Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting Down to the Deep Foundation

With the release of their debut album, The First Draft, Deep Foundation is heating up stages across the US. I had a chance to catch up to them recently at the Asian Hip Hop Summit's AM Classic Hip Hop Showcase in N.Y.C.'s Public Assembly. ILL Poetik, MUG Shot, Proseed, and CJ spoke about the history, the inspirations, and the future of Deep Foundation.

How did you get started?

It started with us knowing each other from back in the day but we all started writing at the same time. Pros and I met and we started the whole writing thing around the same time. He met CJ and everybody else in the group and they were going out with friends from Queens and they were like 'Hey MUG Shot is dope and they were going to freestyle with us and we asked them to join our group. They lived in Jersey so it was friends first and became better friends and we started shows, college shows in New Jersey and became more serious.

Are going to stay in the area like New York and New Jersey or plan to branch out?

We've done stuff in Boston, Mid-Atlantic, and once our album comes out we will try to go back to the Mid-Atlantic and California, Southern California to the [San Francisco] Bay.

Are you doing more shows with other artists such as the AM Classic or your own shows?

We do both. Sometimes we put together our own show and someone will contact us to do an event or a showcase. We perform for colleges. Whatever represents us or we represent we want to be part of it. We don't do a show for the sake of doing a show and we want to be part of it.

Do you have any influences?

Each individual has his own influences. Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Biggie. Definitely Jay-Z has to be part of it, Mobb Deep, like the early 90's hip hop, Black Star. But we don't limit ourselves to underground or mainstream. Any dope hip hop is dope hip hop. Common, and Jay-Z like we said. Public. DMX. The first album was crazy!

Usually when I say influences I mean lyrics but do you have any influences for showmanship such as when Snoop Dogg hits the stage he takes over. Do you like any artist's style on stage?

It has to be high energy groups I would think because that's the type of hip hop we love. You'll be a stranger to their music or never heard of them but the moment they take the stage it's crazy, energized, it's infectious. Wu Tang, definitely Busta [Rhymes], cats with high energy. In terms of stage presence it has to be like those dudes. The Roots too. They always give audiences something new like a new remix of one of their songs.

What's your plans after the AM Classic?

We have an album set to come out in early October called The First Draft. Basically the story behind it is a lot of our songs have a lot of storytelling elements to it. It's like the whole c.d. is a book and since this is our first album it's the first draft of our story. It's supposed to come out early to mid-October. After that we are going to try to do a Mid-Atlantic tour and then the Cali tour to promote it. It features artists like Geologic and Bamboo. Some of those cool cats of the West Coast. Also has Hydroponikz, Kiwi and Illmind. We're trying to showcase talent of all kinds but especially Filipino, Asian-American.

Any recording contract in the works?

We're just rapping now. I think everyone would love to experience that but at the same time it's still fun because there's no one telling you what to do. It's all about you and exactly how you want it. It's also a learning experience. We've never done this before on this level, this professional level so we're learning every step of the way.


Non-T.W. images are courtesy of Michael Violago from his Deep Foundation Album Release Party Album. The First Draft is on sale now and can be purchased by visiting the D.F. MySpace:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Music From China at Library for the Performing Arts Dec. 6 at 3 pm

Traveler from Afar
Enjoy an afternoon of instrumental and vocal music with themes drawn from songs of Chinese folk and pop culture from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan
Please Stay Awhile
Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, 3 pm
Bruno Walter Auditorium
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC

Wang Guowei erhu, banhu
Patti Monson dizi, flute
Helen Yee yangqin
Yingying Cao zhongruan, sanxian, liuqin
Susan Cheng daruan
Joe Chou guitar
Amy Chen singer

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung Part 2

You touched on your writing and there is confusion. Did you write a song that someone else sang or did someone else write it?

The producers and writers that I work with have worked with these major artists. Frankie Storm who I wrote Pressure and At The Exit with her, she wrote some of Rihanna's music. I've been very fortune to work with her and Claude Kelly. He's been writing for Akon, Lady Gaga, Leona Lewis. All these huge names and I actually wrote the songs for my EP right before they got really huge! Now they're traveling around the world, they're so busy. It's hard for me to even meet up for lunch with them. It was a blessing work with them. They're incredibly talented and really nice people.

Are you going to split time between writing for yourself and writing for other artists?

Right now I'm just writing for myself. If I write a song that sounds like it would be great for someone else I would consider submitting it but right now I'm being kinda selfish [chuckle]. A lot of times people get caught up writing for other people and they forget about their own recording. Right now I've been writing a lot, trying to continue developing my sound and my style and also performing and promoting the music that I already have.

You love dancing and I had a chance to see you rehearse with Jason Lee.

I was traveling and performing a lot with Snacky Chan the rapper. Chan and I actually grew up together in South Jersey. We grew up in the same neighborhood like he was two streets away from me. He's a little bit older than me but we became friends through the music thing. Chan and I were doing a show in Toronto and Chan knows Jason so Jason came along. He helped us fine tune our performance. After that I hired Jason to do choreography and get dancers.

Before Jason you had someone else.

A friend from Columbia helped me out then Jason had this whole vision so I said 'ok fine Jason!' [chuckles]

The two women you had dancing with you, are they officially with you if you go on tour?

They're extremely professional. Lisa, she's danced with Shakira and toured around with her. Both of them have done all sorts of incredible things. Right now I haven't locked them in exclusively. It does get complicated because we travel a lot too. Even just setting up my Circle show I had to make sure my schedule matched the girls' schedule matched [CircleNYC owner] Joe's schedule so it was all working. I would like them to stay with me as long as possible. We'll see what happens. Like for my Chusok Festival I'm going to have to find someone else. ..... is going to be in L.A. It's not like a permanent thing but I love working with them. They're really sweet girls.

To stop some other confusion among some readers, your name is Chung which is known usually as a Chinese name but you are Korean?

Chung is a Korean name and Chinese. The original pronunciation is 'yuung' so sometimes you'll see some people spell it Jung. But yeah it's a Korean name. Actually I have relatives who are really famous classical musicians in Europe and Korea. The Chung Trio. They basically pioneered Korean love for classical music. The reason why Juiliard is like 90% Korean so music is in my blood even though both my parents are physicians [chuckles]. My dad was like the black sheep of the family because he was the only on who didn't go into music. He was in his punk rock band in college and medical school and briefly entertained the thought of going into a pop career then decided he wasn't creative enough so he went into medicine. Sometimes he would be very worried for me because he knows being a musician is a hard life. He knows that first hand but he also knows that if you're passionate about something you'll see it through. Once my parents gave me their blessing it was a lot easier for me to feel good about pursuing my career. [chuckles] So all this came from my last name being Chung!

I've seen some of the pictures featured on MySpace. Do you see yourself modeling?

I do some modeling. The tough part is for high fashion is you have to be 5'9". It's funny because this person who was sort of managing me at one point she was like 'Just go to all the agencies, to all the open calls. I don't care what they say about what the minimum height is! Just go and see what they say!' And as soon as I walk in the door 'How tall are you?! Minimum is 5'9"!' And it wouldn't even be like going through the door. I do commercial print modeling but that's a totally different kind of thing. It's normal people modeling. Also tv., film. Those are all in the future plans. Right now, since I'm so concentrating on music, I haven't been pursuing the acting hardcore but that's something. I see myself as a worldwide performer and do everything.

Would you like to talk about your E.P.?

The title is Face To Face. I realized that it was just a common theme running through my songs. Two of my songs actually have a line of 'face to face'. In all my lyrics I try to very assertive and honest. You'll never see me writing whiny, submissive 'why? why?' kind of songs. That's just not my personality. I'm not like a girl power kind of person but I believe that a woman should assert her opinion when she has something to say. I try to be very honest in my lyrics. Take You For Granted is probably the most honest song on there and that's the song I completely wrote myself. I wrote it on the piano and then brought it to the studio and laid down the track beats. And that song is partially religious. A lot of times there are people in our lives we only turn to them when we are really sad. That song is kind of an exposed look at being selfish and being able to admit it. The other songs are fun club songs as well as, I try to mix in little metaphors here and there. Some songs can be silly and simple but I don't them to be really dumb. [chuckles]

I'm very addicted to Pressure but you only have a snippet on MySpace.

People like Pressure and Ghost. It's always hard to know how much should I be putting out there because I want everyone to be hearing my music but then you don't want to overexpose music and leave a little bit of mystery. It gets confusing how much I should put up there and how much I should leave out.

I can imagine you in the future on WKTU with Danielle Bollinger and some of these other dance people.

Yeah I have a cool dance remix of Ghost on MySpace with a young producer, Joel Hirsch. Joel approached me through MySpace. He wanted to do a remix. He's really young and still in school but extremely talented. It worked out really well.

The following piece was done through emails.

I was thinking about different reactions or motions you had during the interview and realized, when you went to autograph the cds you flipped the marker around like a drummer spins a drumstick. Do you are play the drums or learning to play them? If so, can we expect some drum fun in your next album?

Haha the pen flipping is actually a habit that I developed in middle school after a friend showed me how. I went to a small school back then, so everyone in my grade saw me doing it and somehow became obsessed with twirling their pens in class. I ended up regretting it everyone was always twirling their pens and it was so distracting! Later, I noticed a lot of my Asian/Asian American friends do it, so I don't know where it first came from. Unfortunately I don't play the drums though...I wish I could!!

I would like to put in information about your dancers. Can you tell me their names, how long you've been working with them, where their from, etc?

The girls I've been dancing with are Stacy Hanson (the brunette) and Lisa Marie Cordoba (blonde). Another girl Laura Franco also danced with me recently, because Lisa was in LA. The girls are all really sweet and extremely professional, so hopefully I'll be with them for awhile.

Are there any specific forums and/or cities you'd love to perform in?

I can't wait until I start performing internationally, in Europe and Asia, and there are still US cities I've never been to, like Chicago! It's fun doing different types of shows...the bigger shows are more glamorous, but smaller shows are more intimate and you can talk to people after and interact on a more personal level.

Are there any stories you'd love to tell about your touring, producing, etc that fans might find very interesting to read?

Some of my funniest stories are actually from the random modeling things that I do. My agent sends me on a lot of commercial print castings, since I'm petite and can't really do a lot of fashion. Modeling is very different from being a recording artist, because it's about being someone else, not yourself. You have to fit a particular look or mold that the client is looking for. They want someone to sell Advil, for example. I'm such a diva, that sometimes I have trouble with that. I went to an ipod casting once and they wanted us to dance all crazy. So I thought "Yes!! This is something I can do!" We had numbers, so the lady said to me "Ok number 43, we want you to look less naked, so put on that sweatshirt." (I was wearing a tank top). "Ok dance!" So I'm dancing, and she's like "number 43!! Too sexy!! It needs to be more like MIA!" So then I start dancing like a nut, what I thought was like MIA. Suddenly she's like "Stop! ok, number 43 you can go home." So sad, I felt so rejected! Hahaha. You have to go on so many castings to book a job, it's very hit or miss.

Do you have any advice or tips for people wanting to go into the music world?

As everyone will tell you, pursuing a career in the music industry is not easy. I'm still learning new "do's and dont's" every day. There's a lot of mind games you have to play, and people that say they believe in you are not always telling the truth. Find people you trust and stick with them. Music is super fun at times, but very tricky and stressful at others. I tell people to be prepared to work your butt off. As an artist, stay acutely aware of the business aspects of your career. Trying to be a professional recording artist is a lot more than just singing in your room and trying out for American Idol. If you're truly passionate about what you do, you'll find a way to make it work. And save up your money!!! Being an artist can be expensive!

Thank you very much for this interview! You have been really great.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung Part 1

I recently met with upcoming diva Christina Chung in the heart of Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District of New York City for a quite interesting and fun interview. I had the pleasure of seeing her rehearsal with hiphop dance choreography royalty Jason Lee then perform at the Korean dance club Circle NYC in the heart of Times Square.

Here is a look into the life of this hot future Grammy award winner:

I'm Christina Chung. I'm an independent recording artist. I guess the genre of music that I sing is pop music. I have a lot of eclectic influences. It's urban but it also has a little bit electro, a little bit of soul. So I just combine that for my new sound. I've been pursuing my music career full-time after I graduated and it's been a blast. You know it's tough. Everyday it's up and down like sometimes I'll get really exciting phone calls and everyone's like emailing me about all this stuff then there will be a week where things are slower and I get all stressed but so far I love doing what I'm doing and I'm really enjoying it and it's just incredible to be pursuing something you love. I thank God everyday that I can be doing this.

Would you consider yourself somewhat of a new Korean Christina Aguilera?

I try not to compare myself to other artists. People always ask 'What are your influences?' 'Who do you sound like?" because they want a point of reference. It's hard to describe myself. I'm just me. I like Christina Aguilera but I do have my own sound. I'm trying to be an Asian-American artist without imitating other artists. There will be similarities because it's pop music and because it's overlapping producers and writers that you work with but I don't want to be the next Asian Rihanna or Asian Christina Aguilera. I want to create my own image and identity.

Who do you listen to?

Growing up I was a huge Mariah fan, huge, every single album. When I went to see her in concert I cried. She is the one artist that really really gets me and for a while, in the beginning, I would try to sing like her but it's Mariah and you can't sing like Mariah. I'm sorry but people try. I'm also a huge Alicia [Keys] fan so that influences my music especially when I'm sitting at the piano. I love her soulful sound. She's just so down to earth. But no one wants me to be Alicia Keys either. So I just combine all those influences. I'm also a really huge hiphop fan. For a while I was listening to hiphop more than anything else. Now I'm branching out into listening to more experimental music to open up the range of sounds that I can produce so they don't like that generic Britney [Spears] sound. So I think for the next music that I will be recording I want to get a little weirder. Get a little more quirky.

Are you going to bring your piano into it?

Yes! I play piano when I write. I always write on the piano. I don't always perform with the piano partially because of logistics. Hard to lug it around. Partially also because I like to move and dance and interact with the audience. I also listen the Eurythmics and some of those old school 80s stuff so it will be interesting to see what I come up with next.

Do you have any Asian influences?

I studied a lot of Asian music in college. My music major was concentrating on ethnic musicology which studying music and culture and social and developmental aspects of music. I studied Brazilian music, Asian music, Latin American. I really enjoyed those classes. I don't overtly use Asian songs in terms of instrumentation. I think more my Asian-American culture upbringing influences my point of view. I'm not going to be singing Korean folk songs. Some people do that and they do it well but some people try to do it and it sounds forced. If I hear something and I'm inspired by it I'll incorporate.

You wouldn't try to cover Alicia Keys in Korean or something like that?

Not yet. Not yet. My Korean needs a lot of work because my parents are actually very American.

Is it more American born Korean?

Yeah. A lot of people say 'Why don't you go to Korea? Why don't you go to Korea?' but I'm not just Korean and not just American. I'm Korean American. I grew up in the States. That's where I live. New York is where my heart is. I want to stay here. If an incredible opportunity arose I wouldn't go ruling it out but I think the climate is right, right now, for me to be able to succeed here.

Well you had a very successful concert at the Korean American club Circle NYC already. They were very accepting.

I think it can work on both fronts. I would hope that Korean-Americans as well as Korean people will love my music either way as well as the non-Asian community. I have a lot of non-Asian listeners, especially on MySpace. Although starting out, all the concerts and things I've been doing have been at mostly Korean places, I definitely plan to be branching out into, not just the national market but the global market. Some people find my cds in Germany. That's really cool.

Let's hope they like you more than David Hasslehoff. I am so ashamed to be from that country because of that.

[chuckles] Yeah.

Check out Part 2 of Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung coming soon with pictures from the CircleNYC performance!

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Wang Guowei with Shanghai Quartet

Acclaimed erhu player Wang Guowei performs in "The Shanghai Quartet and Friends" concerts as part of the Asia Society's presentation of Art and China's Revolution.

Friday, Oct. 24, 8 pm
Works created by contemporary Chinese composers (including Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, and Zhou Long) and Chinese folk songs from the Cultural Revolution period.
Wang Guowei plays popular erhu music during the Cultural Revolution, accompanied on yangqin by Li Liqun.

Saturday, Oct. 25, 8 pm
Works created by contemporary Chinese composers (including Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, and Zhou Long) and Chinese folk songs from the Cultural Revolution period.
Wang Guowei joins the Shanghai Quartet in Chen Yi's Fiddle Suite.

Asia Society Auditorium, 725 Park Avenue, New York
$20 seniors and students w/ID; $20 members; $25 nonmembers

Buy tickets online: =

Phone: 212-517-ASIA


Information from Music From China newsletter

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Queen Comedienne of ChiTown

Leah Eva has hopscotched the world from the Philippines to San Francisco and has recently settled down in Chicago where she has claimed the title of only successful Asian comic in Chi Town. I had the pleasure to interview her before her performance in the Shine For Our People event, which raised money for Typhoon Frank victims.

The stereotypical class clown in high school, Leah's family encouraged her with dance and joke requests.

My aunties and my uncles said 'go dance Leah!' and I'd start dancing and I'm like 'Ok! Ok! Here I am dancing!'. I was trying to figure out if I should try stand-up and I tried it and got up on stage and did stand-up and got hooked on it. If I don't do stand-up I get really sad. I have to get on stage. I have to get on stage.

What type of humor do you do? Regular jokes? Physical humor? One liners?

My stuff is really interesting. It's different. I do a lot of racially related, charged issues. At the same time I do a little out there, surreal; Cause one of my favorite comics, Nick Shepherd, Steven Wright, Dave Chapelle, Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor, Wendy Liebman, and all these other great comics it's just great. I just do what I think is funny and just trying to find my own voice. I do the ethnic jokes but I do everything.

Who are your biggest influences?

I can't really say one, two, three, or whoever but Richard Pryor, I love Richard Pryor. But there is so many great comediennes out there, like Robert Hawkins and my friends are all so funny!

So you did a show with Chris Rock?

I did! I did! It was awesome! I was at Stand Up NY and I thought I had dropped off. Chris Rock is working on his material. And I thought that was awesome because hey you don't get to see Chris Rock everyday. I'm like 'dude I'll stay here and hang out!' and the manager basically said, 'Ok here it is. You get to do it after Chris Rock performs. Here's the catch. You suck you'll never get to perform at this club ever again but if you do well every time you come to New York you'll always get a set.' So I was all scared! I was like 'Oh man! What am I going to do!? How do I do this!?' I work so hard doing comedy and finally the time has come to prove myself and you know being a female comic I have to work harder, try harder because they think women aren't funny. I just have to do it and I got up there and I did it! And I was like 'WOOOOO!'

Recently the most profiled woman comic has been Margaret Cho. Do you feel you're on the level with her?

Well we're completely different and I don't feel I am above anyone. The way I look at it, if you're a comic you're just as good as anyone else. You're a peer. I think she's great because other female Asian comics are out there now doing comedy that she started for us and she started out in San Francisco so it's cool.

Oddly besides Margaret Cho I've not known Asian comediennes

Well that's me! The only one in Chicago! When I was in San Francisco I just felt like I needed to go somewhere because I didn't feel I was growing enough so I moved to Chicago.

Are you finding big differences between the audience reactions between the cities?

Yes absolutely. Certain jokes you can only do in Chicago, certain jokes you can only do in San Francisco, and there's like small towns where I perform, seems like they like a lot of dirty jokes, which is good cause I like them too. New York City, a very liberal city, so it depends on where you are and you have to read your audience. And if you're not doing, you're just sucking, and eating shit on stage you go, just get off the stage and it's not you're night. It's just any other job. You have good nights and you have bad nights.

Do you find it hard to switch out jokes depending on the city you're in?

Sometimes I forget 'Oh gosh I forgot to do the joke about the XBox or oh man about the porn star, and about the condoms.' and I'm still developing and working out material.

After Chris Rock, is there any other person you'd want to work with?

I'd love to work with Dave Chapelle. Robert Hawkins, I'd like to work with him, and just do shows with friends. It would be so much funner! We started out together at an open mic, a little place and all the people that started out there are touring now and doing really good.

Do you have more plans in New York before you go back to Chicago?

I hope to do more shows and I'm just here to network with other comics, hope to get more gigs, and come back here in maybe a few months and do more sets. I'm basically enjoying myself. If there's another set I'll do it! Wherever there's a place to perform.

How has touring around the US been?

It's like me, this Italian comic, and this black comic. I opened up for them on the road. We went to this gas station and I went 'Dad! and dad! You are like so awesome! I'm so happy you adopted me!' and just stuff like that. I've been on the road with them and it's like by the time you get home there's not a lot of money in your pocket but you had such a great time going in this little town. They treat you like a celebrity, like rock stars. Like they hug you and everything and ask you for an autograph and I'm like "oh my god! this is so great! It's cool!' It's just the opportunity to travel the US. I want to go to Iraq and perform for the soldiers. Some people don't want to go to Iraq. I'm like 'take me!' and I'll perform.

How has the media been with your performances?

I did Last Comic Standing but that made me look bad. I did MTV and that was a good experience. I was a finalist at this black comedy competition in California. I'm not black but wherever there is a stage I'd like to get the opportunity to perform. But there's been times where, you can't call yourself a real comic until you get booed or eaten shit on stage. I was doing a show at U.C. Berkley and I had to follow a big rap group and I was like 'oh no' and no one was listening to me and I did it and it was painful but after the show I went to see Dave Chapelle so it was good!

(Conversation went into a whole explanation of how to get legal weed and other fun stuff in San Francisco. Plans of flying there with Leah and her cousin are in the works!)

Do you have any plans for a dvd or cd?

I actually have one out. A documentary about stand-up comediennes in San Francisco. They followed me around to open mics and different shows.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Traveling Sweatshops

I was reading our forums and the Engrish shirts kicked a thought into my head I just had to post. It’s unusual that I post something I haven’t research or written a journalistic piece for but oh well. Patterns can be broken so here is my thought.

Is it possible, with the evolution of technology and laws, we have gone from brick and mortar sweatshops to traveling ones? Is it no longer neccessary for morons to take “fresh off the boat” people and get them to work cheaply in the horrible conditions of a factory sewing clothing for P. Diddy’s clothing line?

New York City was (and still is) famous for sweatshops. There is no doubt that they exist. But, with the turn of the 21st Century and new technology, sweatshops have become roving businesses. The workers are free to move around outside the walls of those cement prisons but are still treated as they were before with possible a few cents added to the pay.

Here is two classic New York City cases:
DVD Sellers-Chinese women setup a blanket in a subway station and stand there screaming “dvd 5 dolla!”. Also various Chinese people carry giant backpacks full of bootleg dvds. They typically go to places where many people will be sitting around such as fast food places, laundrymats, and walk through the subway trains putting them into people’s faces asking “dvd?!”

Tourist store dropouts-When you visit Chinatown in NYC you automatically see every one of them with many toys and blinking things in front. Well when those aren’t selling there is an alternative way to sell them. We have Chinese people who walk through the trains with random blinking and noisy toys and packs of batteries screaming “Batteries 1 dolla!”.

It’s like a traveling sweatshop for them and they barely understand English more than money terms. No one knows or ever sees who they get the dvds, toys, and batteries from and the police generally don’t care. We have occassional police stings to get major dvd bootleggers but usually there is nothing done to the sweatshop workers as they are just walking around screaming a random phrase over and over agian and walking past people. Will this change anytime soon? Doubtful. I’ll post in the future if anyone ever decides to stop them or change how they are being treated.

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Three Women Break Stereotypes in China Dolls

M.J. Wyn, a successful sportswriter with dreams of interviewing the likes of Michael Jordan and other superstars of the sports world, finds herself in the middle of the male dominated industry and attempts to break stereotypes to obtain her goals; Alex Kwan, a very competitive lawyer, finds herself questioning her morals and limits to succeed where men are recognized as superior negotiators; Lin Cho, a wealthy stock broker and member of a highly successful investment team, has to decide on accepting the challenge of working in London or staying in New York with the possibility of true romance within view. All three woman are successful, all three are Chinese, and all three fight the same stereotypes in their respective industries but can all three still achieve their desires, their dreams, and yet keep their personal connections intact?

In China Dolls, Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan take readers through the world of Chinese stereotypes, traditions, and glimpses into the lives of Chinese families. The characters struggle to keep their family bonds while trying to handle a constant barrage of racially biased speeches and browbeating by family members and long time Chinese friends. Yu and Kan have written each character description as if they were sitting on the stools, in the cubicles, or the loge seats right next to the characters ingesting every nuance of their personalities. This gives readers a great image into the minds of each character and the ease to follow the cultural complexities explained in the story.

M.J., Alex, and Lin seem to be best friends but their personalities clash throughout the book giving an added piece of inner turmoil for each to face in their own way. This adds to the question of their friendships being maintained through all the hardships, arguments, and obstacles placed before them by being Chinese and female in a world which frowns on situations the three main characters face in China Dolls.

As someone who rarely reads books other than science fiction and fantasy I was intrigued by the blurb on the cover about M.J. being Chinese and a sports reporter so couldn’t pass up a new subway time read like China Dolls. Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan did a great job piecing together the three lives and connecting them in more facets than I imagined I would read in such a short book (278 pgs.). They also added a balance of old world and modern day Chinese culture, which allowed most of the background characters to remain influential to the lives the main characters. The story contained a good amount of humor from some of the phrases Lin’s mother Kim says to banter between colleagues and many comically embarrassing moments for M.J., Alex, and Lin.

As mentioned before there are predictions made by a psychic as to the futures of M.J., Alex, and Lin but I’ll leave that part to intrigue those of you reading this review into getting the book. I definitely recommend China Dolls but suggest taking it at a slower pace than most books. There are plenty of characters to read about from ex-boyfriends to relatives galore and one sentence read wrong can throw you completely into confusion.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have and will look for more books in the future from Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan.

If you’d like to read a Q&A of Michelle and Blossom then head on over to their official China Dolls site:Official China Dolls Site

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F.A.M. Cosplay @ AnimeNext

In honor of cosplay favorites Lara Visconti and Jessica Dawson joining, I am proud to present Fangirling Asian Media Cosplay ‘08!

This year’s AnimeNext Convention in New Jersey gave me the opportunity to really get into cosplay photography and my first chance to enjoy it came with Lara, Jessica, and their friend Melanie! They came to the con as members of Final Fantasy with a full skit to do for the AnimeNext Masquerade. They were great and looked like they really enjoyed themselves on stage and around the convention areas. I believe they received an Honorable Mention in the Masquerade judging so congrats to them!

So, here is a small sample of pictures they were very nice to pose for before we headed into the main building. I’ve also included two of the pictures from their performance in the masquerade. Please forgive the quality. No matter what photoshopping I did I couldn’t get them to look how I wanted them to.

Once you’ve checked out the pictures, see their performance as recorded by minimoon12328 and featured on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy!

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Cosplay Month Continues!

I’ve been running a bunch of ideas for blog entries though my work-fried brain and came up with Cosplay Month! Following my first entry of the most popular characters of cosplay I’ve decided to continue with cosplay themed entries up until and including the New York Anime Festival!

Tonight’s entry highlights two really talented cosplayers I’ve found on my daily journies through the world of The pictures were either taken by themselves or by friends.

To start this list off I’ve found someone technically in the profession of cosplay. JoEllenElam aka Lillyxandra is a fashion designer, seamstress, makeup artist, and Zelda addict.

She is known for finding the most amazing locations to photograph her work from the backdrop of pink flowers and bright green lawn for the fairy picture below to the rocky outcrop of a river for a mermaid.

Possibly the greatest Kingdom Hearts cosplayer EVER, Evil-Uke-Sora utilizes costumes designed by herself with wigs and other accessories from friends and the hugely talented photographic ability of some of her fellow cosplayers to bring Sora to life everyday. In the ultimate example of a woman playing a male character to perfection, this 25 year old resident of Munich, Germany seemingly never runs out of ideas for shoots.

As you see below, life can imitate art as Evil-Uke-Sora mimics a scene from the introduction of Kingdom Hearts 2 (left) and one of Evil-Uke-Sora’s favorite cosplay partners, nanjokoji, comes into almost every shoot as Riku. Take a look at how great those Keyblades are!

During the start of a Q&A journal Evil-Uke-Sora put up, she put a link to a picture of her without the costume, wig, and other cosplay stuff. We’ll call these Just Christine:

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With Anime Festivals Come Cosplay…

As the New York Anime Festival is approaching, I feel like it’s time to dust off the old black cloaks, repaint the 6 foot tall broad swords, and once again bribe your brothers or sisters to cosplay the opposite gender so you can go as an Anime couple. With that said, what better way to kick off this blog than to dive into that fun, yet sometimes very disturbing, world of cosplay!

From my experiences at cosplay events, I’ve concluded some characters get much more acknowledgment in the eyes of fans when it comes to taking hours to create costumes, accessories, and props for these events.If anyone feels they will go to the NYAF in costume then perhaps you may try characters not on this list to get more attention or see if you can be a better version of these than other cosplayers.

So without further ado….The Top 10 Characters (not really in order) Cosplayed at Conventions/Festivals are:

Sora from Kingdom Hearts

Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto

Yugi Mutou from YuGiOh

Yuna from Final Fantasy

Ichigo from Bleach

Hideki Motosuwa from Chobits

Misa from Death Note

Rikku from Final Fantasy

InuYasha from InuYasha

Any Sailor Moon Member

Honorable Mention: Chung Li from Street Fighter

Honorable Mention: Rukia from Bleach

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