Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Big Bang Boom! And, Samurai-On-Samurai

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, Hip Hapa Homeez! Happy New Year or, as the Japanese say, Omedetto Gozaimasu (literally meaning ‘congratulations’ and also used for birthdays and other special occasions).

In celebration of evolving to 2010, let’s start with a big bang boom by featuring Kikue Mugen as our weekly Hip Hapa Homee. Now, I thought I’d heard every kind of mixed culture/ethnic/race story until Kikue and I friended each other on Facebook. Because of her cool illustrations and her hip writing style, I just assumed she was a teenager living in Japan. Turns out, Kikue’s mother was a WWII bride like mine, but her mother came from Italy and her Japanese American soldier father from Hawai’i.

Although she was born and raised in Hawai’i, Kikue has always felt strong ties to her Japanese heritage and is a samurai expert. As much as I consider myself a peacenik, I can’t help but be fascinated with Japan’s feudal period. Anticipating the new NHK taiga drama series for this year, I’m excited to see what will top last year’s Tenchijin starring mega-modern Japanese boys as old school samurai.

That’s Kikue in a photo embraced by one of her own illustrations. Easy, ladies, he's only into men.

And, here are links to her sites:

Q: Was your father a member of the 442nd (the all-Nissei, 2nd generation Japanese American) Army unit--the most highly decorated of WWII?

A: Dad sure was one of the brave men who participated in WWII, 442nd Headquarters, Anti-Tank Company, Service Company, Cannon Company.

Q: Does he ever talk about those experiences?

A: He didn't say much about the war when I was living at home. Whenever he was asked about it, he'd often joke and tell us that he played a lot of music during that time. Since dad was a musician, he played the sax. We took his word for it, not wanting to press him to talk about something that might bring back harsh memories. However, when I left home I did a lot of Christian ministry/missionary work overseas. I did intense work in Burma with national people known as the Karen, and spent most of my time with the Karen Army. It was then that I saw and participated in war, and had many wartime memories that turned into issues when I returned to the U.S.A. My dad then opened up to tell me of some similar things he had gone through during his service as a 442nd soldier.

The unfamiliar events that he shared with me regarding his being in the 442nd were the emotions which he had to deal with early on, actually before he was recruited. He was working at Pearl Harbor just before the Japanese zeros flew in for the attack. He was doing carpentry there at the time. He was not at Pearl Harbor on that specific day of the bombing, but was on School Street in Kalihi, near Lanakila School, when he noticed the zeros flying overhead. Later, he described the black smoke billowing from the direction of the harbor. He told me that no one really understood what was going on until the news broke on the radio exclaiming that it wasn't a drill, that it was the real thing.

When he tried to enter Pearl Harbor to fetch his tools later, he was refused by the base personnel. He and other men were lined up and taken to the entry of the base and it turned into a roughhousing sort of event. Dad and the other men he was with were pushed and shoved, and hit and kicked when some fell on the ground. He told me that they still really didn't understand why they were being mistreated.

I can't imagine how horrible that must have felt. There he was, without a job and his tools were somewhere on the base.

Q: What did your mother's family think of her marrying a Japanese American man; what did his parents think about him marrying a European?

A: My mother's involvement in the war was quite interesting as well, for she literally fought against the Germans as an Italian guerrilla. I won't go into details here about her involvement, but I will say that she had lost her citizenship with Yugoslavia because of it. She was banned from that country with her picture on a 'wanted' poster in a Yugoslavian museum many years later. Her belief in freedom made her take up arms and participate in guerrilla warfare on the side of the Italians. To make a long story short, the war was incredibly 'hot' when she met my dad and, through it, they fell in love. When the war ended, they were married at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. So, as you can guess, mom had no problems trying to explain why she had an American Japanese boyfriend.

On the other hand, when dad brought my mom home to Hawai’i to meet his mom, I guess one could say that there was a different type of battle to be fought. Grandmother was of samurai descent with her roots being from Chiba, Japan. Dad certainly didn't have it easy convincing my grandmother that he had done the right thing by marrying a European while at war in Italy. Life was difficult back then for the newlyweds.

Q: Besides knowing the history, what Japanese cultural nuances do you embrace?

A: I have an alcove in my home with three wooden omamori (prayer/good luck charms) hanging there now for the Shinsengumi, Saito Hajime and Fujita Goro. I am in the process of remodeling my home to be more Japanese. I've recently spent a small fortune for eco-friendly bamboo flooring, which incidentally is now acclimating in the sunroom before being installed. I am having a grand time replacing my western furniture with Asian furniture. I've already traded my luxury bed that was complete with space-age foam mattress for a very humble futon, years ago. I go to all the Japanese festivals there are in Atlanta, and I have been going out to California every year for Obon in the summer. This past summer, I made it up to Manzanar (Japanese internment camp) to sit quietly and contemplate. At home, my daughter and I never eat with forks, but we use hashi (chopsticks) instead. All our dinnerware is Japanese and the meals are served that way as well. I live and practice as my father raised me…something we call wabi sabi (asymmetrical and natural).

Q: How did you come to be such a samurai-phile, if there’s such a term?

A: I do love Japan! I love the samurai, especially the Shinsengumi and Byakkotai, the young boys who committed suicide during the last part of the Boshin War.

I think I've studied the Shinsengumi throughout and have had interest in them since I was a child when my granduncle told me stories of their achievement--how they weren't samurai, but because they believed that they were they accomplished an almost impossible feat. For all my life, their example allowed me to draw upon to accomplish many impossible(s) in my life. This is why I've dedicated the website to them. Samurai-on-Samurai was an old term the samurai had during matches between one another.

My father is a low-ranking samurai from the Chiba village near Edo (Tokyo, today). Fishermen by trade, they were also good merchants. But after the Boshin War, my ancestors hit difficult times when Japan reorganized their whole, entire way of governing society. My great great-grandparents made the trek across the Pacific to Hilo Hawai’i to work the plantations. Well, actually, on my obasan's (grandmother’s) side. My ojisan (grandfather) came over later from Tokyo as a merchant and then married my grandmom who was born in Hawai’i. She was only twelve years old at the time! My dad was born in Honolulu and grew up there.

I've never felt disconnected from my ancestors. Being raised in Hawai’i, my family kept many of the Japanese traditions. I was made to go to Japanese school, though at the time I didn't pay attention, but some of it rubbed in. I went to all the Japanese festivities and catered to my visiting relatives from Japan. However, when I moved from Hawai’i to the mainland, I lost touch with everything Japanese. I was so homesick, not necessarily for Hawai’i, but for Japan. Thank heavens I was able to visit there a few times during the course of my adult life! I still miss Japan as though I had lived my whole life there.

Q: What interested you in writing about gay samurai?

A: My deciding to write male/male erotica came about for various reasons and it would take me quite awhile to explain. I will tell you that I enjoy writing Japanese historical stories because it does give me a chance to really dig into the traditions and customs I so long to live a part of. When I write, I do have a sense of exploration and experience Japan thusly. It is fulfilling for me and I hope the stories I write will peak people's interest in Japan as well.

The film Taboo (Gohatto) was sort of a low-key homosexual story that I thought rather interesting. They made (gay samurai) seem so taboo in the film when, in fact, male on male relationships were very common during the samurai era.

Here is some information about that which is quite accurate:

Q: What did you think of the Hollywood films, The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha?

A: Both movies were entertaining as movies go. However, I have two close friends who are both very studied Japan scholars, who help me along with my historical fiction writing in Japanese history and culture. I think that a lot of their knowledge about Japanese history has rubbed off on me to be able to see how unauthentic both movies were. But then again, besides all the western glamour added in order to sell tickets, I still enjoyed them.

Q: Any thoughts about the parade for the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) held in Japan?

A: I thought it very interesting that they have a modern day parade event.

What makes the 47 Ronin and Shinsengumi so interesting is the Shinsengumi modeled themselves after the 47 Ronin. If I had to compare both narratives, hands down the Shinsengumi has more appeal because they had so many dimensions because the group was so much more mixed (socially).

I am very, very fortunate to know two very good Japanese history scholars who make it a point to study the Boshin War and also the Shinsengumi. I get a lot of first time information from them as they study and translate raw documents about the Boshin War. There are bits and pieces of the Shinsengumi that pops up--great information that is not yet released that I am so privileged to peek at. As a matter of fact, on my site on, we host a good site called Shinsengumi Head Quarters:

I think I've seen all the Shinsengumi movies there are in Japan, and have a good lot of them, too.

It has been said by Armen, one of the Japan historical scholars I know, that the 47 Ronin incident and that of what people assume about what happened just isn't true, but is known by them as a "feudal drive-by".

Wow! Domo arrigato gozaimasu, Kikue, for all the interesting information about your life, your art and your writing. It already looks like 2010 will be an explosive year, but, hopefully, in a positive way. Certainly, it’s wished that all wars end and that what we learn from history--such as the feuds among Japan's samurai clans--will encourage us to lay down arms for peace.

In any case, everyone please remember to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group and become a fan of Watermelon Sushi on Facebook. And, don’t forget to check out our film and t-shirts.

Here’s to a new year filled with peace for all Hip Hapa Homeez everywhere!

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hapa Holidays, Hapa Children!

HAPA Holidays, Hip Hapa Homeez! Right about now, most of you are probably dipping into some good old holiday cheer while gathering around hoa’aloha (friends) and ‘ohana (family). This time of the year is especially exciting for the keiki (children), and our blog this week features such a child—the perpetually cheerful Tyler Ransom, along with his father, Marlon.

Besides being a happy hapa kid, Tyler also happens to have an illness for which there is no known cure. Read below to find out how you can help.

That’s Tyler’s to the left, and other Ransom family members—mother Cheryl, sister Skylar, and father Marlon--below.

Following are some thoughts hapa papa Marlon shared with us.

Q: What's a nice black, Irish and Thai guy like you doing with such a multi-cultural family?

A: The short story is my grandmother on my father’s side is Thai; my grandfather on my mother’s side is Irish. So, I guess that makes me a quarter Irish and a quarter Thai and the rest black. I met my wife, Cheryl, who is Filipino, at a gym in Chicago. She posed quite a challenge for me, as she wasn’t particularly open to dating someone who was somewhat of a ladies man. After weeks of making small talk at the gym, I suggested that we go out and she said, “Me and you?” From that moment I was determined to go out with her, not realizing the result would be a going on nine-year marriage with two kids, Tyler (8) and Skylar (6).

Q: Besides booking talent for corporate speaking engagements, you also promote mixed martial arts pay-per-view parties, write for Ultimate MMA magazine, manage a select group of fitness professionals and are in school completing your degree in Legal Studies. How do you juggle so many things?

A: I am a time management junkie, so to speak. I plan out each upcoming week every Sunday, based on the projects and commitments and, I adjust time restraints on each accordingly. It is a mad science, which works well with my ADD.

Q: You're also a film producer. Can you tell us about the scripts you've optioned and the films you've produced?

A: I have been fortunate enough to have optioned a handful of scripts, none have been made as of yet, but being paid for your writing is a blessing. My writing eerily sways between religious-themed topics to Silence of the Lamb type crime and suspense.

I have been involved with raising funds for a number of 1 million dollar range films that have gone straight to DVD and or have been released to select markets. When people say they have produced something, many times that simply means they brought money to the table in some capacity.

Q: What about the short film you sold to a mega-church?

A: I wrote and produced a short film loosely based on the Book of Job, but done in modern times. My goal was to be able to find investors to then make a feature, but several large churches expressed interest in the story. I ended up selling the rights to one of the mega churches located in the Bible belt.

Q: Tell us about your son, Tyler, and his illness.

A: Tyler is extremely disciplined, which may have a lot to do with us starting him in karate at age three, followed by Muay Thai kickboxing and presently Gracie jiu-jitsu. He happens to have a rare kidney syndrome called nephrotic syndrome. The short definition: There is a malfunction in the kidney’s filtering system causing valuable protein in the blood to leak into the urine. This leakage causes fluid to accumulate in the body and prolonged leakage has been shown to cause kidney failure.

Q: What is the Nephcure Foundation, and how can our readers help Tyler and other children like him?

A: The Nephcure Foundation is an organization that is committed to funding research seeking a cause and cure for those suffering from Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS. Here’s their link:

People should go to their site and or go to Tyler’s personal page where they can donate to the organization in Tyler’s name:

Q: You've created several YouTube videos about your children. Do you have plans for a bigger project involving them?

A: One never knows. Our mission right now is keeping our daughter, Skylar grounded, which is difficult when she is constantly told how beautiful she is.

Check out the Ransom kids on Youtube:

And, here’s Marlon’s business website:

Mahalo nui loa, Tyler, Marlon, and to all of you Hip Hapa Homeez for your continuing support. We especially appreciate those of our fans who have made the effort to purchase a Hapa*Teez t-shirt. All proceeds support the Watermelon Sushi film and your assistance is very much appreciated. Remember to contact us so that we can give you the rear crawl credit you deserve!

If you haven’t already joined our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook, please do. This is where we keep you updated on news that impacts multicultural communities. Join our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook, too, so you can stay tuned to the latest about our film. And, check us out on Twitter where we’ve been posting dialogue from the Watermelon Sushi script.

Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Half Kenneth Is All That, And Backed By Yoko Ono Lennon, Too!

Ken Ochiai’s American Film Institute (AFI) master’s thesis film is just 21 minutes in duration. Yet every second of those 21 minutes of celluloid is so engaging that it seems much longer.

Half Kenneth is the tale of two young hapa brothers who run away from the Manzanar War Relocation Camp in search of their white mother. After his Japanese father dies in camp, the oldest boy decides to find his mother rather than be banished to an orphanage. Although he attempts his secret mission alone, his younger brother insists on tagging along—tossing a monkey wrench into his well-laid plans.

Starring Oscar-winning actor Chris Tashima and long-time luminary Sab Shimono, and executive produced by Yoko Ono Lennon, Half Kenneth is being developed into a full-length feature film. Its grim depiction of camp life in 1945 is both authentic and dismal.

Check out the trailer then, read what Ken Ochiai has to say, following. That’s him in the pix below directing his young actor. A shot of the film poster is above, with another of the real life brothers as actors right here:

Q: What’s a nice Japanese guy like you doing making movies in America?

A: I was born and raised in Tokyo. As soon as I graduated from high school, I went to NYU for summer school then transferred to Santa Monica Community College. I wanted to transfer to USC or NYU, but NYU films have a little more of an artistic message and my taste is more like Hollywood movies. I transferred to USC as an undergrad where I learned a general sense of filmmaking and shot a lot of my friends’ movies.

I started making movies at 12, in Japan, with a junior high school classmate. Since then I’ve been making movies, but USC was the first time I learned how to make movies.

Q: How do your parents feel about your career choice?

A: My father is a businessman who didn’t really want me to become a film director. The Asian style is that you don’t want your kids to become artists because being a film director in Japan is not considered a job. He even told me that it’s like being a gambler.

My parents agreed that if I got a master's degree at one of the top schools, and if I didn’t make director, maybe I could teach. So I made a promise when I was 16 that after I graduated from USC, I would look for a specific directing program.

At AFI, I learned the craft of directing, like how to communicate your vision to each department, what to say to actors, composers, and the cinematographer. To have a clear a vision is most important. You also have to communicate with your crew members.

Q: You speak English very well!

A: I studied English in junior high school in Japan, but when I first came here I didn’t speak English at all and, it was hard for me to direct people.

My first couple of years here, I tried not to make friends with Japanese and tried to use Japanese as little as possible. I tried to watch movies in English, read books and write in English, and forced myself to dream in English. Then, I made a lot of friends and asked them to correct my English if I said something weird or funny--you know, FOBish English.

NYU had a gym, and I had played high school basketball so I was able to make friends even though I didn’t speak English. Playing sports can be one of the tools for communicating with people. Because I was able to communicate through basketball, I started realizing filmmaking is my way of expressing myself.

I speak very SoCal English. I started with thinking in English then, talking to myself in English, and I started dreaming in English. I did a lot of shadowing. While driving in traffic, I repeated what the radio said, in the car so no one would have to listen to me.

Q: How did you get Yoko Ono Lennon to executive produce Half Kenneth?

A: We don’t really talk about her too much because she kind of wanted us to not use her name, because then it becomes Yoko Ono’s Half Kenneth instead of our Half Kenneth. There’s a long story about her involvement. It’s kind of a myth or a secret. Basically, long-story-short, our producer, Maya Kanehara, knew Yoko’s manager so we were able to send letters and a proposal.

Q: Your two young actors are really hapa. Was it hard to cast their roles?

A: We had a casting director, Yumi Takata, who was a casting associate for Letters from Iwo Jima. She knew a lot of kids that were mixed race, but was not able to find anyone who was Japanese Caucasian mixed.

Maya had a casting team put up advertising in all the Japanese markets. One was very well known to hapa kids in L.A. basketball leagues. Two weeks before production, we got a phone call from a mother who saw that advertisement. She sent us an email with pictures of her boys. Avery and Hunter looked exactly as we imagined for their parts.

I told them to bring a suitcase to the audition, and asked them to pack as if they were going to Manzanar. They packed very memorable stuff, and that’s when I decided we should go with those boys. It was the first time they ever acted, and they gave us an amazing performance.

Q: Both Chris Tashima and Sab Shimono are recognizable names. How did you convince them to be a part of an independent short?

A: They were actually very, very generous. I knew Chris since his short film Day of Independence. I was a production assistant for one day. I didn’t really get to talk to him, but I had a contact. I wrote a very passionate letter.

Chris said he wanted to meet at a coffee shop. We talked and he said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ Sab was actually in a camp when he was four, and he knows all the details. He added so many layers to the story. That’s why I cast him, and I also used his voice in the beginning to explain what happened in the camps.

Q: In the bonus scenes where you’re shown on set, you appear to be very meticulous. What’s your directing style?

A: Sometimes I feel like I micromanage things too much. But I don’t know how can I describe my directing style. Directors I admire and whom I grew up watching their films include Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, Alexander Payne, Akira Kurosawa and Ozu.

It all comes down to a story that has the theme of a bond between people. It could be family or it could be friendship. This bond that they didn’t have in the beginning of the film, but through their experience we see they create this bond. That’s the kind of movie I like to direct.

But it’s true. I’m a little too meticulous about certain things, and spend a lot of time with crew members to see what exactly is going to be on screen.

Q: Half Kenneth is your AFI master’s project. When will it be a full-length feature?

A: I’m currently developing the feature film with my friend from USC. We are hoping that we can finish the first draft some time early next year. We co-wrote it as a short.

There are 28 films and 26 directors at AFI. Two directors get to do two thesis films. I was fortunate to get a second thesis film (the first was Lucky Lotus). I pitched Half Kenneth to producer Maya Kanehara who also wanted to do a story about a Japanese American internment camp. I came up with three stories and this was one that she liked.

There are some studios that want to read the script. But there are so many unsold scripts in this town that we don’t know what’s going to happen. Because the short won awards and got a lot of attention, the feature may get made some time next year.

We did sell the worldwide distribution rights for five years, and distribute to lot of places right now. But we haven’t found a way to sell the DVD’s in the U.S.

Q: There’s a poignant scene in the film where mourners place paper cranes on the father’s grave. Can you explain it?

A: We researched a lot of Japanese American books and interviewed camp survivors. The Japanese phrase shikata ga nai means ‘nothing can be done about it’. Even though it has a somewhat negative connotation, I take it as a positive attitude.

Some things you can’t do anything about. War was created. Japan has a lot of natural disasters. A lot of people accept those things, and make the best out of them.

People in the camps were suffering, but they tried to make a garden. Because they didn’t have flowers, they tried to make things out of things. The boys don’t have a father and their mother is gone, but they have each other. They did something about it together.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Ken-san! We’re all looking forward to seeing more of your brilliant work. It’s especially encouraging for us mixies to be able to see real multiracial actors playing us. That’s been a controversial element of moviemaking now that more writers and directors are exploring the subject.

Speaking of movies with mixed race characters, don’t forget to join our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook. We’ll be putting up a new Watermelon Sushi website next year, so stay tuned. And, our Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook is where we post interesting news articles about the multi-culti experience.

For the holidays, remember your favorite Hip Hapa Homee with a Hapa*Teez t-shirt.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to write…a comment, that is. We love hearing from you!

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Hapa'ning Un-Hapa

Welcome back, Hip Hapa Homeez! With the approaching holidays about to effect its annual distractions on us, don’t forget about presents for your hapa friends and supporters. If you’re still searching for a hip gift, check out

This week’s featured Hip Hapa Homee has been making noise about mixed-race issues for a while. In fact, Your Hip Hapa first became aware of Wei Ming Dariotis through a 1999 Mavin magazine article. Since she’s been forever in the mix--if you will--you know the sistah’s legit. In November 2010, Wei Ming will co-present the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in Chicago.

Ironically, Wei Ming has been outspoken about discontinuing the use of the word hapa to describe mixed-race Asians. If you’ve been reading this blog since its inception, then you know Your Hip Hapa advocates that all blendies of any mix, and even transracial adoptees, use hapa as a symbol of unity. Originally, Native Hawai’ians referred to their half European offspring as hapa haolehapa, a mispronunciation of the English word “half”; and, haole meaning “without ha, or the sacred breath” which is how they referred to foreigners who didn’t know their custom of expelling their last breath before their king. But as mixed-race Asians grew, they “borrowed” hapa to describe themselves. While Your Hip Hapa understands the pain of pillage Native Hawai’ians must feel, she also thinks that it’s too late to return the word to them. There are so few pure Native Hawai’ians anymore that we can better honor their culture by applying their word to everyone who is multiracial, and point to them as the best example of what being mixed is all about.

Be sure to read Wei Ming’s opinions about this issue in the links below. That’s her wearing her happy hapa smile above. And, a Q&A appears below:

Q: What’s a nice multiracial girl like you doing organizing a conference for mixies?

A: The Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference grew out of an idea I had for a two-week summer seminar for mixed race studies scholars. When Eric Hamako organized a weekend retreat for Mixed Race scholars and community activists in early Spring 2008, I met Laura Kina and Camilla Fojas, who became the co-organizers of what we decided to make an academic conference with a strong community component.

Q: What is your parents’ ethnic mix?

A: My mother is Chinese, and my father is Greek, Swedish, Scottish, English, German, and Pennsylvania Dutch.

Q: You had quite an upbringing—can you share your childhood adventures?

A: I was born in Australia. At two months, I traveled to Hong Kong and Bangkok to visit my Chinese grandmother and grandfather, respectively. At four months, I was living in India on an ashram in the Punjab with my parents. Eventually, we came back to the U.S. and settled, after a year with my grandmother near Seattle, in Northern California. When I was three, my mom and I divorced my dad and, after a brief incident in which my dad kidnapped me, my mom and I moved from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, so she could be around other Asians. She worked as a cocktail waitress, and we lived on welfare for about two years until she was able to pull us out of it. My father, meanwhile, refused to pay any child support. My mom is a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong, though her roots are Shanghainese. She'd come when she was 17, and at this point had been in the U.S. for about 10 years, so she still had trouble with English and had no support network. Eventually, she met a fourth-generation Chinese American, who became my stepfather. He was an architect and encouraged my mom to become a real estate agent, which she was so good at that she was, in the mid 1980s, one of the top commercial brokers in San Francisco. Meaning: I was able to go to the most expensive and exclusive private high school in the Bay Area; San Francisco University High School. It was a childhood with many contrasts.

Q: Tell us about your work.

A: I am an Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. When I graduated from college at 21, I went immediately into a PhD program in English Lit, at University of California Santa Barbara, on a full scholarship. After grad school, I moved back to San Francisco and started working as a lecturer at various schools. Eventually, I was invited to apply for a position at San Francisco State University in Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage--a unique position that has not been duplicated in any other Asian American Studies program.

Q: You’re also a poet. Can you elaborate?

A: I've written poetry most of my life, in part because of the independent school I attended from 4th to 8th grade, Presidio Hill School, founded in 1919 on an anti-war curriculum by two sisters who were artists and poets. As a poet, however, I have often felt bound to confine my poems to specific foci--in other words, I wrote them like I write essays. After I was tenured, I felt I could open up and I began to play with language, with non-sense, and also with mixing different ideas together in one poem in a much looser way. As with my watercolor painting, I've begun to leave "white space" or "breathing room" in my poems.

The collection of poetry I am working on is a hybrid genre--poems with footnotes, bits of autobiographical narrative, and significant quotes from both my own writing and other authors are all included to make a kind of auto-poetical narrative, or what Fred Wah calls "bio-writing".

Here’s a link to a recording of me reading some of my poems:

Q: What about your artwork?

A: I do large acrylic paintings as well as usually smaller watercolors. My work is focused on trees, self-portraits, and abstracts. I like to use purples, lavenders, and copper/gold/silver in my work. Lately, I've been painting green and blue-trunked trees against flaming skies. In this, I think I was influenced by several paintings by Chiura Obata in the permanent collection at the De Young Museum.

Q: Why does the following blurb appear in all of your emails?

“I am on a 10% FURLOUGH. This will affect the level of service you receive. FIGHT to support higher education in California!”

A: What is going on in California is that we need to roll back Prop 13 so we can fund education. It’s as simple as that.

Thank you, Wei Ming. Below are links to this hapa'ning Un-Hapa's many projects and thoughts.

Remember to join Hip Hapa Homeez on Facebook where you can read more news about multiracial issues. And, become a Watermelon Sushi Fan on Facebook to help support our film.

Finally, check out Cassie here looking haute in her Hip Hapa t-shirt. Don't hate. Get yours at:

Until next week, here’s a wish for your holiday hapa-ness!

Your Hip Hapa,