Friday, February 10, 2006

Calling All Asian-Americans

"We come all the way from the far country China and we born you here in America just so you can get B plus?"

Regardless of motherland -- whether it be China, Vietnam, Japan, India or Korea -- you have GOT to check this out. I laughed so hard I cried...even after the tenth viewing. When I showed it to my dad, he said, after wiping away his tears and clutching his abdomen as he was laughing so hard, "Someone needs to give these kids their own TV show. Oh, and sorry if your mom and I ever did that to you when you were a kid. We couldn't help it; our parents were Chinese too, you know."

Anyway, without further ado...

If you want to watch the great pains poor Erick Tsai has to go through to bring his B plus up to an A, watch the entire clip, and I dare you not to laugh during the Macbeth rap. Seriously, these kids should be paid for being this funny.

Oh, and for some more Asian fun, here's a funny clip of China's Back Dormitory Boys (after the jump).

Guess what? They're famous! So, YAY for the motherland!!!

Or, in my case, the grandmotherland, I guess.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

"History, like God, is watching what we do..."

In honor of U2's big win at the Grammys, here are some excerpts from Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.

"There is a continent -- Africa -- being consumed by flames.

I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did -- or did not do -- to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do..."

"Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill... I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff... maybe, maybe not... But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house... God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives... God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war... God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them..."

"I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to ten percent of the family budget. Well, how does that compare the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than one percent.

Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:

I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing... Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional one percent of the federal budget tithed to the poor.

What is one percent?

One percent is not merely a number on a balance sheet.

One percent is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. One percent is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. One percent is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business thanks to you. One percent is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This one percent is digging waterholes to provide clean water.

One percent is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism towards Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description.

America gives less than one percent now. We're asking for an extra one percent to change the world. to transform millions of lives -- but not just that and I say this to the military men now -- to transform the way that they see us.

One percent is national security, enlightened economic self interest, and a better safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, one percent is the best bargain around.

These goals -- clean water for all; school for every child; medicine for the afflicted, an end to extreme and senseless poverty -- these are not just any goals; they are the Millennium Development goals, which this country supports. And they are more than that.

They are the Beatitudes for a Globalised World..."

Read the rest here.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We need more Bonos in the world.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Anyone who's ever spent all off five minutes in Asia will tell you that this is a continent steeped in superstition and tales of the supernatural. Baby-stealing ghosts, aliens, fireball-spouting snakes -- you name it, we believe it. Unlike in the West, when someone tells a ghost story here, it's not so much, "What? Hah. Yeah right, like that'd really happen," it's more a sense of, "Yes, that reminds me of the time I was fourteen and was held down by a ghost in my sleep and was told that if I didn't remove my younger brother from his room, another rival ghost in the house was going to kill him."

That, by the way, apparently happened to my friend's father many years ago. He didn't heed the ghost's warnings, and coincidentally his baby brother was found dead in his crib the next morning.

Obviously, this is a country full of supernatural believers. Which is why, when a professor at my university decided to end it all by jumping from the top floor of the science building last month, I knew that -- after it made the evening news, was splashed across the Thai tabloids, and was followed by a copycat student suicide at ABAC the very next day (seriously, this actually happened) -- it was only going to be a matter of time before the ghost stories would begin to appear.

It didn't take long.

The following week, the university held the Buddhist equivalent of a memorial/wake (งานทำบุญ). Students, professors, and members of the admin were invited. Basically, everyone.

Well, here's the thing...

Guess who also showed up?

Yeah. That's be the professor.

As in the professor who'd taken the fall the week before.

Of course, this is all based on the word of the group of students who'd been sitting in the last row. Apparently she'd appeared behind them clad in black, head bent, and praying. A handful of professors saw her too, and boy did they make sure to mention it in class the next day.

I know, I know. It all sounds like something from out of a D-list horror flick, but it isn't. It totally isn't. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.

You see, everyone else fully believed that the teacher had appeared at the wake/งานทำบุญ. No one so much as questioned the veracity of the story. After all, this is Thailand, a country that feeds off of ghost stories and the like. Who cares if it's real or fake? Thais love a good scare. Why do you think horror flicks do so well here?

As for me, I've lived in Thailand long enough to know better than to question such stories. Personally, I've never seen or felt a spiritual/ghostly presence my entire life, but that doesn't mean I scoff and thumb my nose at the idea of spiritual beings. Like most people, I like a good ghost story. I get spooked, but then I forget about it because, well, it's precisely that -- a story. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Here's the thing: the wake/งานทำบุญ was held in the room I have class in every Wednesday and Friday. Knowing this doesn't exactly make you want to sashay into class in the early morning, if you know what I mean. But the thing is, I have to. Sashay into class in the early morning, that is. This is because I have to cart my brother to school at the crack-ass of dawn every morning, resulting in me arriving to class an hour earlier than everyone else. So, last week, after dropping my books/junk off in class, I headed for the bathroom to wipe off my shoes since I'd accidentally stepped in a huge puddle on my way up (totally long story not worth getting into now, but the gist of it is that I am seriously the world's biggest klutz ever).

So there I was, scrubbing down my shoes with soap and water when suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the stall doors slammed shut. With a bang. A very loud, very frightening, very unexpected bang.

I don't think I ever jumped as far or as high as I did that day. I didn't scream, though. Honestly, I think I was too scared to. I was shaking pretty badly, though. My knees were totally trembling and because the bang had caught me unawares, I'd accidentally dropped my shoe into the sink, where I'd been running it under the faucet.

Well, right after banging shut, the door swung open again. As in by itself.

I don't care where you live in the world or whether you believe in ghosts or not, but BATHROOM STALL DOORS DO NOT SWING OPEN BY THEMSELVES.

I'd like to think I'm a brave girl, but if you think I didn't say to myself, "screw the shoes" and hightail it out of there like a roadrunner high on Speed, then you're pretty crazy.

Later, when I was in the safety of the bright morning sunshine, I sat down and tried to make sense of what had happened. I mean, as a rational, scientific person, I was certain there had to be a logical explanation. But after looking at it from every possible angle, I realized that I was just grasping at straws because there WASN'T a logical explanation for what had happened.

Here's why:

1. All the windows in the bathroom had been closed. I remember thinking to myself that it was blazing hot, and that one of the housekeepers should have opened the windows to let in some air. But they hadn't. So, with the windows closed tight, no gusts of wind could have crept in and blown that door shut.

2. It was the sunniest day of the frigging year. Even if the windows HAD been open, which they hadn't, there wouldn't have even BEEN any wind to blow the door shut in the first place.

3. Only one door slammed shut. ONE. Not two, three, or all six, but one. ONE. HAD there been a gust of wind -- which there HADN'T, I repeat, there HADN'T -- wouldn't it make sense for at least two or more doors to slam shut? Wind is not selective. It does not go, "Hmm, I think I'll slam this door shut to scare the bejeezus out of Lynn the World's Biggest Klutz Ever." No, wind goes, "What the hell, let's blow everything over!" Don't believe me? Ask my cousin, aunt, and uncle who spent a good ten hours last year trying to haul ass out of Houston so they could outrun Hurricane Rita. WIND IS NOT SELECTIVE, PEOPLE.

4. The bathroom was located just down the hall from the dead professor's office. She'd probably used that bathroom EVERY SINGLE DAY when she was alive. In death, could she have been confused, thinking that she still had a bladder to empty? Or could she have simply wanted to scare the bejeezus out of Lynn the World's Biggest Klutz Ever?

Well, I guess we'll never know the answer to that one. What I DO know is that I totally believe in ghosts now. I swear I will never laugh at another ghost story again. Not even Casper. I have SO much sympathy for Casper now, and I'm not just saying that because his human form was played by Devon Sawa, my 7th grade teenybopper crush.

Also, I have decided that I am never going alone to the bathroom in the science building ever again. If no one else is available to accompany me, then I will either suck it up and hold it in, risking the chance of suffering from a urinary bladder infection at age 23, or run to the adjoining engineering or liberal arts buildings to relieve my bladder of its contents. I'd like to think I'm brave, but hello, let's be realistic -- I'm not Xena the Warrior Princess.

So, what about you guys? Have you ever seen/heard/witnessed a living, breathing (figuratively speaking, of course) ghost? If so, do share! I'd love to hear your stories.


My cousin P'Ju, her husband Phido, my other cousin P'Nuch, and her husband, P'Amorn, all visited from Houston last month. P'Ju and Phido also brought along their daughter, Natalie, who has grown up SO much this past year. I also got to see Charn (he's not P'Ju's kid, by the way, but P'Chun's, but he wasn't there), who has also grown up SO much since I last saw him. I'm totally convinced Nat and Charn are the cutest kids ever. But you really shouldn't listen to me because I am totally biased, me being their aunt and all.

Anyway, in classic Thai fashion, we shared 3 pots of steaming suki at MK for dinner. Afterwards, we made a big deal of posing for the camera, again, in classic Thai fashion. What I nearly pulled a rib laughing over is this -- what I swear can only be defined as the classic Kiangsoontra/Kiat-Amnuay/Boonyawongvirot/Cheng family photo.

This photo is so exciting; there are so many things happening at once: My aunt's yelling out to my cousin to turn on the flash; P'Ju and my two uncles are blinking; My dad's (yes, yes, I know I look like him) off to the edge, practically standing in his own room; Pali's staring at the wrong camera; and Natalie's too busy fishing for my uncle's necktie to even care about the camera. Only Charn looks like he's got it together. Check out that totally hip wave. He looks like he's thinking, "Dude, I am so not with them. I am probably adopted. There is no way I could have inherited any form of genetic material from these freaks. No way."

[But just to show you that we aren't freaks 24/7, here are some pics of us when we aren't blinking/standing off in our own room/fishing for neckties.]

But seriously, freaks or not, it's always nice to meet up with family. We had a similar get-together last year with some -- and I say some, because a full-fledged reunion with my dad's side of the family would entail nearly three hundred people -- relatives on my dad's side of the family, when my cousin P'Tong visited from Pennsylvania with his wife and kids, Joe and Kane. Unfortunately, the photo we took isn't nearly as exciting as the Kiangsoontra/Boonyawongvirot/Kiat-Amnuay/Cheng one, but it's a lovely one nonetheless. :)


Currently Watching: A Moment to Remember, per Pan's suggestion. Right now, all I can say is, dude, he so owes me a box of tissues. Sigh. The film was as sad and wonderful (and did I mention sad?) as he said it'd be...and more. In fact, it totally kicked My Sassy Girl, Il Mare, and The Classic out of the ballpark of sappy Korean movies. I can't even think about the movie without getting all weepy again. (DAMN YOU, PAN!!) Anyway, if you can't get your hands on the DVD, you can take a look here, where some kind soul has broken the movie down into 13 parts and uploaded it for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and keep the kleenix at hand. Lots of it. Don't worry though, you can charge Pan for it all later. ;)

Currently Reading: The Catcher in the Rye. I adored this book in high school. But how funny is it that the only thing I can remember about this book is how Mr. Jarrett Lambie used to sit at his desk and twirl his hair while listening to our (what must have been TOTALLY boring, now that I think about it) presentations on Holden and why he wanted to be the catcher in the rye, catching little children as they are about to fall off a cliff. Or whatever. I don't really remember. Which is why I'm re-reading it. Obviously.

Currently Playing: Blue Suede Shoes by the King. 50's and 60's hits will always remind me of my dad. He is the biggest Motown and 60's rock and roll fan and was forever playing his collection of vinyl records for me when I was a kid. If I had to put together a soundtrack of my childhood, it would be a hodgepodge of tunes by Chuck Berry, the Temptations, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, the Platters, the Beatles, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Nat King Cole, Billy Joel, Little Richard and of course, his favorite, Elvis Presley. My mom's contribution to the soundtrack would be anything by the Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, the Bee Gees, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, and...Michael Jackson. Hey, plastic-surgery loving pedophile or not, Thriller is only one of the best albums of all time, ya know.

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