior movie is better than it actually is. Once you've bought the ticket and you're in the seats there is no recourse. Opening titles on the other hand, are innocuous. They get ignored and are mostly forgettable —serving as extra time afforded you while you lumber in late from the concession stand. You're safe,  you haven't missed any of the movie. That is, until you do.

...
image credits: ©2012 Warner Bros. Studios
...

A good director is one who realizes that the time "wasted" on the film title sequence (often used to satisfy legal, ego and studio requirements) can be used to set the mood, further the story line, or fill in back story.

A great director is one who realizes he can't do it himself and collaborates with acclaimed and sometimes obscure design houses.

Here's a list of my current favorite movie title sequences and hopefully some of yours. (in no particular order)

...

01. The Dark Knight Rises

As of this writing, the movie isnt even out yet so how could the official title sequence be out for public viewing? No its not an internet scoop, its a film school project by Doğan Can Gündoğdu and it's quite good.

 ...

02. Seven

David Fincher's thriller masterpiece augmented by the work of Kyle Cooper now at Prologue.

 ...

03. Stranger Than Fiction

Will Ferrell playing a character outside of his comfort zone. The title sequence/opening credits by MK12 who, at the time, were also playing outside of their comfort zone. If I remember correctly, they also did the end credits.

 ...

04. Catch Me If You Can

"The title sequence for Catch Me If You Can from 2002 by french duo Kuntzel+Deygas is often credited as being the most influential animated title sequence of the 2000-2010 decade. It certainly reopened the path for lavishly animated movie titles." ~submarine channel

  • Deborah Allison wrote an informed article about this subject. Be patient if the servers down.

 ...

05. Thank You for Smoking

If you've ever smoked, or lived with people who smoked, this title sequence is a nostalgic trip through come iconic packaging. So iconic, just the juxtaposition of color and typography is enough to recall the brand name. It is the work of Shadow Play Studio, which was disbanded in 2011. Former Shadowplay designers Gareth Smith and Jenny Lee started Smith & Lee Design in 2011.

...

06. The Number 23

Even if you don't believe the premise of this movie, you can't deny that facts communicated in this backstory are more than a little bit eerie. Michelle Dougherty directed the work by Imaginary Forces.

...

07. The Final Destination

For The Final Destination, PIC (the design shop behind the opening title sequence) wanted to do something that was fast, in-your-face and aimed for maximum impact. If you pay close attention, some of the plot point are hidden in the titles. Embedding was disabled by the request of the studios so follow this link to see the video. Final destination 4 opening animation and ending. (probably not a good idea to view this at work)

...

08. The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo

Another David Fincher film that sports a very magnetic opening title sequence. You're sucked into the animation without knowing what to make of it. According to Fincher, the title sequence represents the type of dreams, or rather nightmares, that the main character (Lisbeth Salander) might be having. Onur Senturk's work on the opening titles with design animation and creative direction at Blur Studios.

  • Onur's own BTS video on his design process.

...

09. Johnny Quest

OK. OK. So there's no Johnny Quest motion picture coming out any time soon. But...I and other like me love me some Johnny Quest. In the words of John, um I mean Roger D. Evans, "In 1964, Jonny Quest aired to rave reviews as the first, adult action/adventure cartoon in prime time. It had cool jazz music by Hoyt Curtin and terrific, high contrast pen and ink design work by Doug Wildey...Here is my Valentine to one of the coolest, if not THE coolest, cartoons ever to spin up the imagination of a 53 year old man now going on six." Maybe this will light a fire under the studios' 

 ...

10. Tron Legacy

The opening titles for Tron Legacy are visually stunning — and for good reason. Bradley G. Munkowitz, a protoege of Kyle Cooper, led "a black-ops team into the darkness of Digital Domain creating over 12 minutes of holographic content for the film." (For the entire year of 2010!) As part of that process Joseph Kosinski awarded them the Opening Titles.

  • Also see the gmunk.com documentation of that process. Videos, notes, photos.
  • Good quality videos of the official title sequence are hard to find online. To view the actual quality of the CGI work you can peruse the Tron legacy work on the Digital Domain website.

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57371 2012-01-20T04:04:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z SEIZURE FIRST AID, THE RIGHT THING TO DO

    Hollywood has a lot of ground to make up for when it comes to righting the wrongs perpetuated with it's portrayal of seizures, epilepsy and what type of first aid should be administered to a person who has just suffered a seizure.

    Read through the beginning of this post or at the very least view the first two minute video and you'll know exactly what to do — should you happen on an individual who is having a seizure. Unlike CPR its easily remembered and doesn't require special training.




    FIRST AID FOR TONIC-COLONIC (GRAND MAL) SEIZURES:
    • DO Stay calm
    • DO Help the person lie on their side
    • DO Keep their head inclined, so they don't choke.
    • DO Time the "shaking" portion of their seizure
    • DO Make them comfortable
    • DO NOT Hold the person down or restrain them
    • DO NOT Put anything in their mouth
    • DO NOT Give them water, pills, or food until they are alert

    WHEN TO CALL 911:
    It is not necessary to call the paramedics for every seizure if you know the individual is someone who has epilepsy.

    CALL 911 IF:
    • Its the person's first seizure, or you're not sure if its their first seizure.
    • The seizure last more than 5 minutes.
    • The person injures themselves during the seizure or vomits.


    WHAT TO DO AFTER THE SEIZURE:
    • Stay with the person and keep them safe
    • Do not restrain them.
    • Be sensitive and use a calm, reassuring voice
    • As they recover, ask them simple questions (their name, who is president, what year is it) to see if/when the become reoriented
    • Make sure they're not hurt.

    If this has piqued your curiosity and you'd like to learn more about the causes, history, research and treatment of epilepsy — the Epilepsy Therapy Project has a comprehensive Video Series.

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57373 2011-12-18T14:25:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY for iPAD GETS IT MOSTLY RIGHT

    TIME, Inc.'s Newest iPad App is a Winner

    I've spent my fair share of time in the trenches when it comes to magazine design and publishing. I know how hard it is to produce great work on deadline — especially when there are a hundred moving parts and multiple levels of approval needed for everything from editorial content to artwork and photography. The fact that great material gets produced at all is a testament to the work ethic of the people who toil in publishing. You simply have to love the job.

    ... ... ...
    IMAGE CREDITs: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
    ... ... ...

    Throw into this pressure cooker the need to get finished art to the printers (in time for them to actually print the magazine), the requirement that you repurpose all content online and publish a corresponding iPad version — and you have a recipe for disaster. And yet, with the advent of Entertainment Weekly (EW) for iPad, the folks at TIME, Inc. (EW's parent company) have managed to cobble together a smorgasbord of an app thats worth the cost of subscription.

    I know what you're thinking, you've seen PROJECT Magazine and WIRED Magazine with their gee-gaw factor of video clips, interactive-rotating 3D models, embedded sound clips, out-bound hyper-links and real-time commenting. It is true the folks at PROJECT and WIRED do a splendid job but, they are working on a monthly deadline. EW works on a weekly deadline hence their name "Entertainment Weekly".

    I'm not privy to the inner workings at EW but, I suspect they knew their publishing cycle would not allow for these types of "gee-gaw" features in every issue. So I assume they did the next best thing and exploited the one advantage they have in their favor — great access, great photography and a publication the reader can consume in a single sitting. With this "assumed advantage" they have provided readers with the best reading experience on an iPad regardless of orientation.

    This in itself is not an easy thing to do. Other magazines like Condé Nast's WIRED magazine or Virgin's PROJECT magazine utilize a layout that switches from two columns to three columns when rotated. Readers then scroll up and down to read more content while swiping left to right takes you to the next story. EW does this too but, because of the brevity of their articles they are able to more often instigate a user-interface where the reader taps for more content or swipes within a fixed window. This in itself does not seem to be radically different until you see how EW exploits this feature.

    In the end, what is amazing about EW's implementation of the digital magazine is simply that they have been able to preserve the natural reading experience of their printed edition and port it, without compromise, to the iPad. It doesn't hurt that the app is rock-solid in its its stability.* It took me more than 45 minutes of constantly changing the orientation of my iPad to force the application to crash — I have a feeling the app was doing so out of spite.

    ... ... ...


    A VISUAL OVERVIEW

     

    For Starters

    EW Doesn't bother with landscape versions of its cover. It stays fast and true to the portrait orientation for some of its key features like the "BullsEye" a weekly compendium of pop cultures's hits and misses. The app offers a clean and unobtrusive UI (user interface) and a quick one page, mostly visual , tutorial readers are up and running in a flash. Working in both orientations, the primary UI menu fades from view when unneeded. Readers need only tap the bottom of the screen to make it reappear — a standard convention in most magazine apps. 

    Advertising

    Adverts are kept to a minimum, for a bonafide reading experience. Advertisers are given the option of producing two versions of their ads or the use of a magnification feature in landscape mode. Being a magazine that covers books, music, movies games — I forsee more interactive ads in EW's future. 

    Short Stories

    Short Stories that require little copy are the bread and butter of EW. These are snippets of information too long to be contained in a sidebar and to short to be a long-form feature story. Photo features also qualify for this category. EW allows readers to view the photography in all its glory before tapping the cues to reveal the copywriting behind the image. In some cases, the image is the story and rotating the story from portrait to landscape gives the user a different perspective on the content. Either the content can be seen in it's entirety or more of the subject is shown for a richer - more contextual experience.


    Adaptive Design/Layout

    EW's design genius really gets in gear with an adaptive grid that allows sections like "The Year that Was" to shine. It appears that many of the visual elements are isolated, rather than existing as a composite, allowing EW's designers to leverage image size, proportion, different type treatments and custom wraps/containers to provide unique layouts for portrait and landscape.


    Special Sections

    EW pulls out all the stops for special sections like "The Year in Covers" and "Best and Worst of 2011". In some cases they worked in practical, section-specific sub-navigation that not only becomes part of the design, it is actually useful.

    In Conclusion

    For most applications, after the wrapper has been taken off and the novelty has worn thin, users rarely come back to use for extended periods of time. For the Entertainment Weekly app, with two issues under it's belt, I'm taking a wait and see attitude. This app is good enough that I want to make it my primary way of consuming entertainment news, Flipboard be damned. Lets hope the writers, editors, designers and publishers keep up the exemplary work. Five out of five stars.

    Entertainment Weekly for iPad can be found on the itunes app store.

     ... ... ...

    *Running on an 32GB iPad2 with iOS5 installed. EW for iPad now in the itunes app store. Bonus! Print subscribers get the digital version for free.

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57375 2011-03-04T02:14:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z DEAD ISLAND: HONEY DID WE PACK THE SHOTGUN?

    People tend to think of video games as pure entertainment. Some think of them as a waste of time. Yet as the media platform matures, more and more people are recognizing it as art. Specifically because recent high-profile game titles have raised the bar on the emotional ties people form with the stories.

     ... ... ...
    IMAGE CREDITs: Techland 
    ... ... ...

     

    Note: This video is not for the faint of heart. If you're not used to graphic game trailers or horror movies this might prove to be a bit. unsettling. In mid February a firestorm of concern erupted over the Internet in regards to what, to many gamers, was just a simple preview trailer for a video game. What was alarming to parent groups and people outside of the gaming industry/community as a whole, was the emotional impact of the trailer. Specifically, they were outraged that the trailer for 'Dead Island' by Dutch game studio Techland showed the death of a little girl by her own father's hands. 


    Good story-tellers know that in order for a story to resonate with audiences one has to get them emotionally invested. Audiences are suckers for children and animals.* The trailer struck a nerve because we are not used to seeing children being physically treated in this manner. Swap out an adult male character for the little girl and the trailer might have passed without any notice. Even veteran gamers were remarking that it was one of the most moving pieces of digital film they had seen in quite some time. Before you go off on a rant, know the source of this raw emotion is the presence of attacking zombies.

    "TechLand has just released the official trailer for the upcoming survival horror first-person shooter and it is certainly worth watching. Even if you’re not a gamer. Trust us on this one! It’s better than a lot of movie trailers."

    Shown in slow-motion, like a silent super-8 movie played in reverse, the trailer takes the viewer from disbelief to understanding, to the desire to watch it one more time. It is like a car-wreck, you want to look away but, morbid curiosity prevents you from doing so. An Internet meme was even started with fans of the trailer posting it in reverse order on YouTube. Trust me when I say that it loses some of its impact when you can see the action telescoped so you can anticipate the next actions/moves this family in peril will take.

    What is odd is that it has taken the general public this long to realize that game designers and developers have been crafting their art for years and realized that story is now as important as game-play. In some cases, like Rock Star games' 'Red Dead Redemption' and Remedy's 'Alan Wake' story drives the game-play.

    Even Hollywood has taken note. Though I fear the movie studios are more interested in the blockbuster sales figures than they are the medium.

    ... ... ...

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57376 2011-02-25T03:37:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z NOT to BE MISSED, EPERNAY, USVI

    In this harried world, the last thing you want to do on vacation is be treated like a number. Which is why I recommend Epernay in the US Virgin Islands. They are a Wine & Champagne Bistro located in Frenchtown in St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The food is commendably delicious, service is personable and for the USVI the prices are on par.

    The owner/ operator, Tucker, is a former analyst who decided he didn't need the stress or grind of Wall Street any longer and thus he entered head-first into the uncharted perils of eatery & watering-hole ownership. The affect of having some one used to Wall Street levels of stress running a such an establishment yeilds one of the most laid-back and comfortable bars/restaurants on the island and the continental United States.

    Epernay ends up being everything your wished for in a 'corner neighborhood' watering hole and restaurant — albeit one that serves 'Ace of Spades' champagne (I opted for bourbon) and the most flavorful of NY strips. Don't let all the trappings fool you, at Epernay the tables are small, closely spaced, cozy.

     

    Conversation flows easily and new friends are made over the simplest of commonalities. Be prepared to discuss even the most taboo of subjects with bar regulars — everything from religion to politics to which Android OS cellpone is best.

    If you make it to the US Virgin Islands, be sure to drop by and be sure to tell them Monirom sent you.

    DINING MENU:

    WINE MENU:

    FOR MORE INFO VISIT THIER WEBSITE:
    http://www.epernaystthomas.com

    CONTACT THEM AT:
    Epernay, St Thomas
    24A Honduras
    French Town, St. Thomas, USVI

    340 667 5348

     

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57378 2011-02-08T16:15:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY: A SHORT WEEK WITH THE DAILY APP (iPAD)

    You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but, you can't please all of the people all of the time. That is the lesson Rupert Murdoch and The Daily Holdings, Inc. learned this past week after the launch of their much lauded 'The Daily' app.

    ... ... ...
    IMAGE CREDITs: c/o The Daily 
    ... ... ...


     the GOOD 

    Being in the business of designing for mobile applications myself, I've learned to take all the bile spewed by the general public with a grain of salt. Often its only the people with really negative things to say that bother commenting in the itunes app store. People who are happy with your application usually can't be bothered to post comments and the ones that do are subject to ridicule by the masses — who can't believe you don't agree with their point of view.

    So if you take this all into perspective, its been a good past week for Rupert Murdoch. Pundits far and wide have been falling all over themselves to compliment 'The Daily App' but, that was before they spent an extended period of time with it. Reviews were mostly based on brief demos versus days of actual use. Twenty-four hours later there were visible chinks in 'The Daily' app's armor. At least to me that's when the real fangs came out.

    Truth be told it was John Biggs writing for TechCrunch, an AOL property, that said it best, "I believe that the subset of users who read the NY Times and other news sources in Safari on the iPad will welcome a move to a standalone app. Provided the content quality stays high and the news value is there, this could be the first iPad app to beat Angry Birds and, more important, truly bring journalism into the 21st century."


     the BAD

    The NYConvergence was prescient when it reported (in December mind you) "Much of the negativity is tribal, says The New York Observer. The project is digital so print people are bothered, it’s an app, walled off from the open Internet, so web people don’t like it, and it comes from Rupert Murdoch, who is always controversial. On the other side is the fact that this is a newspaper specifically built for an Apple device, and anytime Steve Jobs gets involved, there is hope that the news business can return to a model where consumers pay more for news. And News Corp. is hiring journalists again." 

     

    the UGLY

    Innovative Interface, Slick Multimedia Features, Fair to Middling Content...Everyone agrees that Rupert Murdoch & Co got it right when it came to the design and UI of a daily newspaper app. However, after the novelty and honeymoon period wears off, there are troubling things that show the chinks in the armor. 

     

    PERFORMANCE:
    1. The longer you use it, the more cantankerous the app becomes: it forgets where you left off when you pause and perform an app switch. (multitasking)

    2. When you save an article to read later, it saves only the first spread. Meaning a long article truncates halfway through. Meaning you just wasted time starting an article since you will never know how it ends.

    3. The social media features are seriously hampered since you can't share all of the content, just the articles the publisher deems short enough to qualify as Internet "sound bites." Also the shared content ends up framed as advertising that shills on 'The Daily's' behalf. It only takes two or three alerts telling you that a certain article can't be shared, before you stop using the social media features entirely.


    RELIABILITY:
    1. If you engage in more than three videos within a single sitting, it crashes. On average it will crash about 2/3 through the paper requiring you to restart the app.

    2. Upon restart it takes approximately 2-3 minutes to reload content it has previously cached. Often it may take restarting the app multiple times before the content for the current day loads in its entirety.


    CONTENT:
    1. The Daily seems to cater to the lowest common denominator when it comes to article/topic selection and content. The writing is so very 'vanilla' or at times just a reposting of AP content readily available online for free. Which means you can hold off on canceling your subscription to the NY Times, USA Today or the Washington Post.

    2. It is true the video, 360 degree photos, interactive polls and animations are slick but, without more substance it comes off as mindless, pabulum. In the end, it all comes down to good writing and good journalism.

    3. Repeating content seems to abound as yesterday's news and features are rewritten, reprocessed and reused. The Super Bowl infographics are a good example of this phenomenon.

    CONCLUSION

    Yes, I will leave the app on my iPad and check in on Rupert Murdoch & Co. from time to time but, until the content improves I'm unlikely to put down good money for an annual subscription. Before we go — a side note to advertisers: Some early advertisers understood the benefit of the ipad platform and used it to their best advantage, infusing multimedia seamlessly with the swipe experience of reading a 'magazine' thats you Land Rover and the folks behind 'Rango.' Others misunderstood or didn't see the potential and just slapped the usual together, thats you Macy's and Verizon.

    ... ... ...

    As always, sometimes it is best to make up your own mind
    ... ... ...

    MORE of 'THE DAILY' APP 

    App Store Preview of 'The Daily'
    What Are The Odds We’ll See An Android Version Of The Daily?
    Who is 'The Daily" for?

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57381 2011-01-28T20:15:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z IMPROPER SNOW REMOVAL THWARTS WOULD-BE BANK ROBBER

    Woman Escapes Would-Be Bank Robber and Hostage Situation By Running
     
    01.28.2011  9:30 am Takoma Park, MD 

    A would-be bank robber, who was using a female bank employee as a human-shield, was shot Friday morning by the police in a dramatic hostage situation outside of the CapitalOne Bank, in Takoma Park, MD on University Boulevard. As shown in the video footage, police surrounded them after a dye pack in the stolen money was activated. During the struggle between the robber and the hostage, the unidentified woman started to run after the robber lost his footing on the recently snow covered curb. The robber appears to slip on the ice or snow and at that moment, is shot by the police.

    In what appears to be a a violation of the bank robber's code-of-conduct manual, the suspect actually chases after his hostage unaware that by doing so he would put himself right in the middle of more policemen than he could out-run. As of this writing the scene was still considered active and residents were warned to stay away from the scene because authorities were unsure if they had all robbers or accomplices in custody.

    1. the hostage ran from the scene
    2. a bomb squad was called to the scene. (no further details)
    3. the bank robber (alleged) was taken into custody and then transported to the hospital
    4. the bank robber's condition is unknown
    5. according to the AP, a bystander was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds
    6. per reports ( nbc4 and USA9 ) up to four people were injured
    7. Prince George's County police said an officer may have been shot in the leg

     As reported on NBC4's broadcast, a local shop owner was asked to call 911 by an unidentified man who entered the neighboring Starbuck's. The unidentified man said he had tried to take a gun away from the bank robber.

    ... ... ...

    Just another day in the Metropolitan Washington DC Area. At least no one got killed.

     

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57383 2010-12-03T03:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z LOST SOUL: the MAN IN THE MIRROR

    Why is it when we are given the opportunity to make eye contact with the homeless, we often look away? Is it shame? Is it pity? Or is it a fear we are unwilling to acknowledge? People have been homeless long before 2010. It is incomprehensible, even during times like these, that a nation such as ours has been unable to eradicate this condition.  

     ... ... ...
    IMAGE CREDIT: BBoomerinDenial 
    ... ... ...

    the 350z ROADSTER
    I drive a 2004 Nissan 350z Roadster. It's a beauty. Truly sweet, like an artificially-colored maraschino cherry. I had been saving up for this car for so long it had gone out of production. When it came back it had changed body styles — twice, before I could make it mine.

    Anytime the temperature breaks the 53 degree threshhold I'm happily shamed into putting down the top by sixty-year old men in their own vintage convertibles. If they could brave the brisk temperatures who was I to cower behind the protection of double-layered canvas? It makes the commute to work that much more bearable and it is a joy to drive.

    The car does have one unexpected benefit. It puts me in the front row for the daily pageant of urban humanity — and sometimes lack thereof.

    Because of the convertible I am the prime target for questionable charity fundraisers, panhandlers, bearers of floral shop discards and the homeless. The former three are easily dismissed, the latter are hard to ignore. They are even harder to acknowledge. I say this without remorse or pretention. I do not think I must be better than anyone who happens to be homeless, just lucky.

    I read somewhere that one of the most painful things for the homeless to deal with was the fact that they seemed to disappear from the center of people's vision. They instead thrived only in the general periphery. The same spectrum of vision reserved for blind spots and the brief period of night when it gets darkest before the dawn. We only notice when they make a fuss and even then, we discount them as crazy, schizophrenic or sufferers of tourettes. Yet often that is the furthest from the truth. Whenever I can, I do make eye-contact and I try to give them a look of understanding rather than pity. When prompted I engage in conversation. I fight the urge to think that the person is a scam artist or faking it so that they can beg for a living — because I'm sure no one dreams of growing up to become a panhandler. After money has changed hands and I've driven miles from that intersection I'm still affected.

    There was a man of confused and sad nature
    Thought no one loved him that was not true
    He said he was a lost soul didn't fit in anywhere
    Didn't know where to turn or who to turn to

    Just how much pride would one have to swallow to beg at an intersection? To hold up a sign that broadcast to the world that they've reached the end. To exclaim that perhaps this was the only way they could generate enough cash to feed themselves or their children for just one more day. The more I think about it the harder it is for me to justify how we could live in a country where this is allowed to happen. No matter how much I donate to SOME (so others might eat), no matter how much change I give out, no matter how much I volunteer (or wished that I could), I know it will not solve the problem until the collective "we" view homelessness the same way we do cancer.

    The summer before last, after seven months of unemployment, I was almost financially tapped. I had gone through my savings, borrowed from my mother and cut into the 401K. I was where many Americans were — between a rock and a hard place. I didn't have the income needed to sustain the mortgage any longer yet, if I sold the condo I'd be in debt and I wouldnt have a home of my own. I'd be homeless — though not exactly destitute. With good friends and family, some of whom served both functions, I made it through the roughest of times. What happens to people whose friends or family are uninvolved, gone or lacking?

    The real reason we avoid eye contact with the homeless hit very close to home, no pun intended. We do it because we're afraid when we look up, we will see ourselves in the eyes that stare back.

    the NATIONAL COALITION  ON HOMELESSNESS FACTSHEETS

    ... ... ...

    More than ever this holiday season its a time to give thanks for what we have — often its more than most can even hope for...

    ... ... ...

    ]]>
    monirom
    tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57385 2010-12-01T00:42:08Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z JUDGE GEORGE CHEW’s JUSTIFIABLY FAMOUS RIBS

    It is important to remember that good works come in many forms and some leave a very good taste in your mouth. This diversion from our usual serious posts come from my cousin's wife who also boosts my ego by reminding me that I'm her favorite in-law. Either that, or she hates having to deal with leftovers and knows I like to eat.

     ... ... ...
    IMAGE CREDITs (SIMULATED) OK Full Disclosure the ribs shown above are not pictures of the actual Judge George Chew's Justifiably Famous Ribs. They were so good we forgot to take pictures and by the time we remembered the remaining pile of bones were less than picturesque. So just imagine.
     ... ... ...

    Recipe Originally posted by the Washington Post. November 3, 2010*

     Judge George Chew came up with this simple recipe when he was in law school and was helping to raise money for an Asian American student group. He now sits on the immigration bench in New York City, and cooking, he says, is a way to balance the chaos and heartbreak he witnesses. "As my cooking evolved, I started to riff on the recipe, adding other ingredients. It is still changing depending on the availability of ingredients, but the essentials remain the bean and hoisin sauces and making people happy that they showed up to eat."


    MAKE AHEAD:

      • The marinade mixture needs to sit for 1 hour before the ribs are added.
      • The ribs need to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
      • 6 to 8 servings


        INGREDIENTS:

        • 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce 
        • 3 tablespoons ketchup  
        • 2 tablespoons maple sugar or syrup (see below)*
        • 2 tablespoons mirin 2 tablespoons Chinese black bean sauce
        • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
        • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
        • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
        • 1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce, such as Sriracha 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
        • 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced or grated (1 teaspoon)
        • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
        • Four or five 2 to 2-1/2 pound racks pork spareribs, trimmed

        *Maple sugar is available at some Balducci's stores and through online gourmet purveyors.


        DIRECTIONS:

        1. Combine the hoisin sauce, ketchup, maple sugar or syrup, mirin, black bean sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili sauce, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a large liquid-measuring cup; mix well and let rest (at room temperature) for 1 hour.

        2. Use a sharp knife to lightly score the meat side of the ribs.

        3. Place the ribs in a large nonreactive dish or in a few large resealable plastic food storage bags and use all of the marinade mixture to coat them.

        4. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days, turning and massaging the ribs every 8 hours.

        5. Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.

        6. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Arrange the ribs in a single layer on the baking sheets; place one sheet on each of the oven racks. Discard any leftover marinade.

        7. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn the ribs over and switch the positions of the baking sheets so the one that was on the bottom rack is now on the top rack. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn the ribs over and change the positions of the baking sheets again. Roast for 20 minutes. Switch the positions of the baking sheets one more time (no need to flip the ribs again); roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat pulls away from the bone.

        8. Transfer the ribs to a carving board, cut into individual ribs and serve.


        NUTRITION FACTS:

        Serving size: Per serving (based on 8) Calories: 490 % Daily Values* Total Fat: 37g 57 Saturated Fat: 13g 65 Cholesterol: 110mg 37 Sodium: 830mg 35 Total Carbohydrates: 13g 4 Dietary Fiber: n/a 0 Sugar: 9g Protein: 25g *Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Total Fat: Less than 65g Saturated Fat: Less than 20g Cholesterol: Less than 300mg Sodium: Less than 2,400mg Total Carbohydrates: 300g Dietary Fiber: 25g

        *Recipe Source: Adapted from "One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking," by Molly O'Neill (Simon & Schuster, 2010)

        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57387 2010-09-26T17:58:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z POTATO CHIPS, COMIC BOOKS and 70 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MARVEL™

        Congratulations, you got through my four-post diatribe on the Vietnam War. Sorry to put you through the wringer. In exchange for taking up so much of your reading time, today we're going to be addressing something a bit less taxing. Marvel Comics.  

         ... ... ...
        IMAGE CREDITs: Captain America by Joe Quesada
         ... ... ...

        STOP READING, TURN OFF THE LIGHT AND GO TO BED!

        One thing my parents never had to worry about when I was growing up was getting me to read. I was absorbing the English language faster than they could provide me with stimulus. I read everything I could get my hands on. Part of it was my natural curiosity about this life, this perspective and this country I was not privy to. Sure I went to the American School in Vientianne but, I really didn't fit in — I was the perpetual "new" kid.

        The American kids talked about TV shows that never showed up on my television and they ate processed foods my mom never brought home. The closest I ever got to processed foods was Coca-Cola, Cornflakes, hot dogs and tuna fish. These treats were verboten unless I was having a birthday party or some other event which required the attendance of other kids who would not eat Lao, Thai or Vietnamese food.

        Let me put things into perspective for you — I did not discover cheese until I was ten years old.

        I remember once coming home and regaling my mother about this new food called "potato chips." I just had to have some in my lunch. Never-mind that my mother made my lunch from scratch with fresh ingredients that were wholesome, delicious and good for me. I had to have those potato chips. So while I was fast asleep my poor mother peeled and deep-fried the type of gourmet potato chips one now finds at food emporiums such as Whole Foods or Balducci's. Needless to say, the next morning I regaled her with all the reasons I could not take these homemade and inferior chips to school for fear of losing face. (In actuality I didn't use the word inferior— I used one of those "get your mouth washed out with soap" words that ryhmes with "shmitty") All I can say is thank god my mother is a patient woman — otherwise I might have been smacked so hard I'd be the only kid in grade school wearing dentures. I have other processed food stories but, lets get back to Marvel Comics.

        For me Marvel Comics gave me social currency, it addressed all the father-son dynamics that existed in my relationship with my father and — they were just fun to read.  Remember being a kid in the 70s meant you rode bikes and you went swimming and played with toys that required a heck of a lot of imagination. There was no one sitting around at Kenner or Hasbro at that time insisting that kids needed an action figure with poses and outfits for every occasion. You had GI Joe and that was it. He had a million accessories but, only one kung-fu grip. There were no extended hours in front of the TV. Video games as we know them today had not even been invented yet.

        Between the library books, the translated Tintin books and Marvel Comics I was never without reading material. I came to know characters like Captain America, the Submariner, Thor, Spiderman and the Silver Surfer. Over time I was able to distinguish between drawing styles and writing styles. I gravitated towards the work of Jack Kirby and eventually John Byrne.

        Without a steady stream of material (my father used to bring them back with him in sporadic intervals after "business" trips) I eventually began to imitate the illustrators and over time — design my own comics. That planted the seed, that somewhere out in the undiscovered country known as America, people were getting paid to draw pictures in little boxes with word balloons. Thats what I wanted to do for a living. In the end I didn't end up at Marvel or DC, I ended up in design, advertising, PR and now mobile/app design for iphone, ipad, android, blackberry etc. But, there are days when I would drop everything for a gig at Marvel Comics — should they come knocking.

        Until then here's what I promised you in the headline, the arcane and sometimes intriguing facts about Marvel Comics (the Company):

        • Michael Jackson once came close to owning Marvel. According to Stan Lee's former business partner, Peter Paul - who was jailed in 2005 for stock fraud - Jackson agreed to buy Marvel on Lee's behalf. Paul had met Lee in 1989 and had brought him onboard the American Spirit Foundation, a charitable organisation he ran with the actor James Stewart. Spotting the worth of Marvel's superhero properties, Paul hatched a plan to bring in investors to buy Marvel and install Lee as company's head.

          In 1991-92, he put together a Japanese/American investment group and approached Marvel's owner, Ron Perelman. with an offer to buy the company for about $28 million. Perelman decided instead to take Marvel public. Paul tried again several years later, this time lining up Jackson as an investor. Jim Salicrup, a former Marvel editor who was present at the meetings Jackson had with Lee and Paul, remembers Jackson saying to Lee: "If I buy Marvel, you'll help me run it, won't you?" Paul said that Marvel's owner at the time, Ike Perlmutter, was unwilling to take less than $1 billion for the company and Jackson eventually lost interest.

          Stan Lee has a different take on Jackson's interest in Marvel. "I had been to his place in Neverland ... and he wanted to do Spider-Man," he told MTV News in July. "I'm not sure whether he just wanted to produce it or wanted to play the role, you know? Our conversation never got that far along." Lee said that the singer had hoped to buy the rights to Spider-man. "He thought I'd be the one who could get him the rights and I told him I couldn't, he would have to go to the Marvel company."

        • Casablanca Records helped to create the X-Men hero Dazzler. The record label, which produced hits for Cher, Donna Summer and the Village People, had approached Marvel with the idea of a Disco superhero that they could cross promote. According to Marvel editor Louise Simonson, Casablanca said, "Hey, you make a singer and we'll create someone to take on the persona." However, the collaboration proved fraught and ended with both parties walking away from the deal.

        • The Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant once worked for Marvel. Between 1975 and 1977, Tennant was an editor at Marvel's UK division, a job that required him to anglicise American spellings and indicate when the more scantily dressed superheroines needed to be redrawn decently.

        • Jack Kirby, the artist who co-created the Fantastic Four with Stan Lee, was removed from the cover of the Fantastic Four's 20th anniversary issue. The issue's artist, John Byrne, had originally included both Kirby and Lee among the cast of characters squeezed onto the cover but at the behest of Marvel executives Kirby was erased from the final artwork. This may have had something to do with arguments Kirby was having with Marvel at the time over the ownership of his artwork.
        • The Hulk that appeared in the classic TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno was almost red in colour. In an interview with film website IGN, the show's executive producer, Kenneth Johnson, said: "I asked Stan Lee, 'Man, what's the logic of green? Is he the envious Hulk? Is he green with envy or jealousy?' The colour of rage is red, which I was pushing for because it's a real human colour - you know, when people get flushed with anger." Lee told him that the Hulk had in fact started out grey but due to problems with colour separation, the colour printed differently each time it was used. "Our printer came to us and said we can do a pretty consistent green, so we decided to go with green," Lee said. Thus the Hulk was coloured green from issue two of the Incredible Hulk onwards, although without any explanation. On hearing this, Johnson remembers telling Lee: "That's not really very organic! But that was a battle I could not win. I couldn't make the Hulk red because he was just too iconic already in the comic books."
        • FOR THE BALANCE OF THE FACTOIDS:
          Enjoy the work of the Designers at the Online school who have illustrated some of the 70 Facts You didn't Know About Marvel Comics (below) and if you can put down the processed food long enough to click the mouse a second time read the full list at the Sunday Times.

        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57388 2010-09-25T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z CONSEQUENCES of the VIETNAM WAR — the Pinky Show Transcripts Part IV (conclusion)

        PREVIOUSLY ON THE SKC BLOG:
        We explained why the United States became involved in Vietnam. Why did the U.S. think that Vietnam was worth so much killing and dying for? The most frequently-offered explanation, among American historians - is that the United States was in Vietnam in an attempt to stop communist expansion into South East Asia.

         ... ... ...
        IMAGE CREDITs ABOVE: NASA
        FACT: How long were we in the Vietnam War? Long enough for conspiracy theorists to dream up the idea that the Moon Landing was a hoax — a diversion to take the minds of the American people off the war itself.
         ... ... ...


        THE CLIFF NOTES, edited from transcripts. Presented here are the real reasons as well as the U.S. government presentation of facts to the American public. 

        CHAPTER IV: CONSEQUENCES
        The Vietnam War memorial is a very powerful place. It's wall has over 58,000 names inscribed on it - the names of all those U.S. personnel who died in Vietnam. When you're there in person it is overwhelming. The 58,000 names represent those who died. About 150,000 more people suffered serious physical injury during the war, and no one can ever know how many more suffered emotionally, psychologically.


        • Do we know how many Vietnamese people died in the Vietnam War? The truth is that in Vietnam the devastation of the war ran so deep, and was so widespread, that no one really knows the exact number of people killed or seriously injured during the war years. Most estimates range between three to three and a half million Vietnamese people killed. No one also knows how many of those people were civilian - for political reasons the U.S. military would often add any dead body - man, woman, or child, civilian or not - as a dead Viet Cong or PAVN soldier for their body count. To this day, about 300,000 Vietnamese are still considered 'missing in action'. The numbers are hard to decipher, to say the least.

        WALL IMAGE CREDITS,   ALL OTHER IMAGE CREDITS

        • The war destroyed Vietnam in other ways as well. First there were the bombs. Vietnam endured the most concentrated, intense bombing history has ever seen. The United States rained 8 million tons of bombs down on Vietnam - that's almost three times the total amount of all the bombs dropped worldwide during all of World War II, all on a country that's a bit smaller than the size of California. The U.S. flattened schools, hospitals, Buddhist temples, crops — everything.

        • The U.S. also used biological warfare in Vietnam. The purpose was to destroy the environment to make it hard for the Viet Cong to hide in the forests, or to destroy crops and livestock so that the Vietnamese people might surrender due to starvation and other forms of suffering. More than 6 million acres of South Vietnam were sprayed, including entire villages and farms. This killed thousands of civilians and contaminated land so severely that in some parts of Vietnam, trees have only recently started to grow again. A wide range of crippling and disfiguring birth defects, caused by the teratogens that were put in the chemicals, are another lasting legacy of this vicious warring tactic.

        IMAGE CREDITS

        • Millions of Vietnamese became refugees. Nobody knows how many thousands of people perished during this time. An estimated six million unexploded mines and bombs remain in Vietnam and continue to kill farmers and children even today. The lingering effects of the war in Vietnam are too vast to list. How do we put this without sounding stupid or naive? It almost seems like the war was out of control.

        • Any war, any conflict, causes tremendous suffering among those involved. It's also true that all wars are not the same; that each war is, in a sense, unique. Many military historians have pointed out that, even by war standards, the Vietnam War was a very cruel and brutal war. From a technological-military standpoint, you have the world's richest and most powerful military, fighting an all-out war against a relatively small, extremely poor, Third World country — you could almost say that the results were predictable. This in itself doesn't really explain why the United States chose to devastate Vietnam to such an extreme - policies that drove its people, its culture, its history, its environment, to the very brink of annihilation.

        IMAGE CREDITS

        • Somebody had to decide that they were going to absolutely devastate the country. Do people really make these kinds of decisions? You could say that it was that way by design. Part of the reason why U.S. war planners consciously utilized only the most ultra-violent tactics was directly related to their flawed analyses. Because they mischaracterized the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese as essentially 'proxy armies', the U.S. plan for victory became relatively simple: kill as many people as possible, inflict so much unbearable suffering, that eventually their will would be broken and they would surrender. This is why only the most brutal tactics were chosen - to best exploit the inherent weakness of an enemy who was presumed to be fighting someone else's cause. Which of course also explains why the strategy failed. That this strategy also dovetailed neatly with America's own history of racism and class warfare goes without saying.

        • If the leaders in the United States had been able to look at the Vietnamese as fully human, maybe this particular moment in history could have unfolded differently. After reading through all these books and documents, I've come to two main personal conclusions: the first is that in times of conflict or war, for various reasons, people tend to make a conscious effort to strip their enemy of their humanness. I'm convinced this only leads to more pain, and more death. The second is that this doesn't have to happen.
        IMAGE CREDITS
        ... ... ... ... ...

        CHAPTER IV: CONSEQUENCES is the LAST POST IN THIS 4 PART SERIES
        Iif you just want to know everything right now go back to the first post in this series and watch the video. It requires a 40 min and 23 second commitment. (after the jump scroll down the page to reach the video)

        Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

        ... ... ...

        BIBLIOGRAPHY for the PINKYSHOW EPISODE 060809-1

        1. Cultures in Conflict: The Viet Nam War. Robert E. Vadas. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut/London, 2002.
        2. The Eyewitness History of the Vietnam War, 1961-1975. George Esper and the Associated Press. Villard Books, New York, 1983.
        3. Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam. Paul Frederick Cecil. Praeger Publishers, New York/Westport, Connecticut/London, 1986.
        4. The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War. Brian Beckett. Multimedia Publications (UK), 1985.
        5. The Pentagon Papers: as published by the New York times. Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
        6. A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. Howard Zinn. HarperPerennial, New York, 1980, 1995.
        7. A People's History of the Vietnam War. Jonathan Neale. The New Press, New York/London, 2001, 2003.
        8. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin Putnam, 2002.
        9. The Truth About the Most Dangerous and Destructive Nation. Raymond Hirashima. Vantage Press, 1978.
        10. The Umbrella of U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories Press, New York, 1999.
        11. Vietnam. Larry Burrows. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002.
        12. Vietnam: A Long History. Nguyen Khac Vien. The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 1993.
        13. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. H. Bruce Franklin. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 2000.
        14. Vietnam: A Visual Encyclopedia. Philip Gutzman. PRC Publishing Ltd., 2002.
        15. The Vietnam Experience: The Aftermath, 1975-1985. Edward Doyle, Terrance Maitland, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        16. The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Clark Dougan, David Fulghum, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        17. The Vietnam Experience: Raising the Stakes. Terrance Maitland, Stephen Weiss, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        18. Vietnam Front Pages. Hal Drake (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, New York, 1986.
        19. Vietnam: The Secret War. Kevin M. Generous. Bison Books, New York, 1985.
        20. Vietnam: The War in the Air: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Air Forces in the Vietnam War: Air Force Army, Navy, and Marines. Col. Gene Gurney, USAF (ret.). Crown Publishers, New York, 1985.
        21. The Vietnam War: An Almanac. John S. Bowman (general editor) & Fox Butterfield (introduction). Bison Books, New York, 1985.
         
        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57391 2010-09-23T15:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z SEARCHING for REASONS BEHIND the VIETNAM WAR — the Pinky Show Transcripts Part III

        PREVIOUSLY ON THE SKC BLOG:
        Vietnam existed for aeons before Americans suddenly started thinking about it in the 1960s as this far-away and nightmarish place. Jungles, rice paddies, war, etc. The Vietnamese are an ancient people, with their own culture and their own identity. Even in ancient times, they had to struggle against foreign domination. Within the context of the Vietnam War we now know of the timeline, the events and the players — but what of the motives?

         ... ... ...
        IMAGE CREDITs ABOVE: Mike Stimpson
        If you prefer not to wait for the balance of the posts to be rolled out over the next few days you can watch the entire 40-minute episode of the Pinky Show in Part One of this series of posts here
        ... ... ...

        NOTE: This 'Fortunate Son' is not a cover of CCR's famous single but, an original work by Bruce Hornsby.

        THE CLIFF NOTES, edited from transcripts. Presented here are the real reasons as well as the U.S. government presentation of facts to the American public. 

        CHAPTER III: SEARCHING FOR REASONS
        So far we've described how the United States became involved in Vietnam, but we still haven't explained why. Why did the U.S. think that Vietnam was worth so much killing and dying for? The most frequently-offered explanation, among American historians - is that the United States was in Vietnam in an attempt to stop communist expansion into South East Asia.

        • Because Ho Chi Minh was a communist, the United States readily assumed that the Viet Minh were puppets of China, or maybe the Soviets, or maybe a little bit of both. The feeling at the time was that if the U.S. were to let the Viet Minh take control of Vietnam, then this would initiate a kind of chain reaction, in which nearby areas like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, etc., they would all fall, like a row of dominos and succumb to communist influence. We called this the 'domino theory', and basically the U.S. government believed that the obvious solution to such a situation was to make sure that the first domino (Vietnam) didn't fall. This is the main reason why the Eisenhower administration was willing to commit so much money and resources to create a "South Vietnam".

        • What was the perceived threat from communism? The U.S. saw communism as the enemy and other forms of socialism as well. Whenever people would talk about how bad communism is, often the reasons they'd give would be framed in terms of how communism is authoritarian and oppressive, while the U.S. is all about freedom and democracy. Which points to an obvious question: If U.S. foreign policy since World War II had been only about making moral choices between 'democracy' or 'authoritarianism', wouldn't the United States have a long history of supporting democratic movements on principle? The answer: It does not.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • A cursory review of the U.S.'s foreign policy decisions in the 20th century shows that the U.S. actually has a rather poor record when it comes to supporting democratic movements around the globe. The U.S. has been as willing to overthrow a democratically elected government or prop up a dictatorship - Indonesia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Congo, Philippines, Greece these are just a few examples.

        The single most important measure of a country's receiving support from the United States has been whether or not that country's markets, labor, or resources could be made available to American business.

         • Sometimes this has required supporting powerful landlords against peasants, in other cases installing a ruthless dictator produces the most desirable results. In the case of Vietnam, the situation required support of the business owners in the cities as well as the powerful landlords — waging a kind of class war against a landless peasantry. The important thing to remember is that the specifics have always been secondary to the primary objective of securing a stable environment in which American-style capitalism can thrive. This is the way in which U.S. foreign policy has actually been very consistent.

        Historian Jonathan Neale puts it as follows, "These state capitalist countries were a threat not so much because they called themselves 'socialist', but because they were competing capitalist powers and their markets were largely closed to American business."

        • Even to this day, most Americans tend to think of the Vietnam War as a kind of civil war. The fact remains, the Vietnam War was fundamentally between the people of Vietnam and the United States. That's why in Vietnam, the Vietnam War is not called the Civil War, it's called the American War. The Vietnamese saw the United States as a foreign occupier, and they were fighting in order to expel them from their country. In other words, from a Vietnamese perspective, it was a war for independence.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • Confused? If the Vietnam War wasn't a civil war, then how come there were Vietnamese in the South Vietnamese government, or Vietnamese serving in the South Vietnamese army - who were these people? Vietnam had been a French colony for a really long time. One of the ways a colonizer will often rule over a colony is to create a minority ruling class within the native population - give them privileges and power and have them do much of the dirty work. The French used these Vietnamese - the moneyed business class in the cities, land owners, Vietnamese Catholics, and so on, to rule over the rest of the population - mostly Buddhist, mostly rural, landless, and most of all, very poor. When the French were finally forced out of Vietnam, many of the Vietnamese who had benefitted from French rule turned their allegiance to the Americans. To the majority of the Vietnamese though, these people were supporting the subjugation of their own people - they were collaborators, traitors.

        • We Americans exploited this complicated situation - basically a class war and a land war wrapped up in a larger struggle for independence - by spinning the situation as a Civil War to the American people back home. The government knew that it could never get public support for military intervention in Vietnam if it said the war was being fought in order to secure business opportunities for the American elite. Instead it talked about it as if it were a civil war between two sides - a good side and an evil side. Of course the United States was supporting the good guys. The American public, totally ignorant of Vietnamese history, or even the logic of imperialism, bought it - at least for a while.

        • The Pentagon Papers, the U.S. State Department's own 'official history' of the Vietnam War, has approximately 4,000 pages of declassified information that any U.S. citizen can access. If you study the papers, it's quite clear that at the highest levels, American leaders had no illusions that they were fighting a war for the benefit of the Vietnamese people. To be blunt, most Americans couldn't have cared less about the Vietnamese peasants. It also seems very clear that of all the U.S. presidents, secretaries of state, generals - the U.S. leaders who were in control, none of them really took the Vietnamese perspective seriously. They were quite certain that their Cold War model, their domino theory explained everything quite nicely.

        Domino Theory Image from Chase Naminatsu, all others CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • They were locked into their own way of looking at the situation. They did not understand what motivated the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. More than any other single thing, this made America's defeat inevitable. The Vietnamese who fought the United States absolutely did not see their struggle as a mere 'subset' of some greater communist cause. They were not puppets of the Soviets, Chinese, or anybody else. Many people who fought for the VC and NVA were not even communists. They were fighting for the idea of an independent Vietnam and they understood their struggle to expel the Americans as being directly connected to a 2,000 year history of resistance to foreign domination. This knowledge, this feeling, was a core element of Vietnamese identity. Had the American leadership been willing to empathize with their enemy, perhaps they would have known that the Vietnamese were ready to fight to the last man; they would have never surrendered.

        • In hindsight, this American confusion between 'Cold War' versus 'War for Independence' seems obvious and embarrassing. Did the Americans not try to learn anything about Vietnamese history before taking on this war? Why did the American leadership disregard all reliable information on this matter, choosing instead to impose their own paradigm on the situation regardless of whether or not it fit? Was it just arrogance? Maybe it was all of the above. There exists the idea that maybe it had something to do with America's denial of its own colonial past. Maybe when a nation's own history of genocide or taking land by force is erased from memory, maybe that helped to render the Vietnamese people's struggle for land and sovereignty invisible. There is no other way to explain why they couldn't see what was happening right there in front of them.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        ... ... ... ... ...
        CHAPTER IV: CONSEQUENCES (posting in 2 days)
        • Reading all of the the text takes a wee bit of time, something many in our attention-span challenged culture have so little of — so Chapter IV of IV Chapters will be posted tomorrow. Or if you just want to know everything right now go back to the first post in this series and watch the video. It requires a 40 min and 23 second commitment. (after the jump scroll down the page to reach the video)

        Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

        ... ... ...

        BIBLIOGRAPHY for the PINKYSHOW EPISODE 060809-1

        1. Cultures in Conflict: The Viet Nam War. Robert E. Vadas. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut/London, 2002.
        2. The Eyewitness History of the Vietnam War, 1961-1975. George Esper and the Associated Press. Villard Books, New York, 1983.
        3. Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam. Paul Frederick Cecil. Praeger Publishers, New York/Westport, Connecticut/London, 1986.
        4. The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War. Brian Beckett. Multimedia Publications (UK), 1985.
        5. The Pentagon Papers: as published by the New York times. Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
        6. A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. Howard Zinn. HarperPerennial, New York, 1980, 1995.
        7. A People's History of the Vietnam War. Jonathan Neale. The New Press, New York/London, 2001, 2003.
        8. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin Putnam, 2002.
        9. The Truth About the Most Dangerous and Destructive Nation. Raymond Hirashima. Vantage Press, 1978.
        10. The Umbrella of U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories Press, New York, 1999.
        11. Vietnam. Larry Burrows. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002.
        12. Vietnam: A Long History. Nguyen Khac Vien. The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 1993.
        13. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. H. Bruce Franklin. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 2000.
        14. Vietnam: A Visual Encyclopedia. Philip Gutzman. PRC Publishing Ltd., 2002.
        15. The Vietnam Experience: The Aftermath, 1975-1985. Edward Doyle, Terrance Maitland, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        16. The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Clark Dougan, David Fulghum, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        17. The Vietnam Experience: Raising the Stakes. Terrance Maitland, Stephen Weiss, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        18. Vietnam Front Pages. Hal Drake (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, New York, 1986.
        19. Vietnam: The Secret War. Kevin M. Generous. Bison Books, New York, 1985.
        20. Vietnam: The War in the Air: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Air Forces in the Vietnam War: Air Force Army, Navy, and Marines. Col. Gene Gurney, USAF (ret.). Crown Publishers, New York, 1985.
        21. The Vietnam War: An Almanac. John S. Bowman (general editor) & Fox Butterfield (introduction). Bison Books, New York, 1985.
         
        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57394 2010-09-22T05:04:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z DISASTER AND STRUGGLE — a Timeline of the Vietnam War, the Pinky Show Transcripts Part II

        PREVIOUSLY ON THE SKC BLOG:
        A lot of the information that people think they know about the Vietnam is wrong. Factually incorrect. There's a lot of misinformation and false assumptions. In order to fully appreciate my upcoming posts about the fall of Laos from an insider's perspective (my fathers) and the day my father made that fateful call to my mother, it is important that you understand the reasons the U.S. fought the Vietnam War. You'll be surprised to find that the seeds of our involvement goes all the way back to WWII.

         ... ... ...
        IMAGE CREDITs ABOVE: Amnesty International's take on the Infamous Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.  If you prefer not to wait for the balance of the posts to be rolled out over the next few days you can watch the entire 40-minute episode of the Pinky Show in Part One of this series of posts here
        ... ... ...


        THE CLIFF NOTES, edited from transcripts. Presented here are the real reasons as well as the U.S. government presentation of facts to the American public.
         

        CHAPTER II:
        DESIRE & STRUGGLE, A BASIC TIME LINE OF EVENTS
        Vietnam existed for aeons before Americans suddenly started thinking about it in the 1960s as this far-away and nightmarish place. Jungles, rice paddies, war, etc. The Vietnamese are an ancient people, with their own culture and their own identity. Even in ancient times, they had to struggle against foreign domination.

        • China occupied Vietnam for approximately a thousand years. The Vietnamese finally expelled the Chinese in the 10th and 11th centuries, but then again in the mid-1800's, Vietnam again fell under foreign domination - this time colonized by France. The French ruled Vietnam through the use of Vietnamese puppet-governments, but the exploitation and oppression that the Vietnamese people suffered was no less severe because of it. French control of Vietnam would last almost a hundred years, until 1940, when Japan, following its own Imperialist dreams, began its own militarized occupation of Vietnam. The Japanese kept both the French and the figurehead Vietnamese emperor in place, while exercising control from behind the scenes - essentially a double-puppet government.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • In 1941 and continuing throughout the World War II years, the Viet Minh form. They are a group of Vietnamese nationalists, who dream of an independent Vietnam, free from foreign domination. Their first political and military objective is to oust the occupying Japanese and French from their homeland. Their leader, communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, is supported by the United States and China because he fights their mutual enemy, the Japanese, from within Vietnam.

        • As WWII was winding down, it started to become clear to that Japan was going to lose the war, and many Vietnamese believed that maybe their independence would be close at hand. It didn't happen. In summit meetings held at Yalta and Potsdam, leaders from the United States, Russia, and Britain sat down to decide how they were going to divide up the world after World War II Needless to say, the Vietnamese, or anybody else who 'didn't matter', they weren't invited. The planet was to be divided into spheres of influence - for example, the U.S. and Britain would have influence over Western Europe and the Soviet Union would have Eastern Europe, the United States would get control over North, Central, and South America, the U.S. and Britain would share control the Middle East, and so on.

        • Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn't a big fan of European Imperialism and he knew the people of Vietnam had suffered tremendously under French rule. But he was also very sensitive to his WWII allies - the English, the French - and English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a close friend of Roosevelt, he felt that if Vietnam were to gain its independence, that would be bad example to their own colonies in the British Empire, especially India. In the end the three powers agreed to let France 'keep' Vietnam.

        • Back in Vietnam, the Japanese surrender to the Viet Minh at the end of WWII. The Viet Minh declare Vietnam independent, and essentially there is a lot of partying in the streets. The good feelings don't last long. With Japanese Imperialism no longer a threat, the U.S. revokes its backing of the Viet Minh and Vietnamese independence, and instead transfers its support to the French, who immediately try to re-establish Vietnam as a colony.

        • It's obvious to the Viet Minh that they've been betrayed and they resist - full-scale war breaks out between the Vietnamese and the French in 1946. Although the war is generally referred to as the French Indochina War, behind the scenes the United States is France's 'silent partner', financing up to 80% of France's war costs. Even with all the money and guns on their side, the French are decisively defeated by the Viet Minh in 1954 after nine years of very bloody fighting. For the second time in ten years, it looked like the Vietnamese were on the verge of total independence.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • Again this was not the case, no independence yet. You would think that getting trounced on the battlefield means that the loser just picks up and leaves immediately, but in real wars, the situation is never that simple. The French had been in Vietnam for almost one hundred years, and the war amd the effects of colonization itself, had left the country in a disorganized mess. Also the formal terms of France's surrender had to be discussed. The French and the Viet Minh - along with China, the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union - they all meet in Geneva, Switzerland in 1954 to sort everything out.

        This is where it gets really interesting, but also a little bit tricky.

        • At the Geneva Accords, the first thing that needed to be decided was how to actually end the fighting and separate the combatants. It's decided that Vietnam would be temporarily divided in half into two "regroupment areas" - the Viet Minh forces would collect north of the 17th parallel, and the French forces south of the 17th. The French would then leave, and after a period of two years, a unified national election would be held in both the North and the South - at which time the Vietnamese people would be formally, and finally, independent and sovereign under a single government of their choice. This was the plan.

        • The two sides agreed to these terms for different reasons. Ho Chi Minh felt that that even though Viet Minh could have eventually wiped out the remaining French forces, he also knew that many more people would have had to die unnecessarily. Besides, Viet Minh had strong support among the Vietnamese people - he was sure that they could easily win a national election.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • The French and Americans, also wanted an end to the fighting - the French were incapable of a military victory and continuing would have been senseless. A two-year window before a national election was attractive to the Americans because they also knew that if an election were to be held right away, that the Viet Minh would easily win. The U.S. didn't want a communist government in Vietnam, a government that would be more politically and economically aligned with China or the Soviet Union rather than the United States. The U.S. saw the two-years as a window of opportunity during which they'd have the chance to pour money and material goods into the southern half of Vietnam to create some semblance of a good economy. This would maybe win over enough of the Vietnamese peasants to elect a government that would be more open to U.S. influence.

        • That's exactly what the U.S. did. As the French left Vietnam, the United States seized the moment and immediately embarked on an enormous project of 'nation building'. The result was a new nation - "South Vietnam". This in itself is one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of the Vietnam War. One of the fundamental 'facts' that Americans 'know' about the Vietnam War era is that there was a North Vietnam (communist) and a South Vietnam (democratic), and that the United States was helping the South Vietnamese repel communist aggression. What most people don't realize is that South Vietnam was essentially invented by the United States as a base for building and maintaining its own interests in Asia. There was nothing in the Geneva Accords that explicitly stated that Vietnam was to become two separate countries.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • Most people just say 'South Vietnam', 'North Vietnam', like it was always this way. They don't realize that a particular situation was exploited by the United States and that the division was created in an attempt to create a foothold from which they could exert their interests in the region. The Vietnamese people by and large did not want their country split in half.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • Next, the United States installs a puppet government in the newly created South Vietnam. They choose a devout anti-communist Catholic named Diem - recently emerged from exile in New Jersey - to head their new government in Saigon. The two years go by quickly and as the agreed-upon national elections approach, it becomes clear that Diem and his American backers are still not popular enough to win an election against the more popular Ho Chi Minh. The U.S. encourages Diem to block the 1956 elections, which he does - the elections never take place.

        • Diem's regime is characterized by corruption and oppression, and by around 1960, grassroots opposition - with support from the Viet Minh leadership in the north - begin to coalesce in the southern countryside. They are the National Liberation Front, or NLF - Diem and the Americans call them the Viet Cong. This is one of the more common misunderstandings about the Vietnam War. We know that we fought against an enemy called the Viet Cong and just assume that the Viet Cong were from North Vietnam. In actuallity, especially in the earlier phases of the war, most of the Viet Cong were from the South. They received guns and supplies and other kinds of support from the Viet Minh in the north, but the Viet Cong were actually rooted in the Vietnamese peasantry of South Vietnam. This pretty much contradicts what most people have in their imagination. Americans and South Vietnamese in the South, Viet Cong in the North [in North Vietnam], everybody fighting against each other somewhere in the middle in the 'battlefront' area. This is not accurate.

        CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        • The Viet Cong were essentially a social and political revolutionary movement dedicated to ousting the Americans and their puppet government by force. The United States considered them the enemy and that's why almost all of the fighting during the Vietnam war took place within the borders of 'South Vietnam'. Ironically, you had the President of the United States telling the American people that we're there to help the Vietnamese maintain their independence, and at the same time we're over there in their country fighting them as the enemy?

        • It's important to point these kinds of things out, because understanding the geography of the war also reveals a certain reality that somehow still manages to escape American consciousness - that essentially, the U.S. military was trying to squash an armed uprising of Vietnamese, who were in turn just trying to get the American occupiers out of their country.

        • By 1963, the Viet Cong had gained widespread popular support throughout South Vietnam. The United States was getting annoyed by Diem's inability to control the situation and orchestrates his assassination in November of that year. Immediately after that the U.S. starts exercising much more direct control over South Vietnam. Back in America, President John F. Kennedy is himself assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency.

         

         

        The following year, 1964, represents a crucial turning point. Privately, the Johnson Administration has decided that an all-out war is the only way to defeat the Vietnamese, but American public opinion remains sharply divided. The solution: the Administration orchestrates a 'wartime media-event' - the infamous "Gulf" of Tonkin Affair - in which the U.S. accuses North Vietnam of firing torpedos at an American destroyer with torpedo boats. This never actually happened, but the story is good enough to galvanize the American people and Congress. Infuriated by the (imaginary) act of aggression, Congress overwhelming approves The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August, 1964. The resolution gives President Johnson broad powers to use military force at his discretion. And this he does - U.S. warplanes begin bombing North Vietnam almost immediately - the first of several intense bombing campaigns that would continue for almost a decade. By 1969, there are more than half-a-million U.S. troops in Vietnam, all fighting in a country most Americans can barely find on a map, fighting an enemy that no one seems to understand.

        John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas crop.png

        John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963 Photo by Victor Hugo King, cc, others CLICK for IMAGE CREDITS

        This 'war-time" media-event reminds many current thought leaders of Iraq and the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" campaign. Or the U.S.S. Maine and the Spanish American War. "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

        ... ... ... ... ...
        CHAPTER III: SEARCHING FOR REASONS  (posting in 2 days)
        • Reading all of the the text takes a wee bit of time, something many in our attention-span challenged culture have so little of — so Chapter III of IV Chapters will be posted tomorrow. Or if you just want to know everything right now go back to the first post in this series and watch the video. It requires a 40 min and 23 second commitment. (after the jump scroll down the page to reach the video)

        Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

        ... ... ...

        BIBLIOGRAPHY for the PINKYSHOW EPISODE 060809-1

        1. Cultures in Conflict: The Viet Nam War. Robert E. Vadas. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut/London, 2002.
        2. The Eyewitness History of the Vietnam War, 1961-1975. George Esper and the Associated Press. Villard Books, New York, 1983.
        3. Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam. Paul Frederick Cecil. Praeger Publishers, New York/Westport, Connecticut/London, 1986.
        4. The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War. Brian Beckett. Multimedia Publications (UK), 1985.
        5. The Pentagon Papers: as published by the New York times. Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
        6. A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. Howard Zinn. HarperPerennial, New York, 1980, 1995.
        7. A People's History of the Vietnam War. Jonathan Neale. The New Press, New York/London, 2001, 2003.
        8. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin Putnam, 2002.
        9. The Truth About the Most Dangerous and Destructive Nation. Raymond Hirashima. Vantage Press, 1978.
        10. The Umbrella of U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories Press, New York, 1999.
        11. Vietnam. Larry Burrows. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002.
        12. Vietnam: A Long History. Nguyen Khac Vien. The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 1993.
        13. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. H. Bruce Franklin. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 2000.
        14. Vietnam: A Visual Encyclopedia. Philip Gutzman. PRC Publishing Ltd., 2002.
        15. The Vietnam Experience: The Aftermath, 1975-1985. Edward Doyle, Terrance Maitland, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        16. The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Clark Dougan, David Fulghum, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        17. The Vietnam Experience: Raising the Stakes. Terrance Maitland, Stephen Weiss, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        18. Vietnam Front Pages. Hal Drake (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, New York, 1986.
        19. Vietnam: The Secret War. Kevin M. Generous. Bison Books, New York, 1985.
        20. Vietnam: The War in the Air: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Air Forces in the Vietnam War: Air Force Army, Navy, and Marines. Col. Gene Gurney, USAF (ret.). Crown Publishers, New York, 1985.
        21. The Vietnam War: An Almanac. John S. Bowman (general editor) & Fox Butterfield (introduction). Bison Books, New York, 1985.
         
        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57396 2010-09-19T21:04:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z WHY THE U.S. FOUGHT THE VIETNAM WAR, AS EXPLAINED BY TWO CATS (Not a Typo)

        In the course of trying to understand my Dad's role with the CIA during the fall of Vietnam and subsequently the surrounding countries (including Laos) I talked to more than a few relatives who lived through it, read through stacks of my fathers notes and read more than a few books. These books included Robert McNamara's 'In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam' In the preface is a telling quote, it reads:

        "We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and tradition of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why." Even with this knowledge I haven't always been able to reconcile all the differing points of view until I stumbled across this gem on the internet. 'The Pinky Show's response to a viewers request that they explain how and why the U.S. fought the Vietnam War.'

        In order to fully appreciate my next upcoming posts about the fall of Laos from an insider's perspective (my fathers) and the day my father made that fateful call to my mother, it is important that you understand the reasons the U.S. fought the Vietnam War. You'll be surprised to find that the seeds of our involvement goes all the way back to WWII.

        ... ... ...
        You can watch the 40-minute episode of the Pinky Show below, see it full screen on YouTube or if your internet connection is unreliable, read my cliff notes of the episode. Regardless, buckle yourself in, it's either a 40min video or a bajillion word summary — chopped into four parts released over four days. Perfect for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon reading!

        CLICK ON THE EXPAND ICON (BOX WITH 4 ARROWS ON THE CORNER) to WATCH THIS FULL SCREEN • DONATE to the PINKYSHOW (tax deductible 501 3c!)CREDITSTRANSCRIPTS

        ABOUT THE PINKY SHOW: "The Pinky Show is the original super lo-tech hand-drawn educational TV show. We focus on information & ideas that have been misrepresented, suppressed, ignored, or otherwise excluded from mainstream discussion. Pinky presents and analyzes the material in an informal, easy-to-understand way, with helpful illustrations that she draws herself. Episodes are available on the internet for free at www.PinkyShow.org."
        ... ... ... ... ...

        THE CLIFF NOTES, edited from transcripts. Presented are the real reasons as well as the U.S. government presentation of facts to the American public.

        ... ... ... ... ...

        CHAPTER I: MISINFORMATION

        A lot of the information that people think they know about the Vietnam is wrong. Factually incorrect. There's a lot of misinformation and false assumptions.

        "As you know, the U.S. for more than a decade has been assisting the government, the people of Vietnam, to maintain their independence."

        ~ John F. Kennedy


        • There is a problem with this statement. It's problematic because the first half of the sentence is misleading, and the second half is simply untrue.

        • When President Kennedy refers to, "the government, the people of Vietnam", he fails to mention which government, which obviously is very important. Because during the Vietnam War era, there was more than one government struggling for control - and the one that had the strongest support among the Vietnamese people wasn't the one the United States was supporting.

        • When Kennedy said "assisting... the people of Vietnam, to maintain their independence", it sounds like the Vietnamese people were helpless in the face of some foreign aggressor, which the United States was helping them to repel. In actuality, the foreign aggressor was the United States. The word "independence" is problematic. By definition, 'independence' implies 'self-determination, sovereignty'. But the United States had only recently stopped bankrolling the French war against the Vietnamese people, in their attempt to try to keep Vietnam under French colonial rule. So a statement like this only makes sense if you accept the rather ridiculous idea that the Vietnamese needed our help in order to maintain their independence from... themselves.

        • This is a simple illustration of why the Vietnam War is so hard to get a grip on. Most Americans think we know at least a little bit about the Vietnam War. Things we've seen in movies and TV, information received from the government, from newspapers, from high school textbooks — the problem is that so much of that stuff is factually incorrect or misleading. Interpretation of facts is one thing, but you can't have understanding built on outright misinformation.

        ... ... ... ... ...
        CHAPTER II: DESIRE & STRUGGLE, A BASIC TIME LINE OF EVENTS (posting in 2 days)
        • Reading all of the the text takes a wee bit of time, something many in our attention-span challenged culture have so little of — so Chapter II of IV Chapters will be posted tomorrow. Or if you just want to know everything right now go back and watch the video above. It requires a 40 min and 23 second commitment.

        Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story

        ... ... ...

        BIBLIOGRAPHY for the PINKYSHOW EPISODE 060809-1

        1. Cultures in Conflict: The Viet Nam War. Robert E. Vadas. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut/London, 2002.
        2. The Eyewitness History of the Vietnam War, 1961-1975. George Esper and the Associated Press. Villard Books, New York, 1983.
        3. Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam. Paul Frederick Cecil. Praeger Publishers, New York/Westport, Connecticut/London, 1986.
        4. The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War. Brian Beckett. Multimedia Publications (UK), 1985.
        5. The Pentagon Papers: as published by the New York times. Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
        6. A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. Howard Zinn. HarperPerennial, New York, 1980, 1995.
        7. A People's History of the Vietnam War. Jonathan Neale. The New Press, New York/London, 2001, 2003.
        8. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin Putnam, 2002.
        9. The Truth About the Most Dangerous and Destructive Nation. Raymond Hirashima. Vantage Press, 1978.
        10. The Umbrella of U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories Press, New York, 1999.
        11. Vietnam. Larry Burrows. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002.
        12. Vietnam: A Long History. Nguyen Khac Vien. The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 1993.
        13. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. H. Bruce Franklin. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 2000.
        14. Vietnam: A Visual Encyclopedia. Philip Gutzman. PRC Publishing Ltd., 2002.
        15. The Vietnam Experience: The Aftermath, 1975-1985. Edward Doyle, Terrance Maitland, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        16. The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Clark Dougan, David Fulghum, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        17. The Vietnam Experience: Raising the Stakes. Terrance Maitland, Stephen Weiss, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
        18. Vietnam Front Pages. Hal Drake (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, New York, 1986.
        19. Vietnam: The Secret War. Kevin M. Generous. Bison Books, New York, 1985.
        20. Vietnam: The War in the Air: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Air Forces in the Vietnam War: Air Force Army, Navy, and Marines. Col. Gene Gurney, USAF (ret.). Crown Publishers, New York, 1985.
        21. The Vietnam War: An Almanac. John S. Bowman (general editor) & Fox Butterfield (introduction). Bison Books, New York, 1985.
         
        ]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57397 2010-08-06T07:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z A ROMANTIC VIEW of VCU’s CA&D PROGRAM

        FACULTY MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO DESIGN SCHOOLS

        One thing I lament about design schools these days is not all of them give students what is promised in the recruitment brochures. Thats why I still consider attending Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) one of my best life decisions. When I first started, I remember applying to Parsons, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and VCU. I was accepted to them all but, could only afford to attend VCU. (I had to pay my own way and the in-state tuition was the tipping point.) Regardless, VCU was/is one of the top rated public universities with dedicated art and design programs. It was also grueling.

         IMAGE CREDITS: Various Student, Alumni and Faculty work

        MONOLITHIC NONRELATIONAL OBJECTS

        During our freshman year we didn't design a single logo, not one page layout, not one product package. Instead you went through "Art Foundation" (code for lets torture these kids and see if they really want to become artists) which included multiple six-hour studios twice a week, classes in visual thinking, communication as well as the requisite academic classes. We were given assignments such as, "Next week, bring to class an original, non-relational, monolithic object." When we asked for clarification, none was given and for a full week most of us were dumb-founded. Those of us who thought we had a clue, had our solutions publicly dissected. In the eyes of Richard Carlyon, our instructor, we all failed. We were asked in our second week to try again. Another project involved developing a solution for "visual sound." Again in the eyes of Richard Carlyon, our instructor, we all failed. We would come to realize Art Foundation was less about showing your innate talent than weeding out those who didn't have the chops — a blessing for many who were forced to reevaluate their true desires in a career and a life after college.

        IMAGE CREDITS: Various Student, Alumni and Faculty work

        DECLARING A MAJOR, THE PORTFOLIO REVIEW

         Your sophomore year you had to declare a major within the school of arts. Some became sculptors, others chose to become painters, illustrators, print-makers, interior designers, fashion illustrators, multi-media artists, animators, photographers or filmmakers. All these majors accepted the sophomores with open arms. However, if you wanted to major in Communication Arts & Design (CA&D), you had endure a second gauntlet — a juried portfolio review at the end of your freshman year. The program attracted hundreds of hopefuls for the 50-60 available slots, essentially 10-15 students for every one opening. It could have been more it could have been less, 20 years later the memory wanes.You dropped off your portfolio in the morning and would return with the rest of the hopefuls in the evening to pick up the evaluation form. If you were successful you found a note welcoming you to the CA&D program. If you didn't make it in, you received a note of consolation and instructions on what to do to improve and what classes to take in the interim (200 level minimum university requirements like english, math, social sciences — while you waited another semester to reapply.) You weren't kicked out of the university, just denied access to the CA&D program.

        OF THOSE WHO DID NOT MAKE IT, some were determined they would not fail a second time and took the jury's advice to heart, others were distraught and changed majors. Still others were more more drastic in their expression of disappointment and tried to harm themselves. It was these last group of students whose parents complained and threatened legal action that gave VCU's governing body pause. This allowed them to consider relaxing their requirements and grow their CA&D classes — at least that was the rumor.

        THOSE WHO MADE IT THROUGH were subject to a mandatory curriculum; three years of advanced typography, three years of graphic design, visual thinking, art history, design history, B&W as well as color photography (using film) the courses go on and on. You were always exhausted if you took your assignments seriously.

         IMAGE CREDITS: Various Student, Alumni and Faculty work

        FACULTY

         In return for your diligence you got to work with faculty like John Demao, Philip B. Meggs, Rob Carter, Ben Day, Richard Carlyon, Akira Ouchi, Lindsey Brinks, Nancy Strube and Robert Meganck. They all came from different backgrounds and themselves had been graduates of RIT, RISD, Parsons, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Columbia, Cal State, Cambridge, SUNY, VCU, Cooper Union, Ohio State and Carnegie Mellon. Some of these names are recognizable to the general public because they authored many of the books used in design schools around the world, they are part of the fabric of AIGA (past and present), others are recognizable only to their students. Though many of them held multiple degrees, BAs, BFAs, MFAs, MAs they were very approachable. You'd as likely to run into them on campus as you would at the Home Depot. (though it was called Home Center or some other brand in Richmond, before they folded/merged into Lowes)

        Regardless of tenure or stature one thing my professors did ( constantly ) was push you to do better. They harangued you if you didn't live up to your promise. Some refused to accept your projects for grading if you worked below your potential. Some required you to redo the project and resubmit. To them it was better to get docked for turning in something late than turning in rubbish. They taught because they loved to teach. How did we know they loved to teach? Every Spring the student newspaper, the Commonwealth Times, would publish the salaries of all VCU professors. State school, public knowledge. It was painfully obvious that most of the faculty were not being paid enough to earn a living by teaching alone. This was a blessing. In order to make ends meet, many would write and publish design books and were practicing designers running their own design studios or agencies. They brought their real world experiences to their classes and we, the students, benefited as a result.

        What I remember most about studying at VCU was that of the faculty I gravitated to, not one of them taught me a technique, or how to use a piece of software, or even how to solve a problem. Show the student the way and it becomes a crutch. The faculty I benefited from most taught us how to see the world differently, taught us to think, how to communicate, how to use color, how to illustrate with typography, how to break 3-D space, harness light and to see the beauty in the human form.There would be more than enough time in future years for honing your Adobe CS skills and camping out in the Mac Lab.

        To be fair, VCU graduated its fair share of nonstarters. The faculty and the curriculum is only half of the equation, it is up to the student to take advantage of the brain-trust available at the design schools. A degree may get you in the door but, it won't get you the job. Some saw the gauntlet as a way for the professors to get the upper hand, like catholic school nuns. I prefer to think of them as getting us ready for the real world. If they didn't do it, the world would have done it for them. And the world is not always kind. So here's to you Phil Meggs, Akira Ouichi, Robert Meganck, Rob "Don't Stretch Type" Carter (you too Lindsay Brinks) for making the class of '88 what we are today.

        ... ... ... ... ...
        Hyperlinks to:
        Rob Carter: Books
        Robert Meganck: Website
        Nancy Strube: Notes
        A History of Communication Arts
        The VCU CA&D department

        ... ... ... ... ...
        In Memorium
        Phil Meggs: Wiki
        Richard Carlyon: Microsite]]>
        monirom
        tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57400 2010-08-03T19:30:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z RICH MAN, POOR MAN, BEGGAR MAN, THIEF

        My next three future/alternating posts address reasons for the Vietnam War, the fall of Laos from an insiders point of view and my family’s eventual exodus from our own country. Before you can understand my father's role in all of these events it is important that you understand who my father was and what my father did for a living.

        In 2003, my father asked for my help formatting his curriculum-vitae which ended up being equal parts résumé, biography and family tree. This would be the first time I truly understood what his country meant to my father. With so much on his plate it also explained why I did not see him as often as I wanted to. It may also explain why I'm a recovering work-aholic.  

        PHOTO ABOVE: Thats me with my Dad in camouflage. Gun control proponents should note that 1. this picture was taken war time. 2. the gun is unloaded 3. its a Daisy BB gun — so no, my Dad did not put me in peril. And no, I have no idea why my father is wearing an ascot with his army uniform.
        ... ... ...

         

        After our exodus from Laos, my father was often disappointed by the opportunities presented to him. It takes a lot for a man, who is used to helping a monarchy run a country, to swallow his pride and accept a job in finance. Though he always believed that there was nobility in an honest days work, I believe that my father thought he had disappointed the family by not planning properly — leaving our savings and investments behind. Clearly his family did not agree with this assumption.

        When he was passed over for a promotion at Chocolaterie Cantalou, he opted for an early retirement. He seemed to be in a constant state of melancholy. I often gifted him with stick figure drawings of UN forces overthrowing the communist government that occupied Laos after 1975. These gifts of ink and yellow legal paper would bring a slight smile to his face. I stopped drawing them when they no longer evoked the desired effect. Only after years of living in France did he mellow, take to adopting cats and really enjoy living in the present. This did not mean he forgot about his country nor did he ever give up dreams of being able to restore the country of Laos to its former glory.

        BIRTH
        Born in Vientiane, Laos on September, 1925 to Chao Saythavinh (father) and Mome Temkham (mother), of the house of Southaka-Souvannakoumar of Chaonoï Heng Nakhone-Phoueuane of the former kingdom of Xieng-Khouang. 

        EDUCATION
        He was educated at the Universities of Cambodia, South Vietnam and France (Paris-Sorbonne*) Under the auspices of the United Nations, he had internships at major law, economics and financial institutions in Switzerland, Holland and France.

        PHOTO ABOVE: Dad, 2nd from the left.

        CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

        Entered into a career in political administrative career in Laos, given the following responsibilities and functions:

        • Private secretary, then Cabinet Chief of his highness, Prince Phetsarath, Tiao Maha-Oupahat, Viceroy of Laos
        • Prime minister of the royal government of Louangpra-Bang to Hosanam Louang.
        • Political Cabinet Director of his highness Prince Souvanna-Phouma, Prime Minister of the first royal government of Laos, newly independent member of the french commonwealth.
        • Director of International Conferences to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos. Participated in the Franco-Laotian Modus-Vivendi, and in the first Franco-Laotian friendship and trade agreement, which outlined the limits of the treaty giving independence to Laos in the french commonwealth.
        • Director of protocol in the royal government.
        • Private secretary to his majesty, King Sisavang Vong.
        • Political Cabinet Chief of his royal highness, heir to the throne of Laos, Prince Sri-Savang Vatthana.
        • Secretary General of the Royal Palace of Laos.
        • Chief Director of Protocol at the Laotian Court.
        • Representative of the kingdom of Laos to the high commission of the French Republic in Indochina, Commander in Chief of the French Armed Forces in the far east.
        • Minister of Foreign Affairs to the royal government of Laos.
        • Laotian Ambassador to Vietnam (Saigon), to the Philippines (Manila), to Cambodia (Phnom-Penh), to Indonesia (Jakarta), to France (Paris), and to Israel (Tel Aviv).
        • President of the National Assembly of Laos.
        • Attache to his majesty, the king of Laos on his state visits and official trips abroad.
        • Represented Laos in the official ceremonies of the countries awaiting independence in Africa and Asia.
        • Participated in the Asian Union Parliamentary Conference, in the Global Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference, and the French Language Parliamentary Conference.
        • Member of the International Conference on Laos in Geneva in 1954 and in 1962.
        • Attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of England.

         POLITICAL & SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

        • Member of parliament, Deputy of the province of Xiengkhovang, elected for four consecutive legislative terms.
        • President and Founder of the Seri-Prachathipatay Party (liberal democracy), majority party within the parliament.
        • Actively participated in Global Inter-Parliamentary Conferences, twice re-elected vice president of the Global Inter-Parliamentary Union and Vice President of the Parliamentary Union of Asia, privileged member of the French Language Parliamentary Group.
        • Invited by the Parliamentary Union of Asia to their annual conference of october 1975, after Cambodia’s annexation and the invasion of South Vietnam, during Laos’ occupation** by the North Vietnamese Communists.
        • Council of the APU unanimously voted upon and agreed to a privileged motion, after six years of service, granting Mr. Chao Sopsaisana Southakakoumar an honorary life-long membership to the Parliamentary Union of Asia, which allowed him to continue participation in the successive annual conferences of the APU (October 8, 1975)
        • Managed several Laotian and French newspapers: “Youth Tribune, Liberated Laos, Echo of Liberty, Sieng-Seri (Voice of Liberty) and the Lao Hakxaxat (guardian of laotian patriotism).
        • High commissioner for Sports and Youth, he continued to handle the Youth movement and the Scouts.
        • President of the Youvasamakhom-Lao, he was elected a senator for the Asian Sector of the International Jaycees.
        • President of the Alliance Française for Laos;
        • President of the Rotary Club of Laos
        • Lawyer of the court, member of the Laotian Bar Association, often handling pro-bono cases

          PHOTO ABOVE: After the fall of Laos, my father stayed active in the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) now known as the WLFD. He is pictured on the left with Dr. Haing S. Ngor, the guest speaker and actor who played journalist Dith Pran in the 1984 film The Killing Fields. On the right he is pictured with John K. Singlaub, the former Commander in Chief of NATO forces and founding member of the CIA.  

          COMMENDATIONS

          • order of the king of laos (exceptional rank, in vermilion)
          • order of the million elephants and white parasol of laos (large-cross)
          • order of sahametrei of the kingdom of cambodia
          • royal order of sowathara of the kingdom of cambodia
          • royal order of the crown of thailand (exceptional rank)
          • national order of civic merit of the kingdom of laos (vermilion class, military rank)
          •  medal of the veterans of laos (commander)
          • Nation medal of public instruction of laos


          Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

          ... ... ...

          *

          1.  Being Confirmed
          2. My father was prone to editorializing, so phrases such as "brutal occupation" have been changed to "occupation"
            ]]>
            monirom
            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57368 2010-07-21T22:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z WHAT ARCHETYPICAL ASIAN ARE YOU?

            A bit of levity after my more serious posts. In the Asian community, this material has been circulating for years, though no one has stepped forward to claim credit. It is also widely accepted as a bit of Asian self-deprecating humor — so please, no lectures on how its not PC to say Oriental or Asian. I'm pretty sure the Asian community did not come up with the term Asian-American. Also, if you think I've become so assimilated into western culture that I no longer know the difference between parody and ridicule then, I'd say you're missing the point of this post. Relax.
            ... ... ...

            IMAGE CREDIT: Mini Ninjas by IO Interactive - Eidos Interactive (2009)
            SCROLL to the end of the post for the Companion Video and Dim Sum Girl Music Video (viewer reimagined)

            ... ... ...

            Young Asians in America come in many forms. Below are the major 'categories'. Most Asians fit into multiple categories. For example, Rice-boys can also be FOBs and many TABs are Fobulous. The only groups that are never part of another group are the Twinkies and the Asian-Americans. Claim your Fobbiness! When you see your Asian friend, greet them with "Wassup Fob!” And if your Asian friend says something ridiculous, say "Fob please!” Of course, when a non-Asian calls you a FOB, that is grounds for a fight. Regardless, the categories below are to be taken lightheartedly. READ. RECOGNIZE. LAUGH.

             

            TWINKIE

            • Besides your nationality, there is little to distinguish you from caucasians
            • Your significant other is not Asian and never has been
            • You have few Asian friends, if any
            • You are embarrassed at family events because you cannot speak your language
            • Everyone has to switch to English to communicate with you
            • You have no idea that the other types of Asians on this list even exist
            • You think Hello Kitty is dumb and do not know what Sanrio is
            • You are the only Asian on this list that does not know what Bubble Tea is
            • You drive a domestic car and if you drive a Honda, it is factory stock

             

             

            ASIAN-AMERICAN

            •  You claim yourself as Asian, but real Asians think you're whitewashed
            • Non-Asians see you as a foreigner. You don't really fit in anywhere.
            • You have heard of Bubble Tea but have never actually had any
            • You are confused about your cultural identity
            • You express this frustration through spoken word performances at your college
            • You read A. magazine and think it's great
            • You do not know who Edison, Jay Chou, Ayu, or G.O.D. are
            • You are only vaguely aware of the other Asians below

             

             

             (YAP) YOUNG ASIAN PROFESSIONAL

            • You are working in one of these professions:
              1. Medicine/Pharmaceutical
              2. Engineering
              3. Finance
              4. Investment Banking
              5. Accounting
            • Most of your wardrobe was purchased at Banana Republic
            • You go to "mixers" on Thursday nights to meet other Yaps and talk about the Dow
            • You did exactly what your parents wanted you to do
            • And as a result, your life is hella boring
            • Your condo/home is decorated almost exclusively with stuff from Pier 1 or West Elm
            • Your parents always talk to their friends about how much money you make — if they don't, then you're a disappointment

             

             

             FRESH OFF DA BOAT

            • You were not born in America
            • You know who Edison, Jay Chou, Ayu, or G.O.D. are.
            • In fact, you have seen them at Atlantic City or Las Vegas (recently)
            • You speak your native language fluently and so do all your friends
            • You do not have any non-Asian friends
            • Your parents do not speak any English
            • When you speak English, you like to make everything plural
            • You get extremely good grades in school
            • You cannot dance
            • Your fashion sense comes from whatever country you're from
            • You incorporate nothing from American fashion into your wardrobe

             

             

             SUPERFOBS

            • Your command of the English language is minimal and you don't care
            • You like dim sum chicken feet
            • You do not own a single CD, VCD, Video game, or DVD that isn't bootlegged
            • Your only hangout is Chinatown, Koreatown, or some other Asian-prefix town
            • All the lights in your house are fluorescent
            • You dry your clothes outside your window
            • You need a haircut
            • You either smell like cigarettes or food, or both

             

             

            FOBABEE

            • You are an Asian-American or Twinkie who has recently "awakened to your heritage"
            • You have a newly found fetish of Asian girls/boys
            • You have taken the Asian Studies course at college
            • You are trying to learn as much as possible about your culture
            • To make up for your lifetime of trying to be white or black
            • If you are lucky, you will grow to become Fobulous

             

             

            GANSTA FOB (Fobster)

            • You have shot another Asian
            • Your favorite hangout is a pool hall
            • When you talk, you sound like a cross between a Fob and an urban black kid
            • Your hair looks silly, but no one will tell you because you'll shoot them
            • You have a serious gambling problem
            • You are a Rice-boy, but your mods are cheap
            • And the mods are never painted to match the rest of your car
            • No one tells you your rice ride looks cheap because you'll shoot them
            • You want to have a Tab girlfriend, but can only get Hoochie Tabs

             

             

            TAB (Trendy Asian Bitch)

            • You shop at A/X, Bebe and Club Monaco
            • You only wear black and will occasionally wear white to "mix it up"
            • You do not weigh more than 105 lbs
            • You have never paid for dinner at a restaurant in your life
            • Platform heels are your favorite
            • You are a makeup expert, in fact, you appear completely flawless
            • You do not smile in public
            • You are the object of desire of all Asian men and you know it
            • You smoke
            • Your cell phone is completely customized
            • Somewhere in your purse is a Sanrio/Hello Kitty item
            • You only date Asian and will only date a boy with a nice car
            • You are often seen with Rice-boys
            • You never travel alone.
            • You are either in the company of other Tabs or your Rice-boy boyfriend

             

             

            HOOCHIE TAB

            • You are an import car model
            • Your breasts are not real
            • There are naked pictures of you floating around on the internet
            • Clear heels are your favorite
            • Your role models are Tila Nguyen and Kaila Yu
            • Your boyfriend is a Gangsta Fob
            • You cheat on your boyfriend
            • Unlike most Asians, you do not do well in school

             

             

             RICE-BOY

            • You drive an Asian import. Usually a Honda or Acura
            • Your tuner car (known as a Rice-rocket) is unrecognizable from original stock form
            • Your exhaust pipe is big enough for your head to fit in
            • The spoiler on your car looks like it was made by Boeing
            • The interior of your car also looks like it was designed by Boeing
            • You always drive like you are racing someone
            • You're not afraid of dying in a crash
            • But, you're afraid of speed bumps and parking lot on-ramps
            • No one besides yourself and your 105 lbs Tab girlfriend can sit in your car
            • If anyone else sits in your car, the entire bottom of it will touch the ground
            • Though your car is a Honda, it goes faster and is worth more than a Lotus Esprit

             

             

            FOBULOUS

            • You speak perfect English and you are fluent in your native language
            • You have Asian friends as well as non-Asian friends
            • You listen to Asian pop as well as American music
            • You are equally aware of both popular American culture and Asian pop culture
            • You are a good dancer
            • You date Asian by choice, though you could rock the opposite sex of any other race
            • You are a designer and have superior html skills (for that fly Posterous/Xanga page)
            • For you, FOB stands for Fabulous Oriental Being
            • You have lots of Asian pride

            ... ... ...

            ... ... ...

            ... ... ...

            ]]>
            monirom
            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57372 2010-07-19T06:45:00Z 2016-07-08T02:06:32Z 1997 DARK DAYS for MACADVOCATES

            There was a time when things were not so happy at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. The stock price was down, Apple was taking a beating in the press and WIRED's June 1997 cover story told the Mac faithful to PRAY. Wired published an article titled 101 Ways to Save Apple.

            During this time, before the imac, the G3 and the Think Different* ad campaigns — all MacAdvocates had was the 1997 Apple MacAdvocate CD-ROM. Chock full of "factsheets, product demos, technology demos, system updates and all the tools we'd need to evangelize Macintosh, Newton and all other Apple products." Amid all the rumors it was one weapon we had to keep minds focused and off our beloved Macs — which we'd only part with when they "pried it from our cold dead hands." (apologies to Charlton Heston)
            ... ... ...
            * A single 8 minute compilation of the newer, more aggresive ad campaigns that ran upon the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, including the Think Different spot, can be seen at the end of this post. Also it is not possible to show all the multimedia content from this disc in a single post without it becoming obnoxious but, you can find the bulk of them uploaded to my youtube playlist.

            IMAGE CREDITs: The photo illustration is a collage/phototreatment. The background image is a treatment of an istock photo and the illustration of the Apple logo, in barbed wire, is from the award winning June 1997 cover of Wired Magazine.
            ... ... ...

            I found the disc while I was purging a backlog of old Apple software. Though the disc itself will not auto-run today, because the Macintosh no longer supports the "classic" environment, most of the multimedia is still intact. Join me in a nostalgic review of the disc contents.

            ... ... ...
            INTRO FROM GUY KAWASAKI

            ... ... ...
            MERGER DETAILS

            ... ... ...
            DISC CONTENTS

            ... ... ...
            BILL GATES ENDORSEMENT

            ... ... ...
            "TEACHER" SPOTs

            ... ... ...
            "CELEBRITY" SPOTs

            ... ... ...
            "INTERNET/BUSINESS TESTIMONIALS" SPOTs

            ... ... ...
            "EASE OF USE" SPOTs

            ... ... ...
             THE NEW ADs THAT RAN DURING THE RETURN OF STEVE JOBs TO APPLE

            ... ... ...

            ]]>
            monirom
            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57374 2010-07-18T06:35:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z TWO WEEKs of MY MOTHER ON TWITTER v1.O

            My mother came to visit a few weeks ago. This was a bit awkward because we had never been given a chance to build a bond when I was growing up. The last time we spent a significant amount of time with each other, excluding short vacations, I was nine. Regardless she still dotes on me and loves me unconditionally. Of course, she still thinks I'm nine years old. During the visit I documented our time together, on Twitter and Facebook, which turned out to be very humorous — for my friends. If you missed it here's a recap. Keep in mind that at 77 years old, she is at the age where she doesn't do anything she doesn't want to and really doesn't care what anyone thinks about her or her behavior. It must be very liberating.

            ... ... ...

            I'm pretty sure today is Fathers Day. Which explains why my Mom is driving me crazy.
            Sun Jun 20 19:02:43 2010 via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Not all men who drink are poets. Some of us drink because we are not poets. (or because our mother is visiting)
            Sun Jun 20 19:18:20 2010 via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            My mom just dropped by with only 20 minutes notice. Berated me about all the beer (left over from last weeks crab feast) in my fridge, told me that I was getting too fat and then proceeded to ask me what I wanted her to cook when she comes back on Wednesday — with luggage in tow. She will eventually watch me eat. Then insist I have seconds.
            June 20 at 8:47pm via facebook 
            ... ... ...

            What does an Asian mother bring to an overnight visit? 1 toiletry bag, 1 rolling suitcase, her meds AND; 2lbs each of pork, beef, turkey, 5lbs of raw papaya (shredded), 8 packages of rice noodles, 3lbs of uncooked rice, bamboo shoots, ginger, coconut milk, fish sauce, sea salt, mushrooms, shrimp and a host of green leafy vegetables.
            June 23 at 11:25pm via facebook
            ... ... ...

            Fighting the urge to grab a burger since it will infringe on the god-given right of the visiting mother to cook for her son.
            June 24 at 12:14pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Did I mention I'm feeling out of place because I can't speak my native language? Such shame.
            June 24 at 3:30pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Oh look MSG in 5 kilo bags. Need to stock up!
            June 24 at 3:31pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ... 

            Did I mention 51 varieties of ramen and 30+ kinds of fish sauce? I stopped counting.
            June 24 at 3:44pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            244,550. The number of journal pages my dad was purported to have filled in his lifetime. I think my Mom needs a new calculator.
            June 24 at 5:18pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            When your spry 72 yr old mom (my bros. and I were a surprise) says she can hack it walking in DC heat — you should drive. (especially when you find out she's really 77)
            June 25 at 1:26pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            At 72 yrs old my Mom has no filter and says what she thinks,"Enhanced." "Boobs that big can't exist on a body that small."
            June 25 at 1:34pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            2nd to Last MOM post of the day. I give the counter woman that "We're not related" look when she questions her about why it costs $22 to hem a pair of khakis. She's not even inquiring for me, she's asking so the guy in front of me won't get ripped off. That guy gives me the Bill Clinton "I feel your pain look."
            June 25 at 2:59pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            I get my turn at role reversal. I tell my Mom, "If you don't know what you're looking for close the damn fridge we're not cooling the entire neighborhood."
            June 25 at 3:00pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Being forced to watch a Thai soap opera. Regardless of language its all the same; secret babies, cheating spouses and lots of bitch slaps.
            June 25 at 8:04pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Just been told my last name, already 14 letters long, is missing an N at the end. Apparently they had form-field issues in 70s INS apps.
            June 28 at 11:02am via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Week 2 of the Mother visit. She returns my iphone telling me its broken. (uh Mom you have to charge the phone overnight).
            June 28 at 1:30pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Saying "excuse us" to strangers at the grocery store because my mother refuses to move the cart to one side or the other. What is holding her up is if we should buy 2 or 3 cucumbers. Only reason we are buying cucumbers? She thinks the lettuce is too expensive.
            June 28 at 7:17pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            Showed my mother how Twitter and Facebook work. Now everytime I pick up the iphone she gives me the evil eye.
            June 29 at 6:03pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Just realized my mothers partial deafness is in whatever ear that is facing me at the time.
            June 29 at 6:11pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Opened up the dishwasher to find out my loving mother emptied it while I was away. Then I noticed she rearranged tthe cupboards. She said it's just a tweak. She also REFOLDED my laundry. She is so lucky she cooked dinner too.
            June 29 at 7:32pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            Tried to explain the appeal of the XBOX360 to my 72 year old Mom using Call Of Duty. Her response, "This makes no sense to me. Why do you have kill everyone?"
            June 29 at 8:48pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            My Mom: "Why are we in washington? I've seen all this before."
            June 30 at 12:22pm via Facebook

            ... ... ...

            Graphic Tee shopping for my nephews with Mom. She hates everything I show her. I tell that's exactly why my nephews will love 'em.
            June 30 at 3:48pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            Mom: Everything in the USA is so expensive says my mom re: the euro/dollar exchange rate. Then we walk by Williams Sonoma and all is forgotten.
            June 30 at 4:34pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            My mother disapproves of my choice of ride. So impractical. She enjoys herself none the less. Here we're visiting her "other" son.
            June 30 at 6:31pm via Facebook

            ... ... ...

            Asian mothers are like Jewish mothers, always trying to introduce you to your future wife.
            July 1 at 6:23pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            I'm convinced that my mother has changed her time-table from "please get married in my lifetime" to "please do so before my flight takes off."
            July 1 at 6:25pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            We've put in excess of 200mi on the car, visited my future wife, where she works and the Chocolate factory, had lunch at RAKU, visited my cousins in North Bethesda (for dinner), caught fireflies, eaten too much, drank too much and now — at almost midnight, my Mom believes the perfect ending to such a long day is to cook up a batch of soup — from scratch. Oy.
            July 1 at 11:55pm via facebook
            ... ... ...

            My Mom asks me to confirm her flight online. Done. She asks me to check her in online. We need to wait until 5pm (24hrs) She asks me to confirm her reservation. We try for almost an hour — no success. Only after wards does she tell me that maybe we can't sign in online because on her SFR instructions it specifically say...s she can only check in: IN PERSON.
            July 2 at 10:21am via facebook
            ... ... ...

            People get into fights w/ their loved ones before they leave to make the separation easier to bear. My Mom cooks. Constantly. Since 6 am.
            July 2 at 10:42am via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            My Mom she believes the longer-than-usual shower she took this morning caused the water main break.
            July 2 at 3:24pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            My mom asks me if I know the name of the young guy who plays basketball for that team who got a really good salary signed right out of college. My response: uh, no. Mom could you be more specific? My Mom's response: "He's Black."
            July 2 at 3:53pm via facebook
            ... ... ...

            Last night my mother ate all the cookies in my pantry that were about to "expire."
            July 2 at 4:15pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Just found out my Mom is 77 not 72. She said she never corrected me all these years because she liked how it sounded. Now I apparently owe her five belated birthday presents.
            July 2 at 5:16pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            Guess who just relieved the restaurant of all of it's sugar packets, napkins and any condiments not nailed down? Hint: she gave birth to me. - Going to need to leave a very big tip.
            July 2 at 8:22pm via Facebook
            ... ... ...

            1/3 United employee assumes my quinlingual mother is an idiot since her English has a lilt. Shoos her away from checkin kiosk. #unitedFail
            July 3 at 2:50pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            2/3 Undaunted my 77yr old mother waits in the checking line - desk attendant tells her next time she should use the kiosk #unitedFail
            July 3 at 2:52pm via TweetDeck
            ... ... ...

            3/3 Learning of previous slight, new attendant apologizes, offers 2 assist in a choice of language. My mom continues conversation in FRENCH.
            July 3 at 2:57pm via TweetDeck

            ... ... ...
            Prior to boarding her return flight to France, my mother says good by to her/my Facebook friends — in French.

            ... ... ...

             

            ]]>
            monirom
            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57377 2010-07-16T12:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z YOU SPEAK ENGLISH VERY WELL for AN ILLEGAL ALIEN

            "You speak english very well for an illegal alien." That is not exactly what people said when I first emigrated to the United States but, thats what I heard. First of all I wasn't an illegal alien. I had emigrated to the US through the generosity of catholic priests who knew my father and offered to sponsor me. That's how I ended up with an open ended visa, a green card and eventually US citizenship.

            It was surprising to me that in an internationally sensitive city like Washington, D.C. circa 1975-76 people were still amazed that a young laotian boy could speak english without an accent. Then again, they didn't know my assimilation to the American way of life and my ability to speak english started at the American School of Vientiane, Laos.
            ... ... ...
            IMAGE CREDITS: The image treatment is based on a photo illustration from blink.net.

            ... ... ...

            "I used you kill fuckers like you in Vietnam,"muttered my neighbor at the urinal. I'm not sure the affect he expected his words to have on me — since it was not possible for me to stop mid-stream and engage in fisticuffs. I had already started to tune out his diatribe. I don't think he realized that during the Vietnam War I was in elementary school. I don't think he knew that my father was a hardline anti-communist and essentially military commander of the CIA controlled Laotian Hmong army. This part is debatable since many thought General Vang Pao was the defacto leader. Our family had supported American forces, not opposed them. While washing my hands in the sink, I looked over at him and said, "I'm sorry you still bear scars from the conflict." I have no idea if what I said was true. I'm not even sure why I said it. I don't know if it was my perfect english or what I said but he shut up — never breaking eye contact with me all the while. I exited the restroom and joined my fraternity brothers who were already digging into their dinner. (during my college years, 1985, Regency Mall, Richmond, VA)

            The American School in Vientiane (ASV), Laos was an oasis of calm far away from the Vietnam war. The school had a eclectic mix of military brats, expats and the children of distinguished locals. Except for the fact that ASV encompassed kindergarten and grades one through twelve, it could have been mistaken for any typical American school.

            We had athletic fields and corresponding athletic teams (except for football), cheerleaders, swimming pools, extra-curricular activities, the requisite clubs, dances and senior trips. In other words, your typical American school. If you took a page out of the Cobra's Tale yearbook (our mascot was a cobra) and compared it to any Southern California high school yearbook from the 1970s you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. I experienced none of the aforementioned because during this time I was in grade school. Though all the grades existed on a single campus, it was rare that the kids in high school ever set foot into the elementary courtyards and vice-versa.

            I ended up at ASV because my Dad had tricked me into doing so. As my Dad tells the story, he had gotten a very tersely worded warning from the French Academy I was attending. The gist of the note said if I could not stay awake in class during the afternoons I would flunk out and readmission would be out of the question. It didn't help that they considered me a blithering idiot because I could never pay attention.

            My Dad, concerned that his son would end up banned from formal education, asked me what the problem was. Specifically he said, "What's your problem?" I replied, "Dad its too hot." if you've ever lived or visited Laos you know it get to upwards of 35 degrees celsius (95 Fahrenheit) with 75% humidity during the school year. Its a tropical heat so you're always sweating. The French schools were unbearable and they had no air-conditioning. I was used to putting my head down on my desk and passing out. Thats how the teachers described it. I called it taking a nap.

            Truth be told, when I was young, I hated school. Years later when I was tested in the US they surmised it was because I was bored — due to the fact that I was a hyperactive child who read three grade levels higher than his peers. I was considered hyperactive because the term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) had yet to be coined or recognized as a condition. It didn't help that I was first introduced to processed sugar and foods at ASV. But, I digress.

            My father gathered his wits and smiled broadly, "Are you telling me that if I put you in a school that has air-conditioning you'll not only stay awake but, you'll also succeed and excel in your studies?" I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Yes." My father had called my bluff, just one week later I was waiting on the front curb in front of our house waiting to be picked up for my first day at the American School in Vientiane.

            Once at ASV I absorbed the language easily. I already spoke english but, it was formal and stilted. I didn't have the right cadence, emphasized the wrong syllables and often used the wrong words or the right words in the wrong context. English sentence structure is different from french and especially Lao. I also had no grasp of idioms, slang or American pop-culture. All that was about to change.

            Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

            ... ... ...

            My intro to processed foods, experiences at ASV and negotiating the school bus system: fodder for future posts!

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            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57379 2010-07-13T17:48:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z SAMURAI. KNIGHTs. + COWBOYs.

            Samurai, Knights and Cowboys have always been a Hollywood staple primarily because they are archetypes. For me they were role models, even if they were absentee role models — like my Dad. I was here in the States studying english at a young age and the cold, dark Atlantic served as a chasm between father and son. My parents always provided for me and plane tickets were sent often, they just never made it into my possession. The reason why and how this affected me and my older brother is fodder for a future post. 
            ... ... ...

            Having to fend for myself at an early age, without a strong male role model on this side of the Atlantic, I naturally found one elsewhere. I wasn't attracted to politicians, movie stars or professional athletes. I was instead attracted to archetypes, to heroes of yesteryear. The heroes who fought for right, for those too weak to defend themselves and did so even if it meant the loss of personal life. Coincidentally, figures who most closely adhered to this moral code happened to be Samurai. Knights.+ Cowboys. (I'm sorry Mrs. Wright - my 8th grade english teacher- They allow us to punctuate single words. when. you. work. in. advertising/design.)

            I did know that these rules of conduct existed outside of faith, organized religion and the norm of societies that did not look after their fellow man. I read voraciously about the archetypes taking in all the details of bushido, chivalry and the exploits of the old west.

            To say I embodied the moral code of all these archetypes early in my life would be laughable. It wasn't until Page, a long-time college friend, mentioned that I had slipped into a vortex of self-centered interest that it registered in my conscience. In other-words, I had turned into an asshole. In many ways she was right, in my twenties I was not the best friend I could be and most of my focus centered around my career. To be truthful, the turn around did not start on that exact day but, the seeds were planted. Eventually, when I can sit down with Page and have a serious conversation, I'll be sure to remind her and say thank-you for the heads-up. Until then, I work at it everyday.

            Though the "codes of the warrior" that governed the archetypes were disparate and often not uniform they did share these basic common elements; mercy, courage and loyalty.

            THE ARCHETYPES

            BUSHIDO (Samurai)

            Bushidō (武士道?), meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a name in common usage since the late 19th century which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct adhered to by samurai since time immemorial, and loosely analogous to Western concepts of chivalry. This code is said to have emphasized virtues such as loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, filial piety, and self-sacrifice. Although Chinese-derived Confucian concepts such as loyalty and filial piety were certainly extolled in Japanese texts from the medieval period, the actual term bushidō is extremely rare in ancient texts, and does not even appear in famous texts supposedly describing this code, such as the Hagakure of Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Moreover, although at various points in Japanese history certain feudal lords promulgated prescriptive "House Codes" to guide the actions of their retainers, there never existed a single, unified "samurai code" which all Japanese warriors adhered to or were even aware of.
            ~wikipedia as of 07.13.2010

            the seven virtues of Bushido: Rectitude (義, gi ) • Courage (勇, yu ) • Benevolence (仁, jin ) • Respect (礼, rei ) • Honesty (誠 or 真, makoto or shin ) • Honor (誉, meiyo ) • Loyalty (忠, chugi ) related virtues: Filial piety (孝, kō ) • Wisdom (智, chi) • Care for the aged (悌, tei)

            Help viewing japanese character sets


            CHIVALRY
            (Knights)

            “Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and courtly love. The word is derived from the French word "chevalerie", itself derived from "chevalier", which means knight, derived from "cheval", horse (indicating one who rides a horse). Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are often used to describe courteous behavior, especially that of men towards women. Between the 11th century and 16th centuries Medieval writers often used the word chivalry, but its definition was never consistent between authors, and its meaning would change on a basis that determines where you are, and even over time. Further, its modern meanings are different from its medieval meanings. Thus, the exact meaning of chivalry changes depending on the writer, the time period, and the region, so a comprehensive definition of the term is elusive."
            ~wikipedia as of 07.13.2010 


            CODE of the WEST
            (Cowboys)

            "First chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey, in his 1934 novel The Code of the West, no "written" code ever actually existed. However, the hardy pioneers who lived in the west were bound by these unwritten rules that centered on hospitality, fair play, loyalty, and respect for the land. Ramon Adams, a Western historian, explained it best in his 1969 book, The Cowman and His Code of Ethics, saying, in part: "Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the "Code of the West." These homespun laws, being merely a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct for survival, were never written into statutes, but were respected everywhere on the range."
            ~the full post @ Legends of America, Code of the West

             

            Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]


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            tag:monirom.posthaven.com,2013:Post/57380 2010-07-10T00:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:33:52Z OPINION: MAUREEN DOWD's A GIRL’s GUIDE to SAUDIA ARABIA

            I've always been an avid reader, even at an early age. I devoured anything I could get my hands on written in english — a big deal for a child for whom english was not a native tongue. I even read content in which I had no interest or was too old for my age group. (I consistently read three levels higher than my grade level) To this day I have more books than I have bookshelves.

            I remember walking the streets of Paris with my father (after we emigrated from Laos) and watching in awe as he bargained with a book store clerk. He was trying to get the clerk to sell him a copy of a Tintin graphic novel divorced from it's english language learning tape. Why pay for the entire set when his boy could already read, write and speak english he logically surmised. A great author's words married with my boundless imagination is what eventually landed me in the communication arts & design program at VCU.

            If you haven't noticed, I write and think in non sequiturs — though if you stick with me long enough it will all make sense. Which brings me to Maureen Dowd's article A Girls Guide to Saudi Arabia in the August 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. I may not always agree with what she writes but, that doesn't marginalize my appreciation of her work, which is often distinguished by an acerbic, often polemical writing style. I lifted that last line in honor of her 2009 controversy. 

             ... ... ...
            In an obvious attempt to get you off your butt and to the newsstand, Vanity Fair has not made this article available online. They have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay too, you know. If you do manage to track down a copy of the August 2010 issue, the one with Angelina Jolie on the cover, I promise you it is a very good read.  

            Photo treatments are based on photographs by Ashley Parker.
            ... ... ...

            Back to the article in question. It is long-form narrative. Old school. Well worth reading even by the ADD-addled brains of the internet generation — of which I am a member. The article follows Dowd's travels in a new Saudi Arabia, one just now reopening it's gates to the prospect of tourism.

            In Dowd's own words,

            "Saudi Arabia! Just the vacation spot for a headstrong, adventure-loving, cocktail-imbibing, fashion-conscious chick. Long averse to non-Muslim curiosity seekers, the Kingdom is now flirting with tourism, though drinking is forbidden and women can't drive — or do much of anything — without a man. Armed with moxie and a Burquini, MAUREEN DOWD confronts the limits of Saudi Arabian hospitality, as well as various male enforcers, learning that, as always, it matters whom you know."

            Still not enough to pique your curiosity? Then you should know that the article itself has already garnered a lot of discussion, albeit much in the form of criticism, on the VF daily blog. Vanity Fair's own slideshow of Dowd's "vacation" snapshots further fuel the fire.

            Photo treatments are based on photographs by Ashley Parker.

            My point here is not about the content of the article, but rather the way it is written. Journalism, in any form, is story-telling. The ultimate intention of any story-teller is to get a reaction from the audience. When you are able to do so and the conversation extends beyond the life of the story, then you've made an impact. I leave you with another short excerpt from the Vanity Fair article.

            "Today Saudi Arabia is trying to take a few more steps ahead — starting with a coed university, letting women sell lingerie to women, even toning down public beheadings. If you're living on Saudi time, akin to a snail on Ambien, the popular 86-year-old King Abdullah is making bold advances. To the rest of the world, the changes are almost imperceptible."

            With writing like this how could your mind not fill up with dramatic images? I'm storyboarding my own personal movie right now. I'm sorry I can't invite you to the screening — it's playing in my head.

            ... ... ...

            Photograph by Gasper Tringale

            OTHER MAUREEN DOWD ITEMS of INTEREST:

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