Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Sorrow of Asian "Emotionlessness"

When the author was growing up as a secondary school student in the US, a favorite conversation topic among his Asian-American group of friends was the perceived "weirdness" of their respective Asian families.  The concrete example of "strange" were mostly bouts of what can be termed social aloofness, with awkward gift-giving during holidays, awkward presence and absence of affection, and even more awkward get-together of friends and families.  The comparisons were always with non-Asian families, were social occasions, to the Asian kids, seems always so smoothly conducted.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Should One Believe in the Security of Barricaded Compounds Anymore?

Another week, another news of terrorism wrecking havoc.  This time the setting is a high-end hotel frequented by high-flying foreigners in Bamako, the capital of recently politically unstable Mali.  The gunmen shot past the armed guards and front barricades of the building, taking over the building and picking off more than a dozen of foreign guests before being killed in a counter-assault by Malian and French commandos.  With the world still so focused on the aftermath of the Paris attacks, comparatively less attention has been given to Bamako, but for this attack can be more significant.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terrorism Wins When Attention is Given

There is no doubt that the terrorist attacks in Paris is unfortunate, and it is perfectly justified that traditional media are filled with news of latest developments and social networks are filled with messages of condolences.  Killing of innocents are morally and legally wrong and deserve to be condemned.  But the label "terrorism," after years of its continued threat to the Western world, should be more or less learned by now.  The very purpose is to generate attention through fear, with collateral damage to innocents as a tool.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cinematic Resonance with the "Ordinary"

When mentioning Japanese films, those in the know often come up with a few titles of horror ("the Ring" being the most well-known to a Western audience), cheesy tales of lost love (the list of tear-jerkers in this category goes on and on), or gruesome social critiques that evokes thoughts through exaggerations ("the Suicide Club" is a highly suggested film in this genre).  In all three, the ability to use an effective script for storytelling, often with limited budgets common for Japan's relatively small domestic market, is a key for success.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

When the Rain Brings the Agricultural New Year

For someone that has lived for years in the tropics, the coming of the monsoon has become more of a signature for passing times than change of seasons.  And just as past years, the author getting his "start-of-rainy-season" diarrhea and fever (quite literally) as the first rains of the monsoon land in Iringa.  Even as he holds his stomach in pain on the bed for much of the day, he cannot forget the romanticism that he has come to witness every time this year as he retraces the memories of the first rains in tropical Southeast Asia.