Memorial Day 2017

On Memorial Day: be sure to take a moment to reflect on those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our values.

And, to those who observe: best wishes for Ramadan.

I think that Memorial Day and APA Heritage Month make for an interesting combination.  It’s more than enjoying the unofficial start of summer, but to reflect and consider people who don’t always get remembered.

Consider: NBC News Asian America has an interesting article by Lakshmi Gandhi, profiling Hazel Ying Lee, “Remembering Hazel Lee , the first Chinese-American Female Military Pilot.” She was one of two Asian-American women who were WASPs, when WASPs weren’t necessarily considered part of the military, and when civilians wondered if Chinese people were the Japanese enemy.

Or consider this NPR item, which aired on “All Things Considered”: “Don’t Say ‘Thank You for Your Service’ This Monday,” as we recognize that those who served are part of the diverse fabric of American life – and they do what they believe in, not to be thanked, and because we should remember their friends who didn’t get to come home.

I also tend to think that Americans have lost sight of the meaning of both Memorial Day and Veterans Day (aka Armistice Day, aka the day that World War I ended). While you should enjoy the day, it’s not as simple as saying “Have a Happy One,” when there ought to be more reflection or service involved.

(and as for how we treat those who served, served, and survived – well, that’s another issue, but it’d be nice if we can do better for them; like the article says, saying thanks is nice, but it’s not an end in and of itself).

And, bearing in mind that Memorial Day was once Decoration Day, it’s also about tending to the tombs and paying respect.  I liked this item over at NPR, about a man’s project to clean the headstones of World War I veterans.

“Perhaps not imagining a face of an individual is a product of the military culture, one that simply relied on trusting the members of your team, regardless of where they came for or what they looked like. And perhaps seeing the green, blue, white, tan, or khaki uniform is all I really needed to know because people of all races, creeds, color, and religions have fought for our country.” — Art delaCruz.

delaCruz’s moving essay over at NBC News Asian America is worth a read. In our current charged political climate (then again, when is it not charged?), perhaps it’s more important than ever to reflect on the diversity and commonality of our armed forces and how that represents all of us.  A lot of food for thought.

APA Stuff to Consider, or Spring 2017 Begins

There is still snow on the ground, even though it is melting.

Worthwhile items about Chinese Americans over at NPR, from last week: gentrification of Chinatowns.  When an immigrant community’s next generation assimilates or moves on, or there are changes in the types of jobs available, a community will change. But, gentrification in terms of race and class – that’s not exactly comfortable stuff.

The story of the Delta Chinese, as fascinatingly portrayed on NPR, is sort of a contrast to the gentrification of Chinatown. It isn’t quite about displacement by class and race, but the evolution of immigration and society is something to remember and reflect on. (btw – definitely worth reading this NPR item, along with the other NPR item on gentrification of Chinatowns).

The NPR item on gentrification of Chinatowns, notably, quoted Peter Kwong, Hunter College professor, and Asian American studies pioneer, who observed that New York City’s Chinatowns may be the last stand of a working class, viable Chinatown.  Sadly, Kwong passed away last Friday, as announced in the news.  (h/t Asian American Writers’ Workshop‘s Facebook page post).  Things to think about, as we consider the history of Chinese in America, and how do we go forward.


TV Observations

From March 10: Happy 20th tv series premiere anniversary, Buffy. You saved the world a lot. (ok, I’m paraphrasing the line from one of the season finales – the third or fourth one? The one of many where Buffy sacrifices herself? The tone was just the right tone).

Thank you, Joss Whedon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the rest of the Scooby team of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

I realized that it was the 20th anniversary when A.V Club featured their Buffy Week special. Check it out. A lot of good stuff.

And, goodness, I’m old. I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years?

Entertainment Weekly posted on Sarah Michelle Gellar’s thanks via Twitter, to the fandom for their support.

Vox ranked the episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Constance Grady over at Vox wrote on the subversiveness of Buffy’s feminism. I thought it was interesting how Grady noted that Buffy, the very feminine ex-cheerleader, was very much the beholder of what was the traditional masculine protagonist’s burden of saving the world. And, if I remembered one of the key Slayer mythos episodes correctly, as the slayer, she shook off being chained to the male Watchers (while acknowledging the familial bonds to at least Giles, the senior Scooby member).

David Sims over at The Atlantic wrote on how Buffy, the tv series, was the pioneer of the current Golden Age of tv storytelling – that whole balance of serialization and Monster Of The Week stuff was because of Buffy (in fact, I think “Monster Of The Week” was because of Buffy the tv series, either because tv critics or fans referenced to that, or the producers themselves acknowledged that).  I thought that this article was a fascinating look at television history, anyway.

Here’s where I talked about the series finale of Buffy, through the lenses of an episode of “Angel” (which, yes, if you watched the Buffy series, you should watch “Angel.”).

Speaking of television, lately, it seems like I watch just two shows: “Elementary” (oh, the craziness that constitutes the adventures of Holmes and Watson) and “Legion.”  I’ll have to post separately on “Legion,” but talk about odd storytelling.  It’s tied to the X-Men, but I’m still not sure how or when, if ever, that this will be shown or told.  It’s just been strangely compelling to watch, for me, anyway.

Over at an interesting post by Timothy Harvie, a philosophy and ethics professor, on the importance of friendship in Star Trek. (I really do not read items that reference Aristotle. Not since college, anyway, and the reference in there to Aristotle – weirdly interesting). Come to think of it, the old ST episodes of McCoy and Spock being ridiculously nasty to each other (strange how I don’t realize how ridiculous they were until I really pay attention) is such a big difference from how they become in the movies – when Spock sacrifices himself for McCoy, McCoy carries Spock’s soul, and Kirk keeps trying to balance them – the evolution of friendship is real.

Actually, one of the biggest morals of ST is how friendship is the biggest and best thing of all (because the things we do for our friends…).

To be even broader: television tends to show how friends become family – how or ties to each other may help rather than hurt us.  Well, good dramatized fictional tv, anyway.  (I do not have an analysis for what we’re supposed to derive from so-called reality television).  Ultimately, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff, “Angel,” showed how friends working together overcome challenges, whether it was getting through high school, growing up, and maybe saving the world.  The universe of Buffy, much like Star Trek, ends up impacting the fandom – and hopefully has brought people together.

See? Television isn’t all that bad.