Friday, February 26, 2021

I'm back for one post only to plug my first book, If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You

So much shit has happened since the time I wrote my final blog post here in 2017. A pandemic that's killed so many. The current and upsetting rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. An unfortunate wave of anti-Black police violence. The worst American president in my lifetime. (His final three years in Washington were responsible for tons of terrible shit, including the mishandling of the pandemic, the aforementioned rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, concentration camps full of immigrant kids, and a white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol.) The climate crisis. My mother's stroke symptoms. (Her condition led to me gradually moving back to my parents' house to help my father take care of her, as well as to stay safe from the dual dangers of COVID and MAGAt dumbfucks who want to kill me because they think I'm Chinese. I still haven't even finished the process of moving yet, mostly due to a wintertime lockdown in the Bay Area.)

And yet in the midst of those messy three years full of countless (and sometimes stress-inducing) distractions, I was somehow able to write and publish my first book.

The new book is why I've briefly returned to this blog, despite saying farewell to the blog in 2017, to promote it. (Even though I don't write posts anymore for this blog, I still come back to Blogspot from time to time to remove from my blog any dead links or dead embeds for videos that were deleted from YouTube.) If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You: The Movies and TV Shows Some of Us Regretted Not Catching Until Later ($14.99 in B&W paperback form or $9.99 in e-book form and available only on Amazon) came about because, after I was fired from a coding job I grew to hate, I was unable to find another job for eight years, so I gave up on the job search and kept myself busy by writing content for both this Blogspot blog and the Tumblr blog Accidental Star Trek Cosplay (a blog I continue to update and post content for because it has always been a much less time-consuming and stress-inducing blog, and it also has way more readers than this one did). But I got sick and tired of writing long-form blog posts and online articles for free, so in 2017, I quit this Blogspot blog and vowed to myself that I would never again write for free anything that's long-form. (This long-form post to plug If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You is an exception.) I wasn't ready to start a Patreon or a Ko-fi to earn some money, so I decided instead to write and self-publish a book. (I was also tired of getting rejected every time I pitched a short story idea to an editor or tried to get a writing job. That's why I've gone the self-publishing route.) At first, the book was supposed to be a comedic sci-fi novel, but then a little something called writer's block got in the way.

After three failed attempts at writing novels, I chose to do a non-fiction book instead. I began working in May 2018 on the book that evolved into If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You. I took a few of my blog posts about watching older movies for the first time and did updated or expanded versions of those posts while surrounding them with tons of completely new material. The new stuff in If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You includes essays on Lawrence of Arabia, Playtime, Blue Thunder, Near Dark, The Heroic Trio, MTV's Daria, Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy movies, and Schitt's Creek.

Here's me in 2009, signing copies of a book I contributed material to, but I developed mixed emotions about the book 10 years after its publication. Sunny Kim was totally right about her frustrations with the book and its colorism, and that's all I'm going to say here about that book. The one great thing about the book though was that it led to me becoming friends with Janice Chiang, a former Marvel Comics letterer whose work I liked when I was a kid who read issues of Alpha Flight and The Transformers.

If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You took me two years to write and self-proofread. From November 2019 to October 2020, I was either proofreading the book by myself or making lots of minor tweaks to the book's longest chapters, like a chapter in which I discussed watching seven of the eight Harry Potter movies for the first time. (Yeah, that became a particularly interesting chapter to rewrite during J.K. Rowling's transphobic meltdown.) November 2019 to October 2020 will go down as a really unusual year for me (just as how it was an unusual year for everyone who survived it): In addition to finishing work on my first book, I was dealing with life during COVID while acting as a caregiver to a parent and learning more about how my deep hatred of certain sounds like leaf blower noises is the neurological condition known as misophonia.

Despite having a lot on my plate in 2020, If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You is finally out, and it's the type of book a Filipino American film nerd like myself has always wanted to see out there: a book written from a point of view that just does not get a lot of representation in journalism or publishing simply because there aren't a ton of Filipino American writers who write about film or TV. I was a fan of the YouTube channel National Film Society, which Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco founded to give voice to Filipino American film nerds like themselves (the channel went inactive for a couple of years, but it came back in 2018 without Stephen as a co-host), and I always thought Patrick and Stephen should have put out a book about film. I would have bought such a book in a heartbeat.

This is a peek at If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You's chapter on The Spook Who Sat by the Door, one of the late Nipsey Hussle's favorite flicks, as well as a forgotten film about Black liberation that became especially resonant in 2020.

So why should you buy If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You, even though the "I was late to the party regarding this popular movie or TV show, and here's what I think of what I finally watched..." thing has been done to death by film discussion podcasts and pop culture blogs? First of all, the book gives a spotlight to the same type of underrepresented voice that makes National Film Society's videos stand out on YouTube. Second, despite the book's length (462 pages), it's irreverent and full of humor, and during a time when COVID has confined you to staying home and watching lots of streaming services with so much fucking content, you need a guide like my book to simplify your search for content and direct you to movies and shows you missed out on before COVID and now have probably become curious about while in lockdown.

Friday, December 1, 2017


Too many blogs I've enjoyed reading have been abandoned by authors who abruptly quit posting new content, and too many of those blogs have never even bothered to say farewell to their readers. That's not going to happen here.

I decided in 2016 to quit posting new content for this Blogspot blog, which started out as a tie-in to a radio station I used to run, at the end of 2017. I'm throwing in the towel after 10 years of both writing blog posts barely anybody reads (except for a couple of posts that were read by more than a few after they were retweeted by Edgar Wright and Paul Feig) and getting erroneously referred to as "DK AFOS" or "Jimmy Aquino" without the crucial middle initial in my name by other blogs. The urge to throw in the towel is mostly due to wanting to concentrate on both a prose novel manuscript and Accidental Star Trek Cosplay--a far less time-consuming Tumblr blog with a list of followers that continues to grow (its amount of followers greatly outnumbers the number of people who follow my Twitter feed and the number of people who have hit "Like" on the AFOS Facebook page)--and I made this decision a year before I would stop posting new content, so that I could give myself some extra time to compose a proper farewell.

And the farewell message is this: nobody reads this fucking blog anymore. Thanks for nothing, fuckfaces.

The art of long-form blogging is no longer as enjoyable as it used to be. It's an art that's dying out. Godawful Twitter, equally godawful Facebook and the "pivot to video" trend in digital media are choking the life out of it.

Though it's in its death throes, long-form blogging has continued to be responsible for some outstanding writing. One of my favorite article headlines of 2017--and right now, I can't think of another headline that better sums up 2017--came out of the world of long-form blogging:

But otherwise, it's a dying art. And it's an art whose terminology nobody ever uses correctly. I've lost count of the amount of times someone has written to me, "I saw your blog about that movie," or "I saw your blog about the new Rick and Morty," and I want so badly to correct them and say, "What you mean to say is that you saw my blog post about the movie," but I don't want to sound like a Ted Mosby-ish douche.

The tiny audience I used to have over here has completely vanished. So why fucking bother anymore? I don't know if it's because of people's short attention spans these days and because each generation of readers has a shorter attention span than the last (it reminds me of one of my favorite Elvis Costello verses: "A teenage girl is crying because she don't look like a million dollars/So help her if you can/Because she don't seem to have the attention span"), but I think I'll blame the vanishing readership on that.

Also, the writer's blocks I sometimes would suffer from while trying to write posts during the blog's first few years have actually worsened in the last couple of years. Insert "Don Music banging his head on the keyboard" .GIF here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The problem with The Problem with Apu is that not enough people are going to see Hari Kondabolu's terrific documentary

This is the last all-new blog post before this blog's absolute final post in December 2017.

Fuck all these (predominantly white) superheroes fighting motion-capture-enhanced (and often boring) supervillains on the big screen. The movies I'm way more eager to see are documentaries about ordinary Asian Americans fighting stereotypes. It's a fight I've been a part of in some capacity. Nearly everything I do (even something as insignificant as writing a barely-being-read-by-anybody post for this insignificant and soon-to-go-completely-inactive blog) is some sort of clapback against Asian stereotypes, which have been a pain in my ass since junior high. Filmmaker Salima Koroma's Bad Rap, a doc about Asian American rappers, was the movie I wanted to see the most last year, and now The Problem with Apu, a 49-minute doc directed by Michael Melamedoff and hosted and produced by comedian and Politically Re-Active podcast co-host Hari Kondabolu, is the 2017 film that, despite its skimpy length and non-theatrical status, I've been anticipating the most, much more so than Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok and even Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Problem with Apu chronicles the Indian American comedian's love/hate relationship with a little-known Tracey Ullman Show spinoff called The Simpsons. Kondabolu's a Simpsons fan who loves everything about the animated franchise that was brought to life by Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and the late Sam Simon, except for one character. That would be Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian convenience store owner who, since the show's premiere in 1990 (not counting a 1989 Christmas special that was actually the eighth episode in the first season's production order, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"), has been voiced by a white guy, longtime Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria. The character is, as Kondabolu describes him in the doc, "servile, devious and goofy." Apu's shtick on the show is, as Kondabolu memorably said in an extremely funny 2012 Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell segment about his delight over the rise of Indian American representation on TV, basically "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father!"

The most interesting tidbit about Kondabolu's Totally Biased rant about Apu, which went viral and ended up being shown in high school and college classrooms, is that Kondabolu was initially reluctant to write and perform the segment because he was so tired of complaining about Apu. I like how Bell--the now-defunct FX late night show's titular host and Kondabolu's boss in the Totally Biased writers' room--had to talk Kondabolu into doing it, as if Kondabolu were Logan being dragged out of his dead-end limo driver job to unsheathe his adamantium claws one last time and protect some runaway mutant kid.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Can't Believe I've Never Seen It Till Now!: House (1977)

An updated-in-2020 version of the following blog post can be found in If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You: The Movies and TV Shows Some of Us Regretted Not Catching Until Later. The 2020 book was written and self-published by yours truly. Get the paperback edition of If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You now!


This is the 13th of 15 all-new blog posts that are being posted on a monthly basis until this blog's final post in December 2017. I know I said "monthly basis" all through 2017, and instead, there ended up being two posts this October and three back in August, but I guess I discovered that in August and now October, I found plenty of shit I wanted to write about before I call it quits. "I Can't Believe I've Never Seen It Till Now!" is a series of posts in which I reveal that I never watched a certain popular or really old movie until very recently, and that's largely because I'm Filipino, we're always late to the party and that's how we do.

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 Japanese box-office hit House is the kind of film that, had it been made in 2017, would have ended up being the subject of various audience reaction videos by YouTubers who want to show how confused and bewildered the audience members look while trying to process the extremely weird shit they're watching. Not to be confused with the 1985 American horror comedy of the same name and the long-running Hugh Laurie vehicle of the same name, Obayashi's J-horror oddity was largely unknown in America until 2010, when Janus Films introduced the Toho Studios flick in theaters to American film geeks and the Criterion Collection released it on Blu-ray. Both a Phil Chung blog post for YOMYOMF (his post is basically "I don't know what the fuck I saw, but I loved it!") and a Trailers from Hell commentary track for the film's 1977 trailer made me want to see House.

House is definitely the most unconventional haunted-house movie I've ever seen. I was expecting a Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky-type bloodbath with a bit of a Battle Royale-style attitude about not giving a fuck about brutally killing off so many innocent-looking Japanese teens.

What I got instead was something stranger than Riki-Oh. I believe I have a clip of myself reacting to every scene in House:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bad Rap is a timely and often funny look at Asian American rappers who want to have a radio hit like P-Lo or Far East Movement do

Dumbfoundead in Bad Rap

A longer and heavily-updated-in-2020 version of the following blog post can be found in If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You: The Movies and TV Shows Some of Us Regretted Not Catching Until Later. The 2020 book was written and self-published by yours truly. Get the paperback edition of If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You now!


This is the 12th of 14 or 15 all-new blog posts that are being posted on a monthly basis until this blog's final post in December 2017.

Back in 2011, I typed out an outline for a graphic novel or screenplay I wanted to someday write about the Minneapolis rock music scene in 1985, and the story was to be told from the point of view of a female Filipino American Prince fan who leads a band of otherwise all-male musicians called the Beautifully Complex Women. In the outline, I explained that a rumor spreads around Minneapolis that Prince, the city's favorite son, is looking for a new act to sign to his Paisley Park label, and the Beautifully Complex Women and a whole bunch of other local bands vie, often over-aggressively, for the attention of the unseen Purple One.

I called the script idea The Beautifully Complex Women. It was going to be my way of exploring why it's so difficult for Asian American artists--whether they're the power pop band Moonpools & Caterpillars in the '90s or the Philly rap group Mountain Brothers in the early 2000s--to find mainstream success in the recording industry:

Bad Rap, African American filmmaker Salima Koroma's 2016 documentary about the various hardships Asian American rappers have to deal with in the industry, covers all those above questions and more in a lean, efficient and enjoyably provocative manner that makes me say, "Wow, I think I'll let this 1985 Minneapolis battle-of-the-bands script idea remain a script idea." Her film turned out to be better than my script idea.

Koroma's documentary was the 2016 film I most eagerly wanted to watch last year, even more so than a tentpole blockbuster like Captain America: Civil War or a critics' darling like Moonlight. (Sorry, Barry Jenkins.) Now Bad Rap is streamable on Netflix after a run on the festival circuit, and, man, the doc was worth the wait.

Bad Rap producer Jaeki Cho and director Salima Koroma

Bad Rap, which was crowdfunded on Indiegogo, took Koroma and Korean American producer Jaeki Cho--the (now-former) manager of one of the film's four main subjects--three and a half years to make. The doc follows four Asian American spitters who either have often toured together or have done guest features on each other's tracks.

The amiable and quick-witted Jonathan Park, who's now in his thirties, was an L.A. skater kid who, as a teen, stumbled into the battle rap scene--the Detroit version of the battle rap scene was famously depicted in 8 Mile--and fell in love with the art form, or as I like to call battle rap, "Don Rickles insult humor by people who, unlike Rickles, have rhythm." Park, a.k.a. Dumbfoundead, is a hero in L.A.'s Koreatown (judging from his music videos and YouTube shorts, he is to K-town what De Niro is to New York: the unofficial mayor) and in battle rap circles, but he's unknown elsewhere. Bad Rap reveals--and I wasn't previously aware of this--that Drake is a fan of Dumbfoundead's battle raps, which makes me like Drake a little more.