San Diego Asian Film festival

The San Diego Asian Film Festival started yesterday and it was a great time.  This annual event is important to help spread Asian culture and awareness, topics still very much lacking in mainstream America.  It’s paramount that we support these types of events, otherwise, our stories as Asians and Asian Americans–as real people–remain unheard.  These films are usually low budget, marketed primarily through word of mouth, and has a cast which includes Asians in multi-dimensional roles, unlike their American counterparts.

This festival is definitely a spectacle not to be missed.  Christmassy-lights are hung up all over the theatre and when you walk the red carpet, you feel like you’re the  star–just remember to smile and keep your posture upright!  Just follow the line of paparazzi with their cameras ready to snap pictures and the several important-looking people in casual conversation dressed in suits and slacks.  Mini booths here and there have a staff more than happy to assist you to take a survey, spin and win a prize, browse the Asian DVDs vendors have on display.  Go ahead and whiff up the smell of boba, sushi, or other treats emanating from the room.  And while you’re at it, grab an Asian dude, I mean some Asian food:)

And if you are star struck then OMG!, this is the place to catch sight of one: John Cho, Dustin Nguyen, Leonardo Nam, Justin lin…you name it.  Various panels and award recognitions are presented so you’re guaranteed a sighting.

It was about this time last year where I made my first post on this San Diego Asian Film Festival, and I’m reminded of the film Ip Man.  Without this festival, I would have never heard of the movie, let alone see it in an actual theatre surrounded by enthusiastic fans.  Now it is my all-time favorite martial arts film.  I’m going to write a blog/review solely about this film.  All I have to say for now is, watch it!

Go to San Diego Asian Film Festival to see the schedule of films, even if you can’t attend, because you can get an idea of what films to look for on DVD.

Here are a couple of the more-talked about films:

Legend of the Fist: a martial arts flick starring Donnie Yen

Ip Man 2: needs no introduction:)…if you only see one Asian film in your life, this is the one!  Heroism, Chinese philosophy, Eastern concepts of restraint, zen, and the power of qi–it’s all there.

Time Traveller: Girl who Leapt Through Time: a story based on a hugely successful
Japanese novel

Goemon: a fantasy about a 16th century Japanese ninja

Bodyguards and Assassins: Revolutionaries from China defend their leader from the Emperor’s hired killers, starring several big-name actors.

Air Doll: A blow-up doll falls in love with a store clerk; story about the loss of innocence

City of Life and Death: the important period in Chinese history known as the “Rape of Nanking”; the first of its kind ever done

The Photograph: an Indonesian film about two lonely people finding a connection

Au Revoir Taipei: a love story taking place over one night; winner of numerous awards

Fool for Love: a romantic comedy starring Asian heartthrob Dustin Nguyen of 21 Jump Street back in the day; highest grossing film in Vietnam in 2009.  This one’s not to be missed!

Update: 10/25/10

I went to the festival Thursday through Sunday and watched 5 films.  Here’s a quick summary of the ones I really liked.

Bodyguards and Assassins: WOW!  This film completely blew me away and exceeded my expectations.  The portrayal of a group of revolutionaries kept me engaged throughout–the perfect example of heroism at its finest.  Filled with with action and intrigue and has an epic quality coloring the film throughout.  How the filmmaker showed the importance of each moment leading to the safe passage for Sun Yet Sen was truly spectacular.  Fans of Chinese history, especially of historic events that shaped China’s future, will appreciate this film.  Plus, the hot actors are a bonus:)

Fool for Love: A very over-the-top and funny Vietnamese comedy.  The main characters played by Dustin Nguyen and Kathy Uyen were perfectly cast.  Their charisma and rapport shines.  Interesting note on Kathy…I saw her before on some panel featuring Asian Americans and didn’t think much of her.  Then her name started popping up more and more and, suddenly, this once ordinary-to-me girl evolved into a real beauty.  This film captured her essence, captivating charisma, and physical beauty.  Films have a way of turning regular people into larger-than-life characters.  My point is it’s great to see everyday people, especially Asians, given their chance to shine in the spotlight.

On another note, the only film I attended that was sold out is Fool for Love.  Even for Bodyguards and Assassins, the theatre was only about 65-70% full.  I like a full audience so please help spread the word…

Love Asian, Support Asian!   and if you don’t, here’s your chance to FINALLY open you horizons.  Be adventurous!

Summer in San Diego

Here is the final part of my “summer in San Diego” blog.  Boy, what a summer this has been.  And with the weather only starting to really heat up, summer doesn’t have to end.  Leave out those white tank tops, bright bikinis, and short shorts for an extended summer.  The heat should last until the end of the year so there’s plenty of time to cool off at the beach, go on a roadtrip or two, partake in a summer fling or a bit of romance.

Freedom encapsulates the essence of summer.  There’s time to try a new sport or taste a different kind of food, meet that boy, or girl, who has managed to elude you the previous 8 months, spend lazy days on the beach licking ice cream cones under sweltering heat.   More freedom, more time = happy people.  Summer is when we let down our guard, if only a bit, but just enough for possibility to seep in.

This summer I spent much of my time surfing in Coronado, a island city pretty much attached to San Diego via the San Diego-Coronado Blue Bridge.  Class met on Monday and Wednesday from 5:30-8:00pm, allowing for plenty of time to surf, glisten in my new tan, catch a radiating sunset.  A surfing class on Monday was perfect to start off the week on a high note.  I felt energized the rest of the week.

The drive to Coronado calmed me in a I’m-taking-a-vacation-and-leaving-my-worries-behind kind of way.  The Coronado Bridge turned into a blue rainbow where a pot of magic greeted me on the other side.  My favorite sight on this rainbow was towards the end where a patch of palm trees swayed in the tiny cove and sailboats rested along the sand while their cousins bopped in the turquoise water.  An occasional pelican or seagull flew by the vanilla sky and sent streaks of light catching my eyes.  No wonder I never noticed the sight of Hotel del Coronado upon reaching the end of the rainbow.  I must have thinking about my little getaway and girls.

The highlight of my days was, of course, surfing.  I had trouble at first, but like anything else in life, I continued trying and learned not just to surf, but that persistence is more important than ability.  The final week of class was the most thrilling.  I surfed with dolpins splashing in and out of the water against a freshly-tanned sky and caught many waves.

My best ride occurred on the final day as I paddled off on my favorite of the boards–the 10 footer–at just the right time to catch the wave and ride down its face.  The energy of the wave pulsated my veins.  A moment of connection with nature which I tried to grasp and hang on to as I floated towards shore.  And in that moment a spark jolted through me.  I knew I had made the most out of my summer.

This entire summer felt like a two-month boot camp where my body endured serious hardcore training.  Besides surfing, I also had a volleyball and dance class.  Connecting the dots, you have a surfer who loves sports and dances for fun.  By the end of it all, I had a rock hard body that continues to sizzle, along with a tantalizing tan.  What more could a guy ask for?

Here’s a link to the non-summer schedule of classes for those who wish to have fun, get away from your daily routine, try something new: class schedule.  The watersport classes are surfing, sailing, keelboating, kayaking, and canoeing.  Other great classes include yoga, dance, softball, tennis, swimming, volleyball, etc.

I’ll definitely be back when the time is right and maybe I’ll even see a few of you out there as I sit on a rustic, wooden bench peering off into the Pacific.  And if not, may our paths still cross one day when we finally let go of ourselves to see truth and beauty reunite.

Have a mind-blowing summer!

Hotel del Coronado

I have long awaited paying a visit to the Hotel del Coronado, as it’s only a few miles down the street from my surfing class.  For the longest time I’ve been fascinated with “the Del”.  The hold is has over me strengthens every time I’m reminded of romance, pastoral settings, glamour, a picture-perfect spot.

I parked right across from the Del and began walking around.  The string of Victorian homes here is eye-catching: cone-shaped towers, white verandas, tiny wooden benches, sharply-defined angles.  Across the street stretches miles of white-sand beach sprinkled with patches of mini sand dunes.  The perfect place to people watch while soaking in a bit of sun.

After my quick stroll I headed back to the Del freshly tinged with sea mist.  My skin must have been glowing.  My mission was to explore every corner of the inside of the Del.

The first thing you notice after entering is the HUGE crystal chandelier suspended from above, creating a surreal environment.  I made my way towards the stairs next to attendant-operated elevator and found myself on the second floor greeted by long, off-white hallways.

The higher up you go the lower the ceiling and smaller the doors, as if you’re a giant in Munchkin Land.  Here, the floors creak and sounds appear and dissipate at random.  The stillness of the air adds to the enigmatic aura.  I thought about the ghost of Kate Morgan and goosebumps appeared.  I racked my brain wondering what room number she inhabits.

On the top floor were some very narrow hallways complete with various look-out points with a unique view to each one:  pine trees and sailboats moored in the harbor, a glittering white sand beach, buildings and the Coronado Blue Bride.  I wondered which vantage point L. Frank Baum had when he supposedly used his stay at the Del as inspiration to creating

Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Later, I sauntered over to the Mahogonay-wood railing by the stairs and the attendant offered me a ride back down on the birdcage elevator.

The door to the grand ballroom was open so I hopped in.  A carpet of white-petalled flowers swelled from the center of the room.  Crystal chandeliers dotted the vaulted ceiling.  On the far end, glass windows offered a stunning view of the deck and Coronado Beach.  At once, I became part of a work-in-progress painting.

With the door still adrift, my nose caught scent of something sweet.  I followed the aroma of waffle cone and vanilla ice cream past a corridor and ended up at Moo Time Creamery.  I wish I could have stayed longer to reminisce, ponder about life and girls…but I had a destination to get to.

A final “summertime” blog to wrap up my summer on my next blog…

San Diego Surfer Boy

Yes it’s true, yours truly finally caught a wave!  I really struggled the first 2 weeks of class and couldn’t even catch one wave.  I kept at it and by the third week I caught my first wave and have been “easily” catching them ever since.  Here’s a few things I learned…

If you’re completely new to surfing, it takes several weeks to adjust to being in the water for long periods.  There’s the dizziness factor caused by the salt water and the rocking motion of the waves, the fatigue factor due to your body constantly being thrashed around, the balance factor of learning where and how to stand on your board, and the patience factor, which if you have it, counts for a lot as the learning curve in surfing can be high.

After adjusting to all of the above, wave selection and paddle action with your arms is very important.  Catching the right wave at the right time can be done with minimal effort if you remember to paddle several seconds before the wave even approaches, as your momentum will carry you forward, and hopefully place you on the wave.

In my experience catching a wave before it breaks was too difficult.  I had wanted the bigger waves, paddling out further than I should have gone.   Then one day I decided to just ride the whitewater (a wave after it has already broken) and that’s when I caught my first wave (actually it’s more like the wave catching me, but it’s all the same once I was on it).  You can catch a wave on whitewater all without even paddling.  Angle yourself towards shore and if the whitewater is coming in fast enough, get on your board, putting more weight towards the back than the front so you don’t nosedive after catching the wave.  Balance, balance, balance, and your first wave will be had!

After I caught several waves riding on whitewater, I felt confident maneuvering myself around.  Only then did I paddle further out and actually catch a wave right after it broke.  I’ve been catching them ever since, although it’s only been about a week:)

There’s this truly amazing, exhilarating feeling you get the instant you’re standing on your board and riding a wave.  The experience is like walking on water.  You keep thinking you’re gonna fall (and at first you do) but then you manage to center yourself and suddenly you’re gliding on water.

I caught my first wave on a 8.5-foot long board.  Just yesterday I tried out a 10-footer and WOW, the experience is even more stimulating.  I felt much more connected to the wave and was reminded of how small I am.

This blog is the third part in my “summer” blog.  I’ve been tinkering around with different usernames and finally found the perfect one with “romanticasianguy” to hint at where I’m coming from.  The first and second part of my original blog is San Diego Summer Vacation 2010: sun, sand, surf and Coronado Blues.