Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Motel/Red Doors DVD Giveaway: Talk Smack About Your Momma

Today is a landmark day in indie Asian American film--not only is Mike Kang's The Motel out on DVD, but today marks the release of Georgia Lee's Red Doors on DVD as well. While very different, both films tell stories that revolve around issues of family, identity, and the parent-child relationship.

In celebration of these two films, Rice Daddies has teamed up with Kimchi Mamas for a special contest giveaway. To win one of five super prize packs that includes one copy of The Motel DVD and a poster signed by its cast and one copy of Red Doors with accompanying poster, this is what you do:

Since we're always talking dad stuff here, we're gonna switch things up a bit. In the comments to this post, tell us your funniest story about your mom. One entry per person, please--but you can go over to Kimchi Mamas and tell your funniest story about your dad there for a chance at one of 5 identical prize packs.

You have from now until midnight PST this Friday night to enter both contests. (Make sure you give us your e-mail in the comment form.) Winners will be chosen via random drawing this weekend (probably by my daughter pulling names out of a hat, or a bag, or a box, or some other toy strewn across my living room floor), and no, you can't win at both sites. We'll announce the winners on Monday, along with a little something else....

See, to make things a little more interesting, there's a contest within this contest. Between the Rice Daddies and the Kimchi Mamas, whichever site has the most entries is the winner. What happens to the loser? The losing blogteam has to supply three of its contributors to write their most embarassing parenting moment for publication on the winners' site. So, since I know you wanna see City Mama or Eliaday spill the beans right here on Rice Daddies, y'all better get crackalackin'!

Special thanks to Michael at Blanc de Chine films and Deborah at Palm Pictures for making this contest possible!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

AirTran Pwns Toddler Toting Parents

Dear AirTran,

Finally an Airline that gets it. Bravo to you AirTran air. I read about the family that was properly put in their place this morning for being unable to control their three year old child prior to take off. I have never understood the nerve of those people who think that it is perfectly acceptable to burden an entire plane full of people with their unruly children. I have been on flights where these children have cried consistently for over 3 hours while I was trying to get a little sleep on my business flight. I earn over 6.1 figures a year, these children as far as I can tell are unemployed, from a social benefit point of view, my contribution to society is far greater than theirs and I deserve my rest in order to earn more money. If it was so important to transport your children by aircraft then perhaps these “parents” should have made up their mind on where in the United States they wanted to live before they had children. Some of us actually PLAN things in advance, and in some cases plan well. Maybe this family should have moved to Florida before their child err I mean unemployed child, was born. The sense of entitlement that some of these parents have is absolutely mind-numbing. Seatbelts are on a plane for a reason. Hello, welcome to America. I don’t know how they do it in Germany or Istanbul or Rwanda or Madagascar or England but in our country we do not allow children to roam free and tackle our airplane pilots in mid-flight. The seatbelts are meant to protect the other passengers from air-born children. The audacity of the mother to think that she could simply hold her child on her lap! What if we hit an armadillo on the runway and the child flew over a few seats and landed on my Treo disabling it?! Of course I would not know it was disabled until I turned it on when it was appropriate according to the RULES of airplanes in America! Although I do not have any children of my own, nor do I have any experience with children at all, I am sure that I would be able to control a little three year old. I would have explained in simple English to the child the FAA rules of flight before we had left the house. This way the child would have understood what was expected of them and then not been confused while on the plane. Also, if for some reason the child did begin to try and cause trouble I would have done what any parent with the tiniest shred of common sense would have done. I would have told the child to Stop. Hello. Does that sound difficult to you Mr. and Mrs. Parent? Try saying Stop. You don’t have to be a genius to be a parent, but you do have to use your brain a tiny bit. Although I have never flown AirTran, I would like to commend you and the rest of the Tran family for laying down the law. I agree wholeheartedly that a flight already delayed 15 minutes (due to uncontrollable Airline related circumstances) could not and should not be delayed any further in order to allow a parent to try to soothe their child in a manner that they felt was appropriate. You have my business from now on.

All Business


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Asian Americans: Do We Give Enough?

I consider myself lucky. I mean, really blessed. I'm reasonably healthy, I have a wonderful wife and the best three-year-old son in existence (the kind of kid that inspires Craigslist-type superlatives: "fabulous! mint! must see!"). And as far as income goes, we're doing pretty well—certainly better than I've done most of the rest of my adult life, largely spent as a journalist, a nonprofit staffer, and an ethnic media entrepreneur...three professions that tend to put you closer to the government cheese than the cheddar. We own real estate. And a nice hybrid car. We even have some savings.

Now, I've supported nonprofits regularly in my life, but generally at the gala benefit ticket/silent auction level. You know—situations where you give a little something, get a little something. Pretty standard philanthropy for the youngish urban professional.

That said, I don't think I've ever attended a benefit where someone at the table didn't grouse about the crappiness of the food, the squalor of the decor, or the mediocrity of the entertainment. (What did you expect—Cirque du Soleil?) And as for silent auctions...don't get me started. Bottom line: If you're trying to raise funds, stimulating the Asian American bargain-hunting reflex ain't the most efficient mechanism.

Which brings up this article in today's New York Times: Class Divide in Chinese Americans' Charity. The article focuses on how there's a wealthy set of Chinese Americans that's actively giving to charitable causes...but the causes they're supporting tend to be causes already supported by the wealthy set: Art museums. Operas. Ballets.

They're not, generally, giving to social service organizations, civic advocacy groups, or other institutions that help those in need—and they're not, generally, giving to Asian American-specific causes. Says Virginia Lau-Kee of the Chinese-American Planning Council, probably the largest social services organization supporting elders, immigrants, and children in Manhattan's Chinatown: “We’re out of their orbit....We get donations from poor people that we’ve helped. We don’t get donations from the rich, who should be helping the poor.”

Worse yet, the article cites a 2004 paper written by Georgetown University Public Policy Institute fellow Andrew Ho suggesting that “many Chinese Americans do not give at all, and those that do, give to their university, or to their church, but not to ethnic causes.”

But there are those bucking the tide—mostly younger Asian American professionals, such as 34-year-old investment banker (and son of a waiter and a garment worker) Jimmy Pang, who has founded a "giving circle" called AsiaNextGen—a group of friends that pools their donations to directly and collaboratively support a different organization or initiative each year with an impact that solo donations might not obtain. In 2004, the initial five members each put $4000 into the pot, and gave $20,000 to the Queens Child Guidance Center to support the hiring of a social worker. They've continued this philanthropic pact on an annual basis, growing their membership, and funding a different initiative in the Asian American community per annum. (On a similar but more formal level, you also have organizations like Project By Project, which holds annual fundraisers and donates the proceeds to a different Asian American charity each year.)

My wife and I began giving on a larger scale this year (the kind where you write checks with more than two zeroes, but less than four—that's as heavy as we can afford to roll right now)—but I'm intrigued by this idea of pooled and targeted giving, and I'm wondering what the rest of you guys are doing by way of philanthropy, for those of you who are in a position to do so. Hey—maybe we could do an annual Rice Daddies/Kimchi Mamas fundraiser and donate a collaborative gift to an Asian American child-or-parent oriented nonprofit each year...what do you think?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Like Free Stuff: The Parent Bloggers Network and Me

Blogging's an interesting game. Some folks are content to write about their cats for an audience of 2 [that is, if they really believe their mothers whent they tell them that they're reading it, even though they never put any comments], and some folks have devoted followings clicking thru thousands of times a day. Most of us are somewhere in between, reading and commenting and linking in our little corner of the blogosphere—say, the parenting blogs—and remaining blissfully unaware that some of our better-known compatriots *cough* MetroDad *cough* are getting free stuff sent to them by companies who just want them them write about them, good, bad, indifferent.

Since Rice Daddies launched almost a year ago, we've gotten a couple e-mails from the makers of Asian-themed children's books or whatever, hoping we'd mention their products. [Hint: if you want us to review something, you gotta send us the actual thing you want us to review.] But alas, no unbidden portable DVD players or anything like that. But now, for all the regular schmoe parentbloggers who want the hook-up and just don't know how to work it, comes The Parent Bloggers Network. It's the brainchild of hapa mom and blogpreneur extraordinaire Kristen Chase, she of Motherhood Uncensored and Cool Mom Picks [who can't, you know, just hang out, 9 months pregnant, waiting to have a baby, she has to start a new business or something], and acts as a coordinator between companies who want parentbloggers' reviews and parentbloggers who want free stuff but aren't getting any electronics magically sent to them without asking for it.

The current roster's full up right now, but I think I'm the only dad. Anyway, I've just put up my first review on daddy in a strange land, of our trip this past Saturday to Baby Loves Disco at the Knitting Factory-LA. Short version: we had a great time at this toddler dance party—baby-proofed nightclub, music that doesn't suck, snacks, toys in the chillout area, and a cash bar at 1 in the afternoon? What more could you ask for? [Besides that your usually danceaholic but now inexplicably shy daughter let you put her down on the dancefloor, that is.] Long version: see my review.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Project Golden Pig

As many of you guys know, this year is the Famous "Year of the Golden Pig". It only comes about every 600 years, and it is believed that any child born in this year will have a wealthy and successful life. My wife and I did not plan that our baby was going to be born this year, but it was by good fortune that we are. Currently, there are tons of couples right now trying to get pregnant so they can have their baby in 2007. They expect the average birth rate in Korea to increase by 10%.

Are we really that superstitious and believe in Chinese folklore. These couples who are trying have a few months to go before it will be too late. My friend is currently in that situation, and he calls their trying to get pregnant "Project Golden Pig". Supplies for "Project Golden Pig" are ovulation kit, man and woman naked and... I don't think I need to go into more detail. Do you all really believe in this stuff, and is anyone else out there working on "Project Golden Pig"?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Santa's Got a Brand-New Multi-Culti Bag

I've always been that friend or relative that you either love or absolutely hate around gift-giving time: I like to give books and "educational" stuff. Of course, that also means that I love to get those kind of presents too, and I hope The Pumpkin picks up that tendency from me. Here's a list of all the multi-culti and/or educational presents my toddlergirl received this Christmas (and no, they weren't all from me!):

The World Rhythms Kit by Latin Percussion's World Beat Kids.
The Pumpkin actually got three percussion sets this Christmas [and no, actually, I wasn't mad] and she loooves music, listening to it, dancing to it, making it. Now all she needs is a kiddie-sized taiko drum and some mini kulintang instruments. Heh.

The Wooden Sushi Bento Set by Melissa & Doug.
This thing is freakin' awesome. You know you want one. It comes with a cleaver you use to "cut" apart the velcro'd-together maki pieces. The Pumpkin loves this thing. [She has way too many food-oriented toys. Heh.]

"Little Daruma and Little Kaminar: A Japanese Children's Tale by Satoshi Kako
Cute retelling of a Japanese folk tale, haven't really read it to her yet, but brought back found memories of my childhood copies of "Momotaro the Peach Boy" and "Little One-Inch."

"Bee-Bim Bop!" by Linda-Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
She looooves this book. We read it several times a day, and she's already reading along with the rhymes.

"Yoko" by Rosemary Wells
I find this one a bit problematic, and wonder if it would have turned out different if it had been written by an Asian American author. This little Japanese American cat takes sushi to school and gets ridiculed. Her mom wears a kimono at home--um, how many Japanese immigrant women of child-bearing age in this country are wearing kimonos? Yeah, thought so. And the teacher's solution to the teasing? No real intervention, no telling kids to stop or that they're wrong--no, it's to have an international food fair! And still only one other kid eats the sushi...

"Old Turtle" by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee
Beautiful book given by The Pumpkin's compadres, about tolerance and diversity and peace.

Okay, so the next three actually were from us:

"Skin Again" by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka
A children's book about racial difference, by bell hooks, illustrated by the guy who did one of The Pumpkin's earliest favorites, "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop"? Slam dunk.

"Jazz" by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Chris Myers
The text is a little too dense for her now, but it's a beautiful book (and I went to college with Chris).

"Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel by Anthony D. Robles, illsutrated by Carl Angel
She loves the first Lakas book, "Lakas and the Manilatown Fish," which asks for as "Fish." A children's primer on fighting the power, and it's bilingual in English and Tagalog.

Okay, this last thing was given by our good friends who also gave the sushi set, and they readily admitted that it was more for me than it was for The Pumpkin. This is what the picture accompanying this post is of:

"Pre-Cut Asian Family" by Little Folks Visuals, specialists in "making the highest quality felt sets available today." Not being a preschool teacher, I had no idea such a market even existed. Besides a bunch of bibilical play sets, nursery rhyme sets, and some science stuff, there's also an "African American Family," a "Caucasian Family," a "Hispanic Family," and you can get a set of all four, plus "community helpers" (firefighters, etc.). Heh. The best part of this, besides the strangely pharaonic helmet-hairdos on these folks, is the text on the back:

"The Choi family works hard to keep their busy household running smoothly. But they always make time for each other...and their new dog. Create adventures that explore the responsibilities and joys of family with the Chois."

C'mon, everybody who lives in LA's Koreatown knows that that dog should be a freakin' jindo or something. Chows are so 2 decades ago. Heh.

So, multi-culti mamas and papas, besides the racially ambiguous Bratz dolls that your clueless cousin gave your babygirl, and that are, even as we speak, setting back feminism 50 years as they sit in your closet awaiting their return to Target, what fun-and-education loot did your kiddos pull in this pan-denominational-holiday-gift-giving season?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

First Baby of 2007 is Asian American—and Already Being Excluded...

I don't know if you guys have heard about this story; I just saw it myself in today's New York Times. (And for those of you who read my mailblog Instant Yang, yeah, this is kind of a recycled post. But topical!) Here's the gist: At the end of last year, Toys 'R' Us announced a heavily hyped contest to bestow a $25,000 savings bond on the first American baby born in 2007. Doctors and hospitals were encouraged to submit candidates (with the winning hospital getting a $10,000 grant to be used for prenatal education programs). But when Yuki Lin, the midnight-born daughter of two restaurant workers from Brooklyn, NY, won a draw to break a three-way tie, contest officials declared her entry invalid--because her mother is not currently a legal resident of the U.S.

The stipulation of legal residency was made in the fine print of the contest rules, and of course, Toys 'R' Us is perfectly within its rights to enforce it; most contests, though not, it seems, state lotteries, have similar legal residency requirements, though arguments have been made that the winner wasn't Mrs. Lin, but her daughter, who is undeniably a U.S. citizen. (Except to the woman whose baby ultimately was awarded the prize, who declared herself and her child "100% American" and stated that "the baby of an illegal alien is an illegal alien," even if the law says otherwise. (Heck, Mexican American U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admits that he himself may be the grandson of undocumented immigrants.)

Yuki and her parents have become something of a cause celebre among Chinese Americans, who've been circulating a petition and pointing out that voiding her victory is another sign of the U.S.'s increasingly toxic attitude towards immigrants of all backgrounds and statuses. Coming on the heels of last year's dramatic protests and abortive reform debates, one wonders how much more frequently we'll be seeing this kind of issue rear its head. Well, one doesn't wonder; one is absolutely sure that—like 70-degree days in the dead of winter—we'll be seeing a lot more of these issues arising in the near future.
Update: So, yeah, Toys 'R' Us not only backed off, they decided to provide three $25K gift cert prizes—one for each of the babies born at midnight on January 1, 2007: Yuki, born at New York Downtown Hospital in Manhattan, Yadira Esmeralda, born at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, on Long Island; and Jayden Swain of Gainesville, GA. Which, by the way, means they inadvertently scored a multicultural trifecta: Asian American, Latino, and African American. Now, if only they'd realized this and made the decision from the outset, they could have parlayed this into major New American Mainstream goodwill. As it is, this was a good, but late, save that probably still has some Chinese Americans feeling a bit ornery.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sympathetic weight???

I never knew what sympathetic weight was until now. My wife and I were comparing both our bellies recently, and while she is 26 weeks now, I think I measure about 28 weeks. How in the world did this happen, and do all soon to be dad's go through this. Of course this all comes from the diet. When she wants to eat a late night meal, I get to eat what she does not finish. She does not want to go to the gym anymore so I don't go either. I know she has an excuse for gaining weight, but I have none unfortunately.

So I decided to buy her one of those pregnancy and being fit workout videos. There are a ton of studies showing the benefit of exercise for pregnant women, like relieving back pain, improving constipation, improving the labor experience, and post pregnancy recovery. She has been doing those workouts. Trying to be the supportive husband that I am, I decided to join her. Can I just tell you how ashamed I am. The workout is about 20 minutes with an annoying teacher saying things like "show off those sexy legs" and "Use those abds and hug the baby". The rest of the ladies behind her doing the workout are pregnant at different stages. When we do the mambo and cha cha move, its game over for me at that point since I have 2 left feet. I think I lasted 10 minutes before I almost collapsed in exhaustion. What's up with that? These pregnant ladies including my wife being able to have more endurance than me. I think I will create a video for men of pregnant women. It will incorporate exercises that will help to get up and down from the couch, raise pizza to the mouth, remind the guy not to say yes when his wife asks if she is getting fat, and to remind him to tell his wife she is sexy while pregnant, and the video will also have some women yelling profanities at you to harden you up when the actual labor comes. Lots of videos for pregnant women, but not many for the man that I know of.

Like alot of people, I have determined to lose this weight before the baby comes. Any tips?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Soccer Dad: Watch Out For That Couch!

Hope everyone's holidays went well! Here's a lil clip of Maceo and his cousin Jaden enjoying their time at their halmoni's house...until Mace meets the business side of the couch.

(UPDATE 1.4.2007: It should be right side up now!)

SD (who is walking good and awaiting surgery to remove the ankle screws in early Feb)