random musings of an unsound mind.

"The sarcasms and invectives of the young polemic." - Lord Macaulay.

(note that no warranty is provided re: the contents. do not remove this tag. see specially-marked boxes for details.)

april 12, 2004

Transferred all of my random musings to a blog on xanga...

...get at it here!

 

march 25, 2004

A wise paraphrase from a good friend:

Me:  "What do you do when someone screws you over?"

T:  "Learn from your mistakes, keep moving forward, and don’t look back.  It’s all you can really do.”

Thanks, bud.

 

march 16, 2004

http://www.aceblog.org/000009.html

And I quote:  "I don't get this whole 'RAGE' concept that's created by asian guys. The author of this article seems more bitter than Terry Woo, if that is even humanly possible."

Wow kidz... apparently I'm now the gold standard unit of measurement for Asian male bitterness - sort of like the use of “Scoville’s” for measuring the hotness of chili peppers…

“Dude!  Bitter!  That comment rates 10,000 Ter’s!  Spi-ceh!”

Is that fame or what? ;)

 

march 11, 2004

Introducing... the Asian Tom Cruise, Captain Terry Wong...

He was a keynote speaker at Generasians 2004 - a totally inspiring dude who seems to've done it all (flown CF-18's, helicopters, rock climbing, traveling, even ballroom dancing... and he's going into space next year as part of the Canadian Arrow project.)

And to top it all off, he's quite a nice person.  Hats off to an Asian Canadian icon!

 

november 24, 2003

(Thanks to Sean Yang for the picture...)

 

november 12, 2003

After five freaking months of writer's block - no picnic, lemme assure you - I'm back on the saddle and writing like mad.  Five chapters of the first draft of the New OneTM more or less done... here's a small sample...

“They’re fucking sties,” complained Dale yesterday.  “They’ve made Operations cut back on cleaning staff to be fiscally responsible – and making up for it by being hygienically irresponsible.”

“Yeah.  Um, I’ve been thinking about using the women’s washroom sometimes… that okay?”  Women’s washrooms are cleaner in all software companies because there are hardly any women in software companies. 

“Oh?”

“Women are cleaner in general.”

“Go nuts, Rye.”

 

august 25, 2003

A little while ago, I ran into two incidents involving Native Americans (a.k.a. “Indians” - specifically,  those drunken, racist, loutish individuals that live in a little parkette down the street by Varsity Stadium.)   In these incidents, they targeted myself or someone else with anti-Asian, racist comments:

1.      Drunken native walks up to me, breath stinking of alcohol:  “Yo, China!  Yeah, Chinaman – go back to where you came from!”

2.      Drunken native comes in with no shirt into the Second Cup where I happen to be reading a paper, and bellows to the Asian counter-guy – “Yo, Jackie Chan!  I need a coffee!”

Now, far be it for me to dispute the sad, sad history of Natives in North America (not that me or most other Asians around here had anything personally to do with this, of course… most of our ilk were about a thousand miles away... or too busy with white-eyes' laundry or cooking or shit.)  

But, for some reason, it pissed me off.  Sensitive me, eh?

It could be as simple as reciprocity:  If I were to, say, go up to these wasted hulks and make any racist comments about Natives, I’d be run out of town on a rail (and indeed, as a lifelong combatant in the arena of ethnicity, I’d probably rail myself for the sake of consistency.)  But these guys – admittedly not the brightest specimens in the world – can fucking spew out racist shit against Asians – likely as a physical manifestation of their own anger at their own lot in life, a “bad day,” as it were… and there ain’t nothing no one can say, because it’d be anti-Native racism, which is wrong, wrong, wrong.  

In fact, it seemed to be a relatively common thread among minorities in North America.  Seems like a lot other of “oh-pressed minorities” – be they native, black, Jewish, Latino, Québecois – scream high murder for racism committed against their respective groups, but have absolutely no problem being hypocritical and targeting other minorities like Asians with ignorant comments like “Chinaman” or “Jackie Chan” or "Go back to where you came from" (in my case, Hamilton, Ontario - maybe I should've screamed "Go back over the Bering Strait to Central Asia where YOU came from, you drunken ass.")

Well.  Probably because they think 1) "Oh my god!  I've been discriminated against, so I therefore cannot discriminate!  I am righteous noble people!  Bow down infidel - you OWE me!  and... 2) That we (Asians) are so weak and timid and unassuming that we’d just scurry away and play Nintendo or something.

Just how fucked up is that?

The next time I run into a racist incident, I won't fucking concern myself with the backstory.  We all have backstories - we all have our crosses to bear.  I'm just gonna kick the offender in the nuts.  And if the offender is female, I'll do what I can.  Suggestions are welcome.

august 2, 2003

Of Faith and Politics – a Rebuttal.

Truth be told, the issue of same-sex marriages did not interest me until very recently… my position on it last year would be luke-warm to medium support of it at best.  As a straight guy who detests left- or right-wing activism of any sort (yeah, I had to mention that, right?  I like women!  I like women!!!), I’d gather that I’d agree with it, based on the principles of tolerance and basic human justice, but would likely stop cold at expending actual energy actively supporting this view. 

Until now, that is.  Not only because I feel the position of the Catholic Church is an affront to the modern, tolerant, pluralistic liberal democracy I know and love, but also because of an overwhelmingly bad experience with Catholic dogma last year (I won’t go into any details; suffice it to say that this one individual encapsulated everything that was wrong about Catholic dogma, and it’s effect on my most cherished principles:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.) 

That being said, a Calgarian bishop by the name of Fred Henry first threatened our beloved PM (who, coincidentally, I do not like – retire now, you idiot) with hellfire and brimstone, stating, and I quote:  He’s putting at risk his eternal salvation.  I pray for the Prime Minister because I think his eternal salvation is in jeopardy.  He is making a morally grave error and he’s not being accountable to God.” [caps his.]

I find it disgusting that someone with so-called "higher spiritual authority" would apply such explicit pressure on a duly-elected public official using threats based on a persons most fundamental beliefs of god, faith, and this crazy thing we call “salvation” (I also find it ludicrous and dated to use something a fictional character as a threat – why not the booger-man or the Loch Ness monster or Freddy from “Nightmare on Elm Street?”)  Well, at least in this day and age:  the Spanish Inquisition was over a long time ago. 

The PMO correctly replied that the PM’s primary responsibility is to serve the Canadian public, and not his church – correct, because his citizens and constituents span the spectrum of religious, political, and social beliefs, who all need to be represented.  

But Bishop Henry wouldn’t let it go:  he submitted an article titled “On Faith and Politics” in order to, apparently, justify his speaking out.  You can read the full article here:

http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030802/COBISHOP//?query=fred+henry

Bishop Henry is, of course, entitled to his opinion – we all are in our liberal democracy, are we not? – but threats of hellfire and brimstone against a public official is crossing the line.  Petition if you want; go through regular legal and political channels.  But to use so-called “higher spiritual authority?”  It’s as ridiculous as it is egregious, and it’s the reason I dislike and distrust any organized religion… history has shown that so-called “higher spiritual authority” has regularly been corrupted by religious institutions and used for material (not to mention sexual) crimes (lest we forget the rapes of hundreds of altar boys, not to mention September 11th.)

What follows is a refutation of  a number of the points he lays out in support of his so-called argument (his quotes in bold.)  I’m sure most people will see how incredibly disingenuous his arguments really are – he’s doing what any dogmatic activist does – presents ideas and fallacies that support his cause, while ignoring facts and history that does not.  This, in the end, will be the downfall of their position.  

“It is disingenuous to ask religious believers not to base their contribution to society and political life -- through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy -- on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good. The mantra of 'separation of church and state' in our Canadian context is simply a crass secularist attempt to discount and marginalize persons with religious faith.”

I agree with the first bit – we all apply our own personal morals for day to day operation in this temporal world.  How can we not? 

But by dismissing “separation of church and state” as something to marginalize persons with religious faith is disingenuous, and ignores the history of his very own church.  Separation goes to the very heart of democracy and justice.

Since the early days of the Catholic Church, when it was not separated from state, there have been numerous instances of corruption and manipulation on the part of the Church… indeed, the most famous one being “salvation to build a cathedral” – priests would give absolution in exchange for cash to build the some cathedral in Rome.  This, as well as other corruption, directly resulted in Martin Luther’s nailing his proclamation decrying Catholic Church corruption – the Ninety-Five Theses - on that church door in Wittenburg in 1518.

And then… the Spanish Inquisition.  Need I go into detail at what horrors the Catholic Church committed here in the name of pure power and ideological politics?  Untold thousands of people lost possessions, land, and their own lives...all to preserve the "moral authority" or the Church, a thin excuse for what was essentially a Stalinist / Maoist-styled purge.

Later, some British king wanted a divorce and the Catholic Church wouldn’t let him.  That’s when Protestantism kicked in – not specifically a Catholic “separation of church and state” issue, but a prime example where power was abused to create a whole new state religion by the whims of the elite.  (Sir Thomas More of A Man for All Seasons fame was subsequently executed / murdered for opposing this – that wouldn’t of happened with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms…)

All these cases led directly to the struggle, development, and establishment of separation of church and state – a fundamental democratic principle, whose purpose is to ensure the functional and just governance of the people, by the people, for the people, without interference or corruption from above (the Church or…even higher, if you believe in that sort of thing.)  Indeed, the concept of separation of church and state was the reason the first immigrants - the pilgrims - came on over in the first place, and I'll warrant it's the reasons immigrants still come to Canada.  The Church has not respected that at many points throughout history, and is not respecting that now.

(And about being crass - geez!  If threatening someone will eternal damnation isn't crass, what in tarnation is?)

“If we look to the Bible, we see that much of the Old Testament is filled with the writings of the prophets, almost all of whom spoke out against the governments of their day.”  

I’d like to point out that the Old Testament is also filled with instances of a remarkably vengeful god; animal sacrifices, killing the firstborn of your enemies, striking down not only the sinner (say, who stole some gold), but his immediate and extended family as well.  Not the type of values, I would say, applicable in a modern, tolerant pluralistic society, and I’m sure Bishop Henry knows this, and is just being disingenuous about it. 

In any case, who would god strike down first; a loving same-sex couple in a marriage?  Or a gaggle of priests who molest altar boys?  How about the Church officials who covered all those incidents up, shifting the offending pedophile priest to another unsuspecting parish where he can defile yet another set of young boys?  How will the entire institution be judged?  I don’t even believe in god, and I still know the answer to that one.

(Perhaps it'd be best for all parties to not bring in the Old Testament...it was one weird time of questionable historic veracity, with minimal relevance to modern times.)  

“As a bishop, it is somewhat consoling to see that the prophets never preach a water-downed justice, and only rarely a gentle justice. For them, justice is passionate, tempestuous, hotheaded, and most of all, immediately necessary.”

Just like opposition to your dogma will also be, and thank god for that, at least...  

“The whole concept of separation of church and state is relatively recent, dating back to the constitution of the state of Virginia, written by Thomas Jefferson, and the slightly later First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .’”

Technically correct, but again, disingenuous.  The struggle between Church and State – for the fair and just governance of a people – dates back much, much further than this.  (See the bits above re: Lutheranism, the Spanish Inquisition, etc.)  You don’t struggle for hundreds of years against a something (“Church with State - Nuts and Gum - together at last!”) if there isn’t something fundamentally wrong with it; that is, governance that was not fair and just, very corrupt, and certainly not democratic.  

Indeed, even the establishment of the separation as a fair and just principle for governance has been circumvented by the Church in many instances.  For example, Quebec government, up until the mid-20th Century, was strongly influenced by the Church, if not outright controlled by it… resulting, as many Quebecois will note, in the stagnation of their culture in comparison with the rest of North America until the Quiet Revolution.  (Indeed, some sociologists have theorized that the reason why Quebec is currently very secular and - coincidentally - 65% in support of same-sex marriages, the highest in all of Canada, is because of backlash from years of virtual theocratic rule in la belle province.)

Let’s mention the scandals surrounding the Church that has only recently come to light:  genocide committed against aboriginals in schools, complete with abuse and sexual molestation.  In fact, the entire sordid affair of priests molesting children, parishioners, and nuns and the Church covering it up and not bringing the rapists to justice is not only (to put it mildly) “circumventing the law,” but it’s also against what Christianity supposedly stands for... not to mention basic decency and human justice.  So nice of Bishop Henry to enforce morality on us when there’s so much to clean up in his own backyard, don’t you think?

“Canada does not have an equivalent governing statement, either in the British North America Act, or in the Constitution Act of 1982.”

Indeed.  I suggest that the Government of Canada immediately legislate separation of church and state – as I mentioned, a central precept to good governance in a modern, tolerant, pluralistic society – to prevent further confusion on the matter.  And I suggest the first order of business is stripping all public funding from the Catholic separate school system… I resent my tax dollars going towards indoctrinating children with Bishop Henry’s disingenuous and intolerant nonsense.  (I know Catholic school funding is actually protected by the Charter, but whatever - see below...)

“What Canada does guarantee every one of its citizens is "freedom of religion." Article 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) Freedom of religion and conscience. . ." There is no statement of "separation of church and state." In Canada, freedom of religion means that the numerous churches and religious bodies of our country are free to speak about what our governments do or fail to do.”

Gotcha Bishop Henry!  How can you on one hand use the Charter to defend your right to express an opinion, while refuting a legal court decision (in this case, same-sex marriage) based on the same Charter?  You can’t have it go both ways; the Charter is the law of the land.  Same-Sex Marriage is now constitutional.  Bleat about it all you want, but if you do, you immediately validate the judgment and the authority of the Charter based on your own arguments.  

Oh riiiiight... you have "moral authority" compared to the Charter and its protection of us unwashed heathen.  Man, hypocrisy here is really stunning.     

How about another twist:  funding of the separate Catholic school system is actually protected (although not guaranteed) by the Charter!  So we have a case here where a fundamental tenet of Church authority (i.e. educating the children of "the faithful" with our Charter and our largely secular tax dollars) is supported, while denouncing same-sex marriage, now determined to be constitutional by that same Charter.  How is it that one discriminatory practice is expediently ignored by the Church, yet another one - like opposition to same-sex marriage - is espoused, even though both are protected by the same Charter?

How about another case?  In April of last year, the a Durham Catholic school and its parent school board tried to deny Marc Hall, a gay student, from attending the prom.  The Catholic school board stated the following:

"The Church does not condemn an individual for his or her sexual orientation. However, the behaviours associated with a homosexual lifestyle are not consistent with Church teaching and our values as a Catholic school system."

and...

"Ontario is constitutionally required to publicly fund Catholic schools. The board has said it is constitutionally entitled to administer its schools in a manner that is consistent with the teachers of the Church."

How is it that one discriminatory practice is expediently supported by the Church in the name of the Charter, yet another one - like opposition to same-sex marriage - is still practiced and encouraged, even though it has been deemed unconstitutional by the very same Charter?

Oh riiiiight - "higher spiritual authority."  The foibles of politics never cease to amaze me... just as often as it disgusts me. 

“Political freedom is not based upon the relativistic idea that all conceptions of the human person have the same value and truth, but rather, on the fact that political decisions are concerned with concrete realizations of the true human and social good in a given historical, and cultural context.”  

Absolutely incorrect.  That is Bishop Henry’s interpretation.  In a tolerant, modern, pluralistic society, all conceptions of human persons do have the same value and truth.  All are equal in the eyes of the law.  We are not American, but the American revolution set a standard for liberal democracy:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – that cannot be ignored.  Indeed, these principles have in fact been codified in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Once again, it’s the law of the land.

“True human and social good” is arbitrary, and the Catholic Church’s perception of such only holds for those who choose to believe in it.  “In a given historical and cultural context” is a (rather sinister) code:  “this is the way it was, and the way it should be.”  This, of course, is fallacious reasoning… Canadian society and its values and “truths” will change as its citizens and their values change.  Otherwise, we’d still be killing a man and his extended family for stealing some gold… not to mention continuing to allow various priests “having their way” with the kiddies, and the Catholic Church to continue covering up its various crimes.  And you know, I'd argue that that just ain’t right, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that a priest who diddles a kid'll rot in hell before a loving same-sex couple, or a politician who is just doing his job.

“It's not much of a stretch to argue that if it is gravely immoral to vote in such a manner, then a leader who introduces, promotes, and ties the hand of his cabinet to support such legislation bears an even heavier moral burden and consequent judgment.”

This “immorality,” again, is merely based on the opinion of the Catholic Church, which has no official capacity in determining Charter rulings, or even legislation.  The responsibility of a politician is to serve the constituents who voted him / her in… if a politician even dared to act against the constituents, especially based on religious convictions, it can be argued that that politician is in violation of basic democratic values his job is entirely based on, and would need to be replaced by someone who can properly do their job.  

Besides, under the Charter, same-sex marriage is a legal court ruling, not legislation that can be voted on and repealed.  (The Notwithstanding clause notwithstanding!)  Unless god himself judges, and you know what?  We're just going to have to see on that one.  

“In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands, Christians must recognize that what is at stake here is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person. This is also the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia. Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death. Analogously, the family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability. Other forms of cohabitation cannot be placed on the same level as marriage.”

Pure opinion, clad in strong language.  This time, one that assumes that “the faithful” are the arbiters of morality in politics, which is of course not the case in our pluralistic Canadian liberal democracy.  We – all citizens – are the arbiters of morality in politics, and this changes as we change, like it or not.  Our legislative and judicial branches reflect this.  

And once again, as has been the case for ages, Bishop Henry is using arguments (“moral law”) that cannot possibly be proven on this earthly plane, and can be widely and rightly refuted by other citizens, as we are all completely and technically equal in the eyes of Canadian law.  As mentioned before, “moral law” has often been used by the Catholic Church and its officials for corrupt and immoral purposes – I dare say that hundreds of years of history gives us the right to be skeptical of the Church’s practical use of their “moral law.”  I certainly am, and do you blame me?

“When individuals, representing the Church's teaching office, intervene in the social realm, the intent is not to eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions. On the contrary, it is to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those in political life, so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good.”

Whose good?  By “common good,” Bishop Henry implicitly means “the good of the faithful.”  The rest, literally, be damned.  It is our responsibility as citizens of a tolerant, pluralistic democracy to combat such a dated and biased position.  

“What is at issue is the duty to be morally coherent within one's conscience, which is one and indivisible. There cannot be two parallel lives: on the one hand, the so-called "spiritual" life, with its values and demands, and on the other, the so-called "secular" life in a family, at work, and in the social realm of public life and culture.”

As history has shown time and time again, since Luther nailed that theses on the door at Wittenberg in 1518, there must be a separation of a church and state, or our basic operation of a functional democracy is threatened.  The Church is not a democratic, accountable institution (unless you count the accountability to god, and who the hell can prove that?)  Martin Luther certainly saw that that such nebulous claims for divine accountability can certainly be corrupted and used for material gain, as the Catholic Church has done time and time again throughout history.  Again, I question if the Catholic Church has any moral authority to say anything about anything, really, based on history (recent history, even - please be accountable to god in your own house before bleating about anyone else's...)

“This issue is too important to be simply left to politicians to decide. We need much more debate, discussion, and input from Canadians.”

I agree with this.  And I, along with many other citizens passionate about Canadian society, will be there to debate, discuss, and input – and refute – anything thrown by the Catholic Church that seeks to cripple secular, tolerant, pluralistic Canadian democracy.  Even hellfire and brimstone.  

You can count on it.

Cheers kids, Ter.

 

july 8, 2003

An e-mail I received from a friend re: auditions for an "Asian-Canadian-full-hyphen" play:

> To: TAPE
> Subject: [tape2tape] AUDITIONS - CHINA DOLL

> Call for Auditions:  

> "China Doll" by Marjorie Chan, Directed by Kelly Thornton

> 3 Asian Actors (2 female, 1 male)
> AUDITIONS - TORONTO: Tuesday July 22 and Wednesday July 23@ 

> Tapestry Nightwood New Works Studio in The Distillery District
> 55 Mill St. The Cannery Building Studio 315 and 316

> The play will be produced by Nightwood Theatre at the
> Tarragon Extra Space. Rehearsals begin January 19,
> 2004. Show opens February 19, 2004 and closes March
> 14, 2004.

> China Doll by Marjorie Chan-

> >CHARACTER BREAKDOWN
> >
> > SETTING: 1905-1918 Shanghai, China
> >
> > CHARACTERS:
> >
> > POA-POA: The maternal grandmother of the lead
> character Siu-Ling. She has had a very bitter life,
> growing up as a concubine's daughter in a wealthy
> household, and eventually ending up as a seamstress.
> She is driven by her need to reclaim her former life
> and social status. She is traditional and reserved but
> with a fiery temper. (Character Age: 50-60)
> >
> > MERCHANT LI: A lonely fabric merchant of Shanghai,
> who has a fetish for lotus shoes and bound feet. He
> runs a fabric shop visited by Siu-Ling and Poa-Poa. He
> has ties to Western cultures and the black market of
> Shanghai. He teaches Siu-Ling to read and provides her
> with the Chinese translation of A Doll's House. In his
> loneliness, he resorts to prostitutes and opium dens.
> He is a complicated loner who ultimately loses his
> battle with his obsessions. (Character Age: 35-50)
> >
> >MING: Siu-Ling's maidservant. She has worked her
> entire life as a servant in the Chen household. She
> has an acute understanding of class and how best to
> use it to her own advantage. She is rebellious,
> mischievous and rough around the edges. There is
> always a sense of danger around her. (Character Age:
> Teenager - can be played by actor 20-30)
> >
> > SYNOPSIS:
> >
> >China Doll is the story of Siu-Ling, a rebellious
> young woman in Shanghai, 1916. Raised by her
> grandmother, Siu-Ling's tiny and exquisitely bound
> feet mark her only real worth as a bride and as a
> woman. But as wedding preparations surround her, she
> finds herself increasingly frustrated by life's path.
> >
> > When Merchant Li secretly sews Siu-Ling's bridal
> shoes for her, thus breaking an ancient taboo,
> Siu-Ling allows him to sexually satisfy himself with
> her feet. To Merchant Li, her feet are interesting and
> titillating: the white cotton bandages, the deep
> crevice in the foot, the fetid aroma of rotting flesh,
> and Siu-Ling's cries of pain. Dealing in the black
> market, Li gives Siu-Ling a Mandarin translation of
> Ibsen's "A Doll's House" popular with the prostitutes
> in the tea houses of Blood Alley. As the preparations
> continue, Siu-Ling surreptitiously reads on,
> emboldened by Nora's tale?

I guess I'd be interested in auditioning if they put in a character like this:



CRAZY WOO:  A psychotic, twitchy time traveler from the 21st Century with a penchant for 1000-year old eggs and large calibre-ammo.  He goes back and unbinds feet, bitch-slaps foreign colonials and rotten-feet-smelling wierdos,
and does a bit of soft shoe routine for Sun-Yat Sen, thus freeing all future generations of asian women from a life of tragic bondslavery and cooking freaky shit for home-cooked meals.  His actions serve to reduce the overall volume of whining and bitching by future generations of asian women on how they've been screwed over by Chinese patriarchy, and he eventually emerges as a cult superhero enshrined in the hearts of millions of obsessive, opium-smoking asian guys worldwide.

 

march 15, 2003

 

march 10, 2003

From a recent Google search on "Banana Boys"...

(I'm rolling my eyes here...)

 

march 3, 2003

There's this great episode of Tour of Duty where a race war sparks between black and (mostly Southern) white members of the platoon, over the display of the confederate flag.  They're about to come to blows with each other in the compound, with Tucker (one of the white soldiers) ready to lynch Johnson (a black one), when the platoon Sargeant (Zeke – a good ol’ boy himself) comes out and decks him soundly.  He then shouts:

"Not in my platoon! NOT IN MY PLATOON! THIS IS WHERE I LIVE!  THIS IS MY HOME!" 

This ain't simple minded "America - love it or leave it" stuff.  Zeke came from a rough background with a lot of personal tragedy, and the Army is the one place he settled in, the one place that has accepted him, where he belongs.  It is, quite simply, his home. 

That’s how I feel about Canada.  There are a huge number of things I dislike and disagree with in Canada, I’ve tasted garbage like racism and the like growing up…but I still love it because it gave my folks a home when the shit was flying like gangbusters way back when in the old world. 

So the above bit, as melodramatic as it sounds, is what I want to shout myself when I hear people arguing about old world bullshit.  It doesn’t matter what the issues are - Israel vs. the Palestinians, Serbs vs. Croats, Koreans vs. Japanese, Hindu vs. Muslim, etc. ad nauseum… it’s old world bullshit, it doesn’t belong here.

If you’re here, love your country.  Leave the hate behind.  I don’t care if it’s race, creed, religion or genetic programming – it doesn’t belong here.  And I’m absolutely 100% certain I have the authority to say this, and if you think otherwise, you can truly go fuck yourself.  This is where I live.  This is my home.

 

january 26, 2003

Fascinating article.  Italics and annotations mine.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/860774.asp

Banana's future is on the skids

LONDON, Jan. 17 - It is one of the world's favorite fruits, but the banana hasn't had sex in years and its days may be are numbered. Without scientific help, the sterile, seedless fruit could disappear within 10 years, according to a Belgian plant pathologist.

EMILE FRISON, the head of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain in Montpellier, France [I am a card carrying member], said the fruit lacks the genetic diversity to fight off diseases and pests that are plaguing banana plantations, and only biotechnology and genetic manipulation may be able to save it.

Frison sees it as the only hope for the banana, the magazine New Scientist said in this week's issue. Without assistance banana production could drop and mark the beginning of the end of the fruit.

"We may even see the extinction of the banana as both a lifesaver for hungry and impoverished Africans and as the most popular product on the world's supermarket shelves," the magazine added.
Since modern-day bananas do not possess viable seeds, the plants must be propagated vegetatively by planting stems or sucker sprouts. The black seed like specks sometimes seen within the fruit are actually aborted ovules that do not mature into seeds.

 

january 14, 2003

Here's an adjusted piece I did for the Banana Blog (www.bananablog.net):

Oh No, Not Again...

I'm not getting any younger. Turning 32 in a few days.

A friend of mine met this girl at a party. He told me that she was 20, Asian, attractive, and completely on a different plane of existence than we were. She went to Western for an undergrad in business, and had aspirations to go to Harvard for a joint MBA and LLB (which was impossible: "LLB" is a Canadian law designation, American colleges grant a "JD," but he didn't disabuse her of the notion because she was kinda hot.)

And I thought: "Good lord, 20 year olds and their ambition. When I was 20, I guess I had that kind of ambition. Now, I just pray that I get to the end of the day without going completely fucking bonkers."

I guess that's the way it is when you get older. Things that used to mean a heck of a lot to you suddenly become less important. Call it perspective, call it apathy, it's really a mixed bag. There are, however, some things that persist, merely because the patterns are sometimes too difficult to ignore.  Such as interracial dating.  Especially the white guy-asian girl phenom.

Admittedly, when I was going out with someone, I tended to notice it less (or rather, I'd accord it the attention it generally deserves in conjunction with getting some on a regular basis.) But now that I'm single and bitter again, I find myself free to re-mount that horse and charge head first into the sunset. Its something that I've noticed for a very, very long time, and I still notice it, regardless of who hard I try not to:

- I live around U of T, and its difficult NOT to notice the sheer number of WMAF couples, and a distinct lack of AMWF couples (or AM-anything couples for that matter, but that's neither here nor there.) Huh. Why does this phenom always cluster around centres for higher learning?

- A white guy who sits a few cubes down from me spends a lot of his free time looking at pictures of Asian chickies on www.asianchickies.com (or something like that.) He has a poster of a cute Asian model in a bikini taped to the ceiling (presumably because he can lean back and relax in style, after a long day of looking at Asian chickies on the Web.) How...nice.

- One drunken night, I was browsing the web with a few buddies (that's pretty geeky, I know.) We ended up on a dating website, and it was difficult NOT to notice the number of Asian women advertising on the site specifically looking for white guys (not to mention the number of white girls specifically looking for white guys). Gee, it's good to feel wanted.

- I remember back in 1996, I was arguing with a good friend at the corner of 96th and Broadway down in NYC about the disparity between WMAFs and AMWFs. He disagreed vehemently, and we continued to argue for a good 20 minutes, during which we saw a minimum of 4 WMAF couples and zero AMWF couples. I said "did you see that?" and he had to shake his head and admit that he did.

Five or ten years ago, I'd probably be a lot more bothered by it, I suppose - you're young, you have a fire in your belly, and you sturm und drang against the utter injustice of life, the universe, and everything, especially at ourselves, because we all know that we are the center of the universe, right? But you live a bit and you do realize that its a large and very confusing world out there, that everyone has their own story, and that concepts such as justice and equality and closure are largely man-made concepts that are ideals that only marginally map onto the canvas of real life. And you realize that the only thing you can really change is yourself, and your way of perceiving things.

Personally, I think I'm a reasonable guy. I do know that deep down, its just one of those things, and at the end of the day, Love really is all you need - you find that special someone who you can build something special with, most everything else - games, politics, petty feelings and insecurities - become peripheral at best.

Still, it doesn't take away from an eerie pattern that tends to creep up on you every so often. I guess it'd be a lot worse to be in other socio-economic stations in life. But, this is still MY station, for better or worse. I am Banana Boy; this is a Banana Boy thing. You do what you can to understand, and if you're lucky, you can write a book about it and help a few others understand along the way.

 

january 13, 2003

http://www.lilaclane.com/relationships/emotional-abuse/male-victim-abuse.html

Someone told me once to quit being such a martyr.  I'll stop.  Someday.  But not today.

 

december 17, 2002

Pensive Thought #247394:

From one of my fave Simpsons episodes, the one where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five bucks, with which he buys crappy sponges, and Lisa buys it back from the Comic Book Guy for all the change in her piggy bank…

Lisa:  “But you know, Bart, some philosophers believe that nobody is born with a soul… that you have to earn one through suffering and thought and prayer.”

I wonder if I have a soul.  Still earning it, maybe.

 

november 22, 2002

Who is Terry Woo?

A funny thing happened to me the other day…

Okay, so I sometimes (maybe frequently – please don't call me narcissistic...) do searches on Google.com on Banana Boys - I want to discover new articles or reviews written to post them up on bananaboys.com. Here's what I search for...

So about a week ago, I discover the following search results…

So I clicked on it, and discovered that I’d been listed as a participant at a Harvard-organized discussion on Pluralism (which I vaguely understood as multiculturalism). Here’s the formal listing:

Religious Pluralism in North America

The Pluralism Project, Harvard University
Toronto, November 22-23, 2002

Religious Pluralism in North America
Friday, November 22, 2002
1:00 - 8:30 P.M.
Metro Toronto Convention Center Room 716-B

Invited Participants:

Terry Woo

Terry Woo graduated from the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario with a degree in Systems Design Engineering, and one in Psychology. His novel, Banana Boys (The Riverbank Press, 2000), is about five Chinese Canadians, "Bananas" (read: yellow on the outside, white on the inside), caught in between two cultures which do not seem to accept them fully.
www.bananaboys.com

 

I was honoured to find my name and info about the book among a roster of highly-credentialed professors from across North America, but also kinda surprised:  no one from Harvard at Pluralism.org had contacted me about it, and the discussion was supposed to take place on Friday Nov 22nd, which was in about a week or so.

So I decided to give them a call.  A very nice lady named Grove Harris, a Project Manager for Pluralism.org, answered and I asked her if I was still invited.  She said yes, and we talked a little bit about my role as a participant (I wasn’t to give a presentation, but I could participate in the discussions throughout the day, and I could even set up in back to sell a few copies of the book.)  Cool.

Like I said, I was honoured, but puzzled because the discussion topic was specifically about religious pluralism – understanding and better learning about the mosaic of religions in Canada and the US.  I was wondering what this had to do with Banana Boys – arguably a secular book (then again, Shel’s a confused Catholic and Luke was an agnostic who “worshipped the god Agnos.”)  Cultural pluralism, maybe… but religious?  I dunno. Maybe I was uneasy because of my recent disastrous misadventure with Catholicism (no comment here.)  I guess I shrugged it off, not only because it was a chance to evangelize (ha ha) about Banana Boys, but also because it was an excuse to take a day off work, which had become kind of unbearable the past week or so.

So Friday rolled around, I packed up a few books and go to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  I got there 10 minutes early, got my name card and folder, briefly introduced myself to Professor Diana Eck, the main organizer for the event, and sat down.

Diana started introducing the crowd of about 50 people (mostly academics) and gave an opening statement about the discussion, which turned out to be interesting - the participants were all quite intelligent and passionate - but less and less relevant to Banana Boys.  (It was mostly pedagogical techniques for religious pluralism – organizing courses, prepping course materials, and setting up study groups and fields trips to visit different religious communities - mosques, synagogues, etc.)

So after 2 hours of interesting but only-vaguely relevant talks (for which I was quiet, although I did consider raising my hand a few times), we broke for coffee and I went up front to maybe find the person who'd originally invited me to take part in the discussion.  I talked to two of the Canadian panel members and introduced myself as Terry Woo, author of Banana Boys, and could you tell me who invited me?  One of the guys pointed to Grove, and then said something like – “oh yeah – I read about Terry Woo on the Web page, but I thought you were a woman.”

IT HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKSthey had the wrong Terry Woo!  I then recalled a few other past Google searches which brought up a Terry Woo who used to be based in Vancouver, wrote a book about Chinese Canadian women, and taught East Asian Religion at the U of T.  We laughed a bit, and then I went to see Grove to tell her about the mix up.

Guess what?  We laughed about it, but she vigourously disputed the notion that I shouldn’t of been there, inviting me to stay to judge for myself, citing a possible divine connection (the cynical, agnostic side of me worried that this was an evangelical tactic, but I was wrong – the discussion wasn’t about co-opting people to join a cause, but to explore ideas about learning about other religions, which I thought was really quite noble… of course, some atheist friends of mine – *cough* Gene *cough* - would think that the whole idea is based on a flawed notion anyway, but that’s neither here nor there.)

So I stayed for another hour and a half, quietly listening to some very intelligent and passionate presentations – it was much better than dealing with software project management and evil customers whining about bugs.  At the next break, I took my leave.  I said goodbye to Grove (really nice lady), asked her a few questions about religious pluralism out of interest, and gave her a copy of the book, chuckling all the way home.

Man, the weird and wonderful things that happen to me through The BookTM.  

Neat, eh?

 

november 2, 2002

Rohinton Mistry, Pro-yank Gadfly's, We're all going to hell.

John Ibbitson, who writes for the globe and mail, wrote a maddeningly-infuriating piece of on American racial profiling at the border in the opinion pages today.  Entitled "U.S. rules apply to use too," it came out on the same day Rohinton Mistry (Canadian, Indian-born, non-Muslim but still very brown) author cancelled all of his US stops because of racist harassment he received by the INS.

Here's a quote:

"You say it's racial profiling.  Damn right it is.  If it bothers you, complain to those government that are graduating homicidal fanatics from their educational system, not to Americans trying to protect themselves." 

An argument, as any non-white Canadian will tell him, that that he has the luxury to make.  Of course he can make it.  He's pigmentally-challenged.  Or rather, pigmentally-advantaged.  Yay for John Ibbitson. 
 
But who cares, right?  It's not his ox being gored.  It's not his fight.  He can fly to New York to Florida to Buttfuck, Idaho and back and not give a damn... clean and lily-white as the driven snow (at least he looks that way, thanks to those nice genes mummy and daddy gave him.)
 
A word of advice:  just take care not to tan yourself too much.

 

january 31, 2002

You know... I haven't (surprisingly) received a lot of criticism about the book, but here's a bit posted on the chapters-indigo online website...bless their shit-disturbing-lil' hearts!

Banana Boys - Woo (2 stars)

Reviewer: J Fitzpatrick from Toronto (jfitpat@yahoo.com)

Date: 1/23/2002 4:18:27 PM

"I would agree with the first reader who Reviewed this book - the title is a nice try and one wonders if there was new cloth to be cut here, why the author would present a poor man's mimic of Joy Luck format? (Shouldn't it be just the opposite? Where's the difference?) Mind you, Joy Luck, good or bad, went on to be a literary and financial success. This will probably make its way to the paperback bargain bin as so many other titles, but it is a quick (lightweight) read with some funny parts. Go to the library and get it."

And I got to wondering what you can say to people like this, who obviously don't get it (and more likely, just don't want to.)

I mean, when you write something, and it enters the public consciousness, it really does subject itself to a lot of opinions, some valid, and some not (as a wise person said, opinions are indeed like assholes - everyone has one, some people are one). You can't expect everyone to "get" what you're trying to say, and I'll be the first to admit that "Banana Boys" can be considered niche by any self-respecting Marketing department.

"Banana Boys" isn't mainstream, although a lot of the references in there are. The best responses I've gotten are from other Banana Boys - and lots of Girls - who can tune in on a less conscious level to all the cultural nuances that have built up over a lifetime, just under the radar. But I really believe that "Banana Boys" has a lot of value for the mainstream, just like anything else considered alternative. The thing is that there are people from the mainstream who are open-minded who can accept stuff like this, while others are quite close-minded. Open-minded people tend to accept alternative things for what they are - a statement that seeks to reflect on what it's like to be on the outside. Closed-minded people tend to be more reactionary - something that irks or disturb their comfortable sense of being, their sense that as long as I'm near or on the top, things are swell. (I can go further and say that it's obvious that this kind reader has a deeply-dug in reservoir of white male anger directed at people who tries to present an alternative point of view - one that threatens his position of over-privilege - but we all knew that, so it really need not be said... ;) )

The thing that satisfies me, though, is that buddy here completely discredits himself by betraying the fact that he takes it personally. Angry white males usually do, and that's why they fail. Rather than dismissing the book with solid arguments or facts, he attempts to mask his rage by being kinda blase, with some callow logic ("Shouldn't it be the opposite?" - erm, why, *should* it be anything other than what *i* want it to be, son?... "What's the difference?" - if you don't have the intellectual capacity to evaluate satirical reflection, then that's not my fault, then, is it?), classifying "Joy Luck" as a "literary success" despite its Danielle Steele-like rep among the critics, and making a throwaway comment about the bargain bin, and a recommendation to borrow it from the library (which is actually a good recommendation - support your local library!)

Sure, stuff like that pisses me off, but it also gives me a strong sense of justice. You see, it's why we'll win and they'll lose. Because they aren't even aware that they have a mountain of baggage eating them up... something we've recognized and have dealt with and are making work for us. And I also take comfort in the fact that I can take people like this with two hands tied behind the brain stem.

november 12, 2001

Been a long time, eh?

Ever read the Rice Paper ? It's a pretty good mag that'll orient ya (pun intended) to the Asian Canadian arts community (something that I know blessedly little about, and learn more every day...). My friend Charlie, bless his overworked heart, is leaving, but in good hands evidently, so check it out and please subscribe - www.ricepaperonline.com - we need more stuff like this or we lose our whining rights about the lack of Asian representation in yadda yadda yadda...

august 24, 2001

Here's an article I did regarding this whole Sarah "The Hack" Silverman / "Chink-joke" controversy that's flooding forums like soc.culture.asian.american and the "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" message boards. I hope to submit it to Charlie at the Rice Paper ...

Sarcasm's Not the Lowest Form of Humour... Silverman Is.

A Tale of Racism, Arrogance, Childishness, and a Downright Pitiful Lack of Talent.

After an exhausting few days of searching on the web and posting on message boards, I think I can safely say that I'm tired of hearing about Sarah "The Hack" Silverman. In case you didn't know, Silverman is a so-called comedienne who ignited a small firestorm of controversy surrounding her use of the word "chink" in a joke that turned out to be far less funny than controversial.

A while ago, Silverman did a bit on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" that went something like this:

Silverman: "Yeah, you know, I got a jury duty notice... and I had to fill out a form. You send it in. You're randomly selected" and I don't wanna get selected for jury duty. So I'm filling out the form. And my friend said, 'Why don't you just write something really inappropriate, like, 'I hate Chinks'?' And I said, 'Yeah, that's a good idea.' But when you think about it, I don't want people to think that of me, you know? I just wanna get out of jury duty. So I just filled out the form, and I wrote, 'I love Chinks.' "

(Insert tumbleweed rolling by and ominous blowing of wind here. Stunning how comedy has evolved from a pie in the face and "pull my finger" to Sarah "The Hack" Silverman...)

The show issued some sort of apology for the usage of the slur on national television, and (apparently) so did she, but not meaningfully, as evidenced on her appearance soon afterwards on "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher." On PI, she rehashed the joke and, along with Bill's typical self-righteous bombast and some other indignant anti-PC neanderthals as panelists, proceeded to whine and cry "boo hoo hoo" about how's she was vilified by the media. Their main target was Guy Aoki, this Asian American activist dude who was calling on her for an apology. She even went as far as to say that this stupid excuse for a joke was socially illuminating - you know, with profound social value!

Silverman: "Yeah, it's clearly a joke, you know, illuminating racism. It's not a racist joke. It's a joke about racism."

(Gee, thanks bitch... you know, for emancipating me with this joke. We're knocking down the Lincoln Monument to put up a statue of your pathetic ass to thank you for your hallowed efforts... all hail!)

(A side note: Silverman, Bill Maher, and some of the other neurosurgeons PI had on as guests were also trashing this Aoki dude as some sort of political opportunist who "didn't really care" about the issue - like that makes sense. Very classy - trashing the guy and his motives with him not present to defend. The guests included Howie "Where The Hell Has My Career Gone?" Mandel, who made fun of Aoki's name - "okey-dokey." Howie, man, don't come back to Canada, unless you're gonna castrate yourself and feed your limp dick to the polar bears, eh?)

So hey... innocent me was just surfing the channels and I landed on "Politically Incorrect" to witness this moon-landing of a bad joke (It's been submitted by some other idiots that we - you know, Asians as a whole - should just turn off the telly or throw out the paper or leave the movie when crap like this happens - real empowering move there - so I, er uh, guess it was my fault my fingers weren't fast enough to switch the channel before I was offended, eh? But that's neither here nor there...) I have to admit that I found the joke only merely distasteful, nowhere near the disgust that I felt after listening to Silverman's whining and then wading through two country miles of electronic crap posted on the matter... seems like there are a lot of Angry White People out there upset because these uppity Asians are actually upset about this and aren't content to shut up and continue doing laundry for The Man (waaaal that's just too bad, innit caveman?) - and would prefer that all power of determination be immediately transferred back to their over-privileged asses.

I guess what really pissed me off was Silverman's Christ-like "Ooh look at me I'm a victim!" bit, coupled with a large dose of "I'm a progressive social mirror!" C'mon, now really! You're a goddamn comedian - with that claim lessening every day now - and the original joke wasn't even funny... if I were the owner of "Joe's Comedy Club and Fishmonger" in Haupaugge, Long Island, I'd fricken well to tear up her residency there. It's obvious that this Silverman character / caricature wasn't going for a profound social statement... she's giving herself far too much credit for "illuminating racism." Let's face it: she used "chink" because it was a cheap way to be edgy and controversial, because she assumed that she could get away with it... we should be asking ourselves if she would use the word "nigger" in place of "chink" - probably not, ay? Because she wouldn't have the guts to on national television, knowing full well that there'd be twenty-plus African-American Aoki's on her ass, with zero support from the masses except for the Montana Militia or something.

There's nothing progressive or Christ-like about this pathetic excuse for a comedienne at all - I dare say that the only thing she has in common with Christ is that they're both Jewish.

What really surprises me is her surprise and indignation at the backlash she's receiving from Asians: I mean, I know we have this rep for taking shit like this up the ass and not saying anything, but we have our moments, ay? Sometimes our voice gets heard. And so this guy Aoki publicized this lame excuse for a joke and called for an apology, and now she's whining that she's being vilified and probably sucking up to Bill Maher's for all the appearances she's getting on "Politically Correct" to dish out this Pollyanna crap.

Baby, just admit that you tried something, it fell flat on its face. Now grow the fuck up and take your lumps, or else get a new day job.

But that ain't all: "Politically Incorrect" responded to this guy Aoki's request for equal air time to tell his side of the story, so a few weeks later, he was on along with Silverman. Aoki was all right, but not stellar: he was academic at times, and not particularly charismatic. I can't say I'm entirely sympathetic to Aoki's methods, but definitely his cause. Then again, there aren't too many people like him out there, so he deserves a whole lot of credit for saying something while most of us would just whine on a message board or something. In one bit, he was cornball but entirely correct when he said this:

Aoki: "You know, when you're playing with racial slurs, you're playing with fire. And if you're gonna be playing with fire, expect to get burnt."

...and to which she replied in typically-witty Silverman style: "That is so jackass." (Christ, that doesn't even make sense...)

Actually, throughout the entire second episode of "Politically Incorrect," she showed she was whiny and immature, incapable of handling the fire Aoki was dishing out, and she falls back on schoolyard style insults like calling Aoki a "douche-bag," and this comedic gem:

Silverman: You know what? There are only two Asian people I know that I don't like. One is you, and the other is... my friend Steve, who actually went pee-pee in my Coke.

(Grow up little girl. Bill won't be around to protect you with his bombast all the time...)

In all this, I guess I ain't calling her an out and out racist... but I am calling her a talentless hack, and a shameless opportunist who uses race for the advancement of her own career. She should leave "edgy" and "innovative" to real comedians like Janine Garafalo. That's something that's sadly been ignored in this blasted controversy: Silverman's pathetic lack of talent, and the way this brouhaha gives her far, far more publicity than she deserves. She reminds me of Andrew Dice Clay back in the eighties heyday: sure, he was had his 15 minutes because he tapped into the misguided anger of the white mainstream masses, but the humour was offensive and funny for exactly 15 minutes before the eyeballs start rolling. With The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, his humour was mainstreamed and neutered, and that spelled the end of that hack, and good riddance.

And so shall this be for Sarah "The Hack" Silverman, because edginess with no real talent or maturity is doomed the way of the Dice and the Dodo.

Keep the faith! Ter.

july 30, 2001

Just signed the movie option agreement with Persistence Pictures for "Banana Boys: The Movie" ! This gives Persistence Pictures the rights to explore making the book into a movie - YOWZA! Hopefully, this'll turn into something real good...

june 17, 2001

Here's a quote by yours truly from a recent interesting email exchange...

"Patience... this is the decade where Asian Manhood dominates, resulting in the subjugation of all before our... well, our Asian Manhood. And Banana Boys will lead the way into this glorious new era. 'And the mountains will drop sweet wine... and the number of counting shall be three...' "

may 18, 2001

The trip to Vancity was wildly productive...

1. Met with the editor of the Rice Paper. Charlie "ubereditor" tuned me onto a lot of good contacts...

2. Met with a local CBC TV show on Asia Pacific. Had an (exhausting) round table on race, identity etc. I know you think I think about this

constantly, but I don't, really - at the end, all I wanted to do was crawl into a corner with a bottle of tequila and spend some "quality time."

3. Met with a local CBC Radio show called "North by Northwest." This went really well!

4. Met with potential producer for movie. Very comepetent and down to earth (ie. she didn't see banana boys as an "asian-power-identity-raceracerace" sort of thing, thank God.

Also hung out with the cousins, saw Joe-Knee, hung out with Maboh, vegged at English Bay beach. Yay!

april 24, 2001

More lunatic ravings on the debacle that is Iron Road: A friend commented that it seems Asian women are always depicted as falling for their white oppressors, and I said they shoulda named it (drum roll please...)

"Starvation, Slavery, and the Helsinki Syndrome South of Chilliwack."

And if they got Chilliwack to score it: "Gone gone gone she been gone so long she benn gone gone gone so long - MY GIRL!"

My God, that doesn't even make any sense.

april 22, 2001

Okay, here's a rant about "The Iron Road," the new musical that opened at the Elgin theatre downtown. It was so mind-bogglingly bad that the only redeeming feature was the neat little cardboard-and-plastic looking-glasses we got because we were in the nosebleeds...

The Iron Road: White-Liberal Fantasy Meets Historical Revisionism in an Abomination That Doesn't Even Come Close to Doing Justice to Our Cultural Past.

The Iron Road is, in my eyes, is embarrassingly bad musical theatre that does far more harm than good to the Asian Canadian artistic canon. If you're looking for "Miss Saigon" set on a railroad, you've found it; the play is an accessiblized mess that pays only lip-service the Chinese Canadian contribution to the nations history. Written by Mark Brownell, the libretto is set in the 1800's, during the construction of the CPR, where the story of Chinese migrants and their struggle is merely relegated to a backdrop for an unbelievable romantic plot between the Chinese heroine, Lai Gwan, and a white foreman, referred to as Nicol.

After her mother's death, Lai Gwan sets out across the ocean to find her father, Manli. Disguising herself as a man (insert derivative shades of Fa-Mulan here), she labours on the railways, raising revolution for her abused Chinese brethren against their white supervisors, yet inexplicably falling for the foreman. Throughout the production, we are gratuitously exposed to mystical Orientalist imagery, from dream sequences to the existence of ghosts, to interpretive dance that seems completely incongruous with the stark, grey surroundings of the railway.

One major credibility problem was the one-dimensional depiction of the villain, the Bookman, an unscrupulous character who took advantage of the Chinese workers for his own gain. Far be it for me to deny that Bookman-type figures don't exist - they do, and they still do, taking advantage of their countrymen for greed's sake. But in an incredulous twist of events, he turns out to be the heroines father, a man who abandons his family back home for profit, and subsequently rejects his daughter for ruining his profitable venture... add a side of foot-binding, and you've completed the modern Tan-ist stereotype of Asian patriarchy. In an act of contrived repentance, he launches into a monologue of regret, and attempts to end his own life by setting a dynamite charge in an obvious ploy to add some emotional manipulation in the production.

The even bigger fiction was Nicol, the foreman, who finds his "soft side" falling in love with the heroine, who is "drawn like a river to his shores." It's impossible to believe a hard-drinking man in a hard-driving environment, whose job is to send hundreds of men to their death, changing into a soft-hearted hero upon learning of Lai Gwan's secret. It's even more difficult to believe the heroine could champion workers rights through hard-nosed union rabble-rousing, and yet still fall in love with Nicol, who is responsible for the abuse in the first place. It's a contrived romantic plot, a Tan-like white liberal fantasy that is completely devoid of any realism. It distracts and ultimately takes away from the important historical theme of the suffering and racism the Chinese railway workers had to endure.

Needless to say, I had serious problems with the message of the production. There are some good attempts at decrying the corporate, all-for-profit nature of the CPR's construction, and the "Our Nation / Your Nation" scene near the end was very poignant. The acting is also quite good (kudos to Stuart Howe for demonstrating ample talent, even though his role was politically hard-to-stomach.) But the production focuses far too much on contrivances all too common in mundane musical theatre - the noble quest, the forbidden romance (with ghosts - of course - forbidding the union of Lai Gwan and Nicol), the evil villain (portrayed with subversive racist and misandrist undertones), and finally, redemption that has little relevance for modern times. What galls me is that it bills itself as a modern Canadian production that promotes multicultural values, when it clearly subscribes to mystical, stereotypical, and irrelevant perceptions of the Chinese Canadian railway experience. That struggle isn't mystical; it isn't about ghosts and magic and patriarchy and (I'm going to get flamed for this) modern female empowerment. It's about a people leaving a wretched existence and exploited in an even more wretched one, basically because of their skin colour, for the sake of corporate hegemony. And the legacy that era leaves us still hangs over us, in "Canada the Good." Iron Road just doesn't do it justice, to the legacy left for all Chinese Canadians today.

A real shame is that an opportunity to showcase Asian Canadian talent comes once in a blue moon, in theatre or anywhere else. I look at Iron Road as a missed opportunity in that respect, and something that may damage the cause a whole lot more than it helps. Yeah, you can quote me on this.

april 16, 2001

Just the other day, I was having a slabaza with a bud, arguing about the nature of banana-hood (hey, what else is new? what else do I do, anyway?) and he jokingly calls me "self-hating." Okay, I know it's a joke, all in good fun and all that, but it's stuff like that that's exactly the type of crap most of the Banana Boys face, right? "You're not Asian." "You're not Canadian." etc. etc. These other people really have no fucking clue about the person inside, slapping a label like that on them. I mean, if you say it enough times, you start to believe it.

What the boys are saying is this: "Yo. You're wrong. I love me.

It's you I hate."

*with apologies to danny - truly a nice guy whom i do not hate. but i am *not* gay. ;)

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