Sunday Comics

This past week’s “Doonesbury” and today’s edition (wherein B.D. continues his recovery (if there’s such a thing as “recovery”) in losing his leg) – has been great stuff. B.D.’s young daughter doesn’t quite understand what happened to her dad, the leg and helmet gone. Even B.D. wonders – geez, what did happen to the helmet? 😉

(my previous comments on the B.D. storyline)

I do think that Garry Trudeau has done a nice job showing how B.D.’s progress – or the fact that B.D. is still just trying to deal with it – like today’s instance, where the occupational therapist is running B.D. through a model kitchen to get used to living life again.

Therapist asks: “For example, what if your wife asks you to remove the trash can from under the counter? What’s your strategy?”

B.D.: “I say, ‘You do it. I lost a leg in Iraq.'”

Deadpanned Therapist: “No, I mean bio-mechanically.”

Ok, B.D. needs a little work here. But, he’ll get there.

I don’t like what’s happening to the “Annie” comic strip – and this has been going on the past four years now. Annie back in her 1970’s to 1990’s incarnation under comic strip artist Leonard Starr was fascinating. Starr didn’t have the libertarian/conservative/nationalist bent that Annie’s original creator Harold Gray had, but Starr knew how to craft characters and stories. Annie would wander the country trying to look for Daddy Warbucks; Warbucks would be obviously missing his daughter, but was caught up in protecting her or dealing with his multi-billion company; their poignancy was strikingly apparent.

During the final years of Starr’s work, Annie was trying to catch up on her education and recognizing that her dad has some seriously unresolved love affairs (Angela, who had her naternal feelings for Annie but had to get over her abusive husband, and that Russian spy, who saved Warbucks’ life from hypothermia using her… um… body warmth); Punjab, Warbucks’ sidekick/bodyguard/wise man, was passing the duties to his teenager nephew, Punjee – who was dealing with the burden of those duties (which meant sacrificing a love interest and a mainstream life); and even the Asp, the other bodyguard/wise man, had to deal with the fact that his niece, Stella Han, was a serious villain (putting aside that Han was the stereotyped Asian Dragon Woman, who was hardly attractive and had issues about her uncle). Stuff like that.

The new cartoonists (or at least the writer, a Daily News writer who has new cartoonists working with him every year) aren’t quite as good. Annie hasn’t been her vibrant self in so long – it’s this fake version of her (Annie was a tough but not stupid kid; these days, she’s just… I just don’t get it). Warbucks has been reduced to being a seriously absent dad who’s only goal is to serve the War Against Terrorism. In fact, the writers of the comic strip’s current incarnation are back in the political commentary mode (I mean, please, spare me the not-very-veiled political stance about the terrorism problems; villains say their lines like “We will not be able to hurt the Americans, no thanks to Warbucks. Curses!”). And, while it’s nice that Annie now has an ethnic female role model/guardian, Amelia Santiago (a Cuban-American pilot), I do miss Punjee and other characters. If the Asp and Punjab make any appearances these days, they’re Noble Minority Characters/Warriors, Serving The War Against Terrorism. There’s no mention of recurring characters like Huff, Warbucks’ gruff lookalike bodyguard, who was a softy to Annie underneath his gruff demeanor; Ezra Eon, the genius professor who still talked like a hick; Dermot, the cute young man (who Annie may or may not have had a crush on) who was too busy with the computer programming stuff to get a love life; etc. The absolute crime for a comic strip is to have average or even bad writing. The guys behind the current Annie should actually go back and read the past 20 years of Annie and figure it out. (and one of these days, I’ll write to the Daily News and tell them to do so). “Annie” is missing the richness she used to have.

I’ll stop now. Enjoy the work week.

What is a “Banana” – Here and There?

This short article was posted on one of the Forumosa forums for discussion. Not sure what to say about it but offer it as an interesting juxaposition between the Asian American experience in the US and the Asian American experience in Taiwan.

You take the people from a AA forum like Model Minority who see the world with tunnel vision who are no better than the “ugly” Americans they like to blast away for their “plight”. Then, you have the author of


, who gets insulted by his treatment because the natives here can’t believe some one like him can exist. “Marginalization” is indeed color-blind :|.

Unfortunately for the author, his article devolves into a poorly sarcastic rant which takes away from the opportunity to do something with it. On the other hand, if I were in his shoes, what exactly would I say about it? I mean, our uniqueness, is something that can’t easily be explained or described. Being an ABC in Taiwan makes the world even stranger. At least the Angry Asian American[tm] has status in the US, whereas the status in Taiwan is lower. The one way to avoid that is to position yourself as a “meiguo huaqiao” and you gain immediate status. However, that’s not always easy if you don’t have someone “in front” of you to make the necessary introductions.

In the meantime, I have learned my lessons and come up with my own survival rules. Survival Rule No. 1 is: let people know you are a meiguo huaqiao! Survival Rule No. 2: don’t ever be mistaken for a Korean! Survival Rule No. 3: use English only! In order to come across as a meiguo huaqiao, it is necessary to speak English as much as possible even if it causes cognitive dissonance.

When I first came to Taiwan, my cousin here insisted that I follow these exact rules to enhance and perserve my “status” to the locals. Only in this way would I be able to successfully position myself for business opportunities. The minute I deviate from this formula, I would be “lowered” in the business person’s eyes.

Side note: Cool website for spelling


I can’t stay away from blogging, can I?

I mentioned “Dukes of Hazzard” in my Thurs. post; Yahoo has this AP article about the so-called Dukesfest, which celebrated 25 years of the Dukes of Hazzard. Apparently, the cast showed up, except for the actors who played Boss Hogg and Uncle Jesse (both passed away over the years); plus Tom Wopat and John Schneider (the ex- Bo and ex-Luke – the actual “Dukes of Hazzard” – who were reportedly not at this festival “because they were performing elsewhere,” according to the article).

Personally, I think that a true reunion or celebration of the show isn’t quite a celebration without the two stars themselves, and people should at least understand their feelings of not wanting to be more typecasted than they already are as the Dukes. (I read somewhere that Wopat and Schneider have resolved their feelings and actually are proud of their work as the Dukes, especially now that they’re in their middle age and appreciate that those days as the Dukes gave them an income and some fame – but it took years for them to get there – not to mention years of other good acting work; we ought to give them credit for that).

I say, celebrate your favorite shows, but not to extremes (that’s sort of how I feel about the Trekkies/Trekkers, and while I’m fannish about that the Star Trek franchise, I’d like to think that I’m even moderate about my fannishness (no, not a real word, probably, but it’ll do)).

Crazy news in NYC: “Escaped Tiger Ties Up Traffic In Queens.”

Dragon boating time…

NY Times’ website has posted the first of a series of articles on the widening gap between the rural poor and urban rich of China. This first article is incredibly sad: the Times’ Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley report the story of an 18 year old, a grandson of poor Chinese farmers, who apparently committed suicide when he couldn’t afford $80 to pay for a college entrance exam – he is killed when stepping in front of an oncoming railroad train. Kahn and Yardley poignantly note:

If his gruesome death was shocking, the life of this peasant boy… is repeated a millionfold across the Chinese countryside. Peasants…were once the core constituency of the Communist Party. Now, they are being left behind in the money-centered, cutthroat society that has replaced socialist China.

China has the world’s fastest-growing economy but is one of its most unequal societies. The benefits of growth have been bestowed mainly on urban residents and government and party officials. [….]

For the Communist leaders whose main claim to legitimacy is creating prosperity, the skewed distribution of wealth has already begun to alienate the country’s 750 million peasants, historically a bellwether of stability.

The countryside simmers with unrest… The poor demand social, economic and political benefits that the Communist Party has been reluctant to deliver.

To its credit, the Chinese government invigorated the economy and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty over the past quarter century. Few would argue that Chinese lived better when officials still adhered to a rigid idea of socialist equality.

But in recent years, officials have devoted the nation’s wealth to building urban manufacturing and financial centers, often ignoring peasants. Farmers cannot own the land they work and are often left with nothing when the government seizes their fields for factories or malls. Many cannot afford basic services, like high school.

Not a new thought on my part, but: what irony – the Communists who profess on paper about equality of classes cannot maintain true equality of opportunity in trying to change the way they used to do things. Life is always complicated.

Travel section of the NY Times has this nice article on the doings of visiting NYC these days – in preparation for those visiting Republican conventioneers, I guess (do the Republican conventioneers read the NY Times? Well, I guess the article’s actually for anyone reading the section). (and, yeah, “conventioneer” likely isn’t a real word, but whatever). Times’ writer Randy Kennedy makes a nice point that NYC isn’t exactly conducive for conventions (i.e., the fact that Jacob Javits convention center is in the middle of nowhere on the West Side – at least some blocks away from hotels and subways – they really ought to have extended the crosstown subway over there or else build a decent hotel over there).

(yet another sidenote: Javits’ location makes it a suitable place for the NYS bar exam, I guess. Ah, I still recall how, not very long ago, I left it thinking that I really don’t want to be there to take another bar exam. Relief for not being there since… – must be the trauma).

Kennedy also notes the Staten Island Yankees and their stadium facing the Lower Manhattan skyline are great stuff. Sure, but being the hometown person, I prefer the Cyclones in Coney Island – although, Kennedy makes the excellent point that the Cyclones are usually sold out, so you take your minor league games where you can find them (I had no idea that the SI Yankees weren’t nearly as often sold out as the Cyclones. What does that say about them? [oh, apologies to any Staten Islanders out there – I mean no offense. No, really.]).

At least the ferry ride to SI is free and is a nice ride on a nice day. But, I do recommend going to a Cyclones game – at least, if you know someone who stood on a line at Keyspan Park all morning to get them.

So it goes. Now, don’t be surprised if you find me back later on Sunday; it’s like I can’t stop blogging (yeah, I really ought to get back to those other things that I do)…