Wednesday, November 22, 2006
That said, my most recent column at SFGate was occasioned by the release of the annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue of People magazine, which included the usual suspects (e.g. George Clooney, who was dubbed the year's most delicious living dude for the second time, joining Brad Pitt and Richard Gere as the only such double dippers).
So here's the thing: In 21 years of crowning kings of schwing, there's been just one nonwhite honoree: Denzel Washington. Is this something that should bug us? Or is this even a question we need to be asking at this point in our collective cultural lives?
Daddy in a Strange Land shared his opinion to me that even raising the discussion essentially buys into the troubling notion that worth is related to attractiveness: "I'm not naive and I'm not living in a cave somewhere, I know that that's the real world, but as an anti-racist, feminist father of color married to a woman of color and raising a daughter of color, I have to ask, are we asking the right questions, challenging the right definitions?"
Which I certainly agree with. But as much as I want to reframe attractiveness according to a different set of criteria (like, it wouldn't suck if "slightly chubby 38-year-old men with glasses, goofy hair, and mediocre fashion sense" became the new gold standard for masculinity), we deal with this kind of thing every day.
There are real consequences—as Ingrid Olson of the University of Pennsylvania found in a gloom-inducing experiment earlier this year, attractive people get associated with positive traits that lead to better treatment. And this was born out in a study by a team from Harvard and Wesleyan: good-looking people are perceived to be more productive and better hires. (Why top-tier liberal arts colleges are spending so much time and money researching hotness is a whole 'nother question...)
Which explains in part why, consciously or not, we pride in having our boys, girls, and babies dubbed cute by others—there are real utilitarian consequences to cuteness. My son is billions of times cuter than I am (or was at his age), and I light up every time I hear someone compliment him on his cute-osity. People can come up to me and say, "Dude, you reek, but your son is gorgeous," and I'll flash a huge grin and thank them (and credit Hudson's mom with the hottie genes, of course).
Is it icky to think this way? Kind of. I mean, it's bad enough that I'm feeling all of those cliche, suffocating Asian parent academic agenda items starting to float into my forebrain—Is he hitting all of his developmental milestones? When should we start him on violin? SATs—study now, or wait until he's four?—but I also find myself wanting him to be the suave, athletic, toe-curlingly good-looking guy that I never was, or aspired to be.
And yeah, I hope we get to a point in our reality where attractiveness isn't just a set of washboard abs or a sculpted set of cheekbones. (Thus, my campaign to push Masi Oka to the top of People's "hottest Heroes castmember" poll—little victories still count for something.)
But the reality of what physical appeal means in our society is still out there. Which means there is meaning, however shallow it seems, in getting society to recognize our particular looks, features, and distinguishing characteristics as part of its benchmark for beauty.
For the record, however, the Rice Daddies I've been lucky enough to meet are as impressive a buffet of smokin' male hotness as I've ever seen. And the kids? Peep the pics for yourself. So cute, you could just die.
It's an award-winning cherry-red two-seater with molded-in cupholders (for juice boxes and sippy cups). Plus, it's plastic, which means I won't kill myself hauling it up hilly sidewalks.
Last night, while holiday shopping online, I considered purchasing the wagon on target.com. But after carefully examining the text on the Target website, I had some second thoughts. Do I really want to buy a wagon that's listed by the store under "Subjects: Religion & Spirituality: Occult"? Does it make sense to strap my kid into a piece of plastic that Target lumps together with other "Similar Items" like "NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES"?
The answer is still probably "yes." I'm a sucker for cupholders.
(In case the good folks at Target edit their page, a screenshot can be found here.)
Friday, November 17, 2006
I know I'm not the only one with a super cute Rice Baby. Now everybody get snapping!
Rice Daddies Flickr Pool
Monday, November 13, 2006
But it's all good... Right? I'm basically reading and writing blogs for a living, for our local newspaper's website, which is cool. Leaving a crying daughter at the nice daycare lady's house? Not so much. It'll get better, right?
So, all you working moms and dads out there, especially those of you who transitioned from being at home full-time, any tips for me? I mean, we just got back from a long-weekend trip and there's nothing in the fridge to cook for this week and I don't know when I'm gonna be able to go to the store, which The Pumpkin and I used to visit like three times a week in the middle of the day... And then there's the laundry... Heh. Anyway, the wisdom of your experience is much appreciated.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
As a Dad there are many things I fear now. Electricity, gravity, mechanical physics, chemistry (acids bases clorox drinking drano etc etc) but what really scares the crap out of me is Karma. I think back to when I was a kid and I imagine my one and only Son doing half the crap I did and I think holy holy holy crap I'm a dead man. I know you cannot protect your children from the world...and as frightening as it is, your kid will go out there and explore it...ride it. Bask in it. Smile at its beauty as well as it's wickedness. And they will inhale...deeply, everything it offers. And this is good and also really really crazy. And through all the drugs, violence, despair, hope, beauty and redemption that I called youth there is one shining moment of absolute depravity/wackiness that stands out in my mind and send shivers down my spine. Its somewhat unique to the Korean American experience...yes folks I'm taking about Summer at Yonsei.
Now everyone had a different Yonsei experience. Some recall a good enriching summer filled with Korean culture, history, and language development. But when I think back at my two tours of Korean summer programs...I can only describe it as Lost in Translation meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Now I know there are a grip of you reading this that are smiling right now because you remember being there. For those of you who have never heard of the Korean Summer Program let me give you a brief intro.
Step 1. Take a bunch of Korean Americans from many different cities around the world but especially Los Angeles and New Jersey.
Step 2. Put them in a Dorm at Yonsei University in the middle of Seoul.
Step 3. There is no step three.
Wackiness ensues. For a lot of these kids, this event occurs during the summer between High School and Harvard oops I mean college. This is the first summer many of these brainiac Asians have not had to worry about getting into college for the first time in their life. Add alcohol, drugs, clubs and an fun city straight out of Bladerunner into the mix and you get what I call good times. Most of it consisted of trying to pick up chicks with my broken Korean which makes Borat's English sound like MetroDad's posts.
Henri: Hey girl, I American. You know Hip Hop? I'm do Dancing like Running Man? Hip Hop Number 1.
Local Girl: I am a Korean Airlines.
Henri: Cool. Whisky drink fun times right?
Local Girl: Your friend like me? We go fast to tomorrow?
Henri: Rock on. I have no idea what the hell you're talking about.
It really is unfair to unleash a group of kids onto a city with lax drinking age laws and a great public transportation system. Add the fact that most kids are loaded up with Korean "Pocket Money" from relatives that have never seen them before and you get a wicked combination. Basically its a primer on how to party like rock stars right before going off to college. But amongst the idiocy there are some redeeming aspects. Your kids learns how to make friends fast. Your kid comes back saying "Mad" a lot. Your kid picks up smoking. Your kid learns how to drink. Wait, crap these are all bad things...ok it is a unique introduction to freedom and decision making. Hmmm it was really fun and unique. I think that pretty much sums it up. But I'm pretty sure there is no way in hell I'm going to send any of my kids there. I want boring kids who aren't interested in partying. I want them to love studying. Sigh. Who am I kidding, I am doomed. I remember my favorite response when I got into trouble as a kid...I am but my father's son. If I was raised in a religious family it would have been...I am but God's finger. And now I am bracing for the same smarmy smart-ass response from a kid who just doesn't know how much I worry about his safety and future. But I know, deep deep in my bones, some things in life you have to learn the hard way. Life is shiny beautiful and very very sharp...you've got to let your kid handle it eventually. But for any of you that have been to Yonsei, Love Boat or the other variations of this summertime rite, would you ever send your kids there?