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Thursday, February 19, 2009


Measure Twice, Cut Once (or how not to tell a joke)

So maybe you haven't heard, but some cartoonist had a poor idea for a joke, and the NY Post printed it. Or maybe you did hear about it, but, like me, didn't hear about Travis the chimp until after reading about the ill-judged cartoon. And like me, maybe you got into conversations about it with friends; and also like me, maybe you were slightly surprised (or maybe not so) to hear that some of them took more offense at Rev. Al Sharpton's outcry than at the cartoonist's poorly aimed satire.

I agree that Al Sharpton has made himself into an opportunist who jumps at any chance to sensationalize anything that comes anywhere near being racist, but I do believe that at the very least, the printing of this cartoon was in poor judgement, poor taste, and rather irresponsible.

The question was put to me, "What if the president were [sic] white would the cartoon be racist?"

If John McCain was the president, of course this wouldn't be racist. The context would be clear. There are those who feel that "the stimulus plan is so poorly written, a monkey could have written it." It's an old, hackneyed phrase that most people are familiar with, and the joke would be clear. But we have a black president, and the context becomes less clear because of our collective, cultural memory of blacks being equated with monkeys. Add to that the fact that many people believe Obama is the author of the legislation "that a monkey could have written", and the subject of the joke becomes even less clear. When people think of the poorly written bill, they don't think of Travis the chimp. They think of the man who's signature goes on it. And right about now, I think more people have the economy (and the man they are expecting to fix it) on their minds than a crazed chimp that had to be put down. If the cartoonist's intent was not racist, then it was a poorly executed joke, and I do not fault Al Sharpton for jumping to the conclussion that many Americans jumped to on their own.

Then I was asked, "If Bush were president and they made references to him being a monkey would it be racist?" If this cartoon was drawn during Bush 43's office, it wouldn't have been racist--but it would've been even more difficult to discern the subject of the joke, since he was already so often compared to a chimp for his ineptitude and appearance.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009


25 Things About Me That Will Take You All Day To Read

Originally uploaded by ebilflindas
(As posted on my Facebook page.)

25 Things

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I was "made" in Japan, born in San Francisco, and raised in San Diego.

2. When I was a kid, I suffered from debilitating vertigo. If I woke up on my right side or prone with my right ear to the pillow, I would have to spend the rest of the day with my head tilted to the right. Otherwise, my world would spin outta control. It was horrible, and remember being very small and wondering, "Why me?" The only remedy was to sleep it off. I went to the hospital several times to figure it out, but no one was ever able to figure it out, until we were introduced to an accupressurist/naturopathist, who determined it was a pinched nerve. I remember being in his clinic on Adams Avenue, the dimly lit 'examination' rooms decorated in Native American fashion (well before the whole 'Southwest-look' interior decorating craze), the soothing scent of smudge (burnt sage) and incense. He alleviated my vertigo that day, and I haven't suffered from it since.

3. I still play with Lego. But you probably already knew that.

4. You know the two sayings, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything," and, "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail"? Those were written about me.

5. I have countless reasons to believe I've had a charmed life, and am lucky to be alive considering some of the stupid/naive shit I've done. Like the time I tried to walk from Sampaloc to the Shangri-La Mall in Metro Manila, PI--at one point I was walking down a back street, off the main thoroughfare, when I was stopped by a couple guys who claimed to be police in plain clothes and a Toyota. Apparently they'd been following me because they asked me where I was going and why I was walking so fast and so far. They told me to empty my pockets. I showed them my passport, my money, and for some reason, I had two lighters. One of them thought that was odd, so he took it, and they let me go.

6. I jumped off a bridge into Mission Bay with a bunch of friends. I learned that night that, when jumping into water from a height, you should cross your ankles to keep your legs together. None of us considered whether it was low tide.

7. I've "fathomed hell and flown angelic". At the Grateful Dead show in Las Vegas in 1992, the one Sting opened for them. While Sting was performing "Every little thing she does is magic," I literally thought I wasn't coming back to reality, but rather than freak out, I surrendered to it, and I came back to my senses to enjoy the rest of the show.

8. There was a period of time when I was highly attuned to the moon, was in touch with my animal spirit guide, and felt pretty much in accord with the Tao, but that was a long time ago. I would really like to get back to that feeling/way of being, and to introduce my son to it.

9. I will rarely admit to being good at something.

10. With that said, I was once nationally ranked in taichi forms competition, and have won several medals in national and international taichi tournaments.

11. I earned my black belt in Kung Fu San Soo, and studied Bak Fu Pai, which I believe is related to Bak Mei Pai. Bak Mei is who Pai Mei, in Kill Bill 2, is based on, and is often depicted as a villain in kungfu movies/legends.

12. Ever since I was a kid, I've always given massages. Beginning with walking on my dad's back, to him showing me skin rolling and reflexology, to learning about accupressure from the guy I mentioned in #2, I grew up learning about alternative healing methodologies before they became anywhere close to even being seen by the mainstream. I eventually went to massage school in 1996, which marked the beginning of the time I described in #8. I always thought I gave good massages, but now I'm a professional!

13. I am a self-taught photographer. I caught the bug after my one and only trip to New York City. I had brought with me several disposable cameras and happily snapped away the whole trip. When I returned home, I was sorely disappointed by the pictures I had developed, and I vowed to learn more about photography. I borrowed a friend's Canon A-1 for a week, read books, took notes, and took a lot of pictures. At the end of that week, I decided it was something I wanted to pursue, so I purchased my first SLR, a Kalimar KX5000, at Nelson's in Little Italy. I carried that thing everywhere, and shot everything and anything I could, which reminds me of another stupid/naive thing I did.

14. Those of you who live or have lived in San Diego, you know when you're taking the 8 West and taking the ramp onto 5 North? If you look over to the right while you're still on the ramp, you can see some big graffiti pieces on the bridge pylons in the river bed. I'd always wanted to get a better look at them, so one day I parked my car near the Union-Tribune distribution center off of Morena Blvd, and made my way down to Friars Road, which runs along the San Diego river. Up and over the southern embankment, I found myself in another world. At one point, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I swear it was someone watching me, but ducking back behind the pylon just as I turned. I was slightly concerned, but continued on my way, undeterred, deeper into the reeds and tall grasses. As I made my way through the labyrinthine paths, I passed several hovels, meager dwellings beneath small willow-like trees and hollowed out thickets. It brought to mind the movie "Dark Days", the documentary about the people living in abandoned subway tunnels under NYC. A few days later, I was reading an story in the Reader about those very dwellings in the river bed, and how dangerous it can be down there. If I'd read that story first, there's no way I would have gone in there alone.

15. For the majority of you who've only reconnected with me here on Facebook, in case you didn't know, I am a single, full-time father. My son, Ren, is my raison d'être, the love of my life. I was never married, and no, his mother is not around. The rest of her family, however, is very much around, and we are very lucky to have them in our lives.

16. My apologies to those of you with delicate sensibilities, but my "dry spell" is on 3 years 2 months and counting.

17. I stopped listening to the Mikey Morning Show because of his support of Proposition 8, but have been listening again lately because I like a lot of their 'bits'. Plus a couple of the show members are Liberal, providing counter-point to his Christian Conservatism. I just switch the radio to KPBS when he starts in on his shit.

18. I wouldn't call myself a music-snob. Rather, I feel I've become desensitized by the immediacy and availability of music, such that something's really gotta be special to really turn me on.

19. I feel I have an aptitude for languages. During high school, taking French avec Madames Verte et Rustad, I got to the point that I was having dreams in French. And several years ago, I studied ASL (American Sign Language) for a year, and was beginning to dream in sign.

20. I have an ingrown hair in my right nostril right now, and it's bugging the fuck out of me. For real. (And he wonders why #16. Duh.)

21. The smell and taste of straight honey makes me want to vomit out of my eye holes, but I can handle a teaspoon or two in a good strong cup of Earl Grey.

22. I played keyboard and harmonica in a ska band called G-Spot. My last show with them was a pretty big one at SOMA, and in a retarded, wanna-be rockstar moment, I pulled off my band t-shirt and gave it to some girl in the front row. I wonder what's become of that shirt...

23. I am a recovering karaoke whore, and I secretly hate listening to other people take their turns while waiting for mine. But if I'm drunk enough, it's all good.

24. I never feel good enough (see #9) and greatly devalue myself, as in, I low-ball my business rates because it's hard for me to acknowledge my worth.

25. Although I talk like I hate these memes, and say that they remind me of "slam books" from elementary and jr. high school, this was actually a pretty good exercise, especially because I took all day to write it.

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