Posted in Personal on November 24th, 2010 by byronkho

There are 9 “court tennis” courts in the United States. One is at the Philadelphia Racquet Club. I know because Elise played a game there on Thursday and won. What is court tennis?, I asked. Court tennis is tennis inside a court, ergo the walls are in play. Squash-like.

Love this song better than Keys and crew. Ghostface not totally necessary, as Paloma is DOPE, but the man does rock a beat.

Had a conversation about Gothic novels with a PhD student majoring in the English Renaissance. The first person I’ve run into who’s heard of Ann Radcliffe, and knew that Lord George Gordon Byron had a club foot, and of that stormy week (!) on Lake Geneva which inspired the writing of Frankenstein and other horror novels from those courageous three (Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley). Did not mention that Shelley’s novels tended to be horrible regardless of “horror” as genre. And of Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel. Which I have yet to read, of course. I mentioned Wilkie’s Woman in White (including the gruesome Count Fosco) and she counteracted with Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, and of the long midnight walks (and rather horrifying encounters) that inspired the similar characters from their great novels.

UPDATE: I have bought Walpole’s Otranto, Vathek by William Beckford, the Vampyre by Polidori and a Fragment of a Novel (the idea of which Polidori stole) by Lord Byron. Will read soon.

The Elephant of Cape May was built for a property developer who built a hotel on Cape May to attract summer visitors, thereby anchoring the community. This was the one that Elise’s mother’s family worked on. Apparently, our viewing of the Elephant of Margate confused us a bit.

Room full of lawyers and doctors, and here is an online marketer and a furniture salesman. Yes! Furniture salesman’s fiancee, however, is a soon-to-be lawyer. Wish them the best at their (and her first) trip to Disney World and Universal Studios. Someone was super excited about the Harry Potter ride… Go for the tequila in Epcot, I said. Go for the Michael Jackson show, I said. I think I blathered on about tax and IP law for a bit.

ITTW board gift: Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim. Aww! So thoughtful.

As if by magic, an H-Mart coupon book arrived today. Bulgogi dinner in December, my Musketeers!

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Illegal immigrant drama on FX.

Posted in Opinion on November 17th, 2010 by byronkho

From Deadline:

FX has put in development the first major series project centered on an illegal alien character, a drama from Changing Lanes writer Chap Taylor about an illegal Mexican immigrant working as a private investigator. TV and film director Rodrigo Garcia, born in Colombia, has come on board to direct and executive produce the project, described as “Traffic meets Chinatown.

Garcia is the son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The following is a response I made on Deadline (with some rewriting of messily presented argument) to the asshats who are spewing hate on the project because it involves illegal immigrants and thus should be boycotted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The point of drama is to show an area of life that has something relatable or poignant for the viewership. Now tell me that this show might not have any of that. You’re already fighting about it all; the battle is half won.

Whether you approve of illegal aliens, they are a part of American life, especially in states closer to the Mexico border – but don’t forget that large populations of illegals exist in Northern and Western cities near you, like New York, Philadelphia, St. Paul, Seattle, etc. Illegals are not just limited to “Mexicans”, lest you forget. They come here for all kinds of reasons, and are from all over the world. For those that are race-centered, remember that there are also WHITE refugees from wars (Serbia, for example), human trafficking (Russian brides, sex slaves from Eastern Europe) and even political dissidents that are too desperate to wait for humanitarian visas.

The problems they face – and the problems that are generated when they are in close contact with legal residents of these United States – are unmined areas for setting and dramatic tension and perhaps even education for those of us who don’t know anything beyond talking points on liberal or conservative media. Though the idea of a show based around illegal aliens may be distasteful to some, it doesn’t nullify the fact that there are legitimate dramatic possibilities and REAL truths for millions of people living in America, legal or not. It is a previously unexplored area that contains unlimited new material for our movie and TV producers to work with, and spin whatever way they want to.

Granted, the show might end up being terrible, or have “bleeding heart” liberal characters that ennoble the poor illegal immigrant, or prove whatever criticism you want to throw at it… but a) a show has the right to be junk; b) bleeding hearts are also Americans; and c) the show will probably not have really overt political statements since they do need to keep their advertisers and Murdoch is not known for going out on a limb for liberal statements. Point: Hispanics are a force of their own and have money to burn… not unlike every other demographic represented thus far in the forum. Their entertainment needs should be served, as their dollars mean just as much as anyone else’s in today’s America – where American merchants desperately need people to keep spending their dough to drive our economy, no matter who they are. Point: of course there are illegal immigrants that are criminals, just as there are ____ that are criminals. Fill in the blank with whatever group of people you want. Point: an illegal alien PI is not unbelievable simply because he can’t get the paperwork in order to become a real PI. Come on, he can’t get the paperwork to become a real immigrant, so who says he’s going to be a registered PI? Off the books, my friend! Point: shows about distasteful people and situations ARE popular with TV viewers – if you’re okay with Dexter, Breaking Bad, Weeds or even the casual immoralities of Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives, then you should be fine with the immoral situation of an illegal alien on TV. From an ethics/morals point of view, you can’t really argue that this show will be worse than any of the others. Or more unpatriotic or whatever else. Crime against your fellow legal human beings is “unpatriotic,” yet gangster and heist movies are praised and honored in our cinemas.

As for the idea that “Hollywood” is a leftist group of people… that may be true in a general sense, but that’s only supportable because people pay to see the “leftist” movies they churn out, thus they can afford to think how they think and act how they want to act. Don’t forget that conservatives have their own massive media machines. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and those other conservative commentators make tens of millions every year personally, and their shows and supporting stations make billions from advertisers based on the large, large conservative viewership they have. If they wanted to make right-wing movies, and they knew they could sell, then they would make them. How about Red Dawn? The South Park movie? Patton? Any Western? Platoon? Even Gone with the Wind, for goodness sake. There are Hollywood movies that cater to right-wing tastes too.


Around the World at the Curtis Institute.

Posted in Personal on November 17th, 2010 by byronkho

Tonight: drinks at Curtis; a concert involving Kurt Weill songs (that French one was a kicker, and the soprano…. madcap genius), Japanese marimba solos, a flute-cello pairing simulating jet whistles and a virtuoso arrangement of Bernstein songs for violin and piano; and after-parties at Butcher and Singer and Morimoto. Remarkable. Even more so is the fact that Stephen Starr donated the hors d’oeuvres and extremely extended happy hour at his two classy joints. Is he trying to gain goodwill with the young (and frankly, rich) patrons of the Crescendo Club? Perhaps. Great rum and ginger. Also, those beef sticks were friggin tender. I was dreaming about pepperoncini and monterey jack cheese in mini white corn tortillas with a drop of truffle oil on top, but that didn’t come. Oh well.

Lotte Lenya singing Surabaya-Johnny from Kurt Weill’s Happy End.

Next event sounds super ridiculous, and more so because it’s free. Curtis grad Hilary Hahn (crazy good violinist) is doing the composition that won the Pulitzer Prize for Music 2010, the Violin Concerto by Curtis resident composer Jennifer Higdon. Its next stop after that is Carnegie Hall. Rumor has it that there will be a private afterparty at somebody’s lavish Center City apartment that includes a late night intimate concert by a few Curtis students. That is SO fetch.

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Avi Wisnia.

Posted in Personal on November 15th, 2010 by byronkho

Philly homeboy writes cool songs, does awesome covers, collects ridiculous band. Plays Tin Angel. I get to see him. Holler.

Cory/Julie/Avi/Alyssa/Paul/moi. Picture by Alyssa Cwanger.

More details: Fair Game with Jess, house party went so-so, and funtastic boozy nite at Kaffa and Local 44 with the Zell, Josh and JLo. No pictures :( But stories, near and dear. And lots of great beer! Including that monster 2 L one at the end. God. And Christine!

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My Grandmother.

Posted in Personal on November 11th, 2010 by byronkho

My grandmother passed away today. She had a rare cancer which struck unannounced, spread rapidly and took her away in the course of 5 months. She died in the hospital, knowing she was loved and cared for by the people that mattered most to her.

I only ever lived in the same city with her for 2 years, when I was in 7th and 8th grade. Before then, and even after then, she has alway been a colorful presence in my life. From her, I learned how to speak Indonesian and be comfortable with the ins and outs of the language. I practiced on her, and that practice came in handy when I would listen to the rest of the family mutter, argue and gossip – and then finally let them know that I understood. It became colorful when I found that my knowledge of the language – inherited directly from her everyday speech – was a collection of curses, insults and rough language hardly used by the toughest sailor left around the docks these days, and then even when cleaned up, was clearly the Ebonics version of Indonesian.

My favorite Grandma-Byron story has always been the house fire. When she took care of me as a baby in Hamilton, so the story goes (it’s apocryphal), she went outside the house to take care of something and inadvertently locked herself out. Speaking no English, and in an area with nobody that spoke any Indonesian, she was at a loss as to how exactly to get back inside. The doors were locked, the windows shut, and the stove was on. I was inside the house and obviously unable to help out, and my parents were away at work. Fearing the worst, and unable to fathom contacting anyone or calling the police, she broke the window (after what seemed like hours, supposedly). Which is a solid thing to do when there’s a baby involved. No fire. I lived. This story is much better than the other one from the same time. My cousin Louisa, on a visit, carried me around in her arms until the moment when she dropped me, on my head. I blame any deficiencies and faults on her.

My grandfather was a man of his times. Suave and entertaining – a born salesman – he started and grew a large shipping operation that was spun off into logistics, telecommunications and other areas by the heirs at those companies. He was an intensely successful man when he died in his late 40s. My grandmother was uneducated, and it seems to me a little magical that they were able to go together so well. Regardless of the fairytale, she compensated for any lack of education by being a pillar of womanhood – at least for her time. Modest, supportive of her children, and a good homemaker and housekeeper. Which persisted when my grandfather passed away; even into her 80s, her daily manual labor around the house was grueling. Cleanliness like godliness. She was also extremely good with money. As good Confucians, everyone gave money to Grandma. She in turn parceled out her love back to all of us in wise investments: mostly food, but whatever we needed – for the more ailing or wayward family members. Money necessary to repay a debt or two, or finance some real estate deal near and dear to her children, would all suddenly appear from Grandma’s largesse. She was shrewd with her stewardship. Nothing went to waste.

I visited her in August for her birthday. She was quiet then, which was strange and saddening, but still lucid and quite aware of everything, and of me. She had been discharged, momentarily, from the hospital, and was laying in the bed she had called her own for over 20 years. Her room was like I had always remembered. When she forced me to take naps in her room during the afternoons (back when I was a child), I remember staring at certain shadows on the wall and smelling mothballs and Chinese medicines that she kept stocked… and I looked for them as I lay down beside her in that room. She was breathing steadily, clutching the Curious George stuffed monkey I had brought with me, and looking off into the distance. Sometimes at me, and sometimes at a far off spot, like she was remembering something. She didn’t smile often, but she would smile sometimes for me. At one point, she turned, held my hand, smiled that enigmatic smile, and squeezed. I found the shadows again, and that old familiar smell came back, and I got a little drowsy there. It was nice. Later, when I got up, I felt that was our goodbye. It was just us in the room, and I had relived 25 years of knowing her, all of it coming to a head with just that one squeeze on my hand. Physical pressure, knowing she was there. Even after coming back another time and saying goodbye to her (on my way to the airport) with more words and more pomp and circumstance, I knew that one time was it, my last moment with her. Oh, I had talked with her at length at many other points, but that one moment, in its quietness and in the heartbreak it generated, was much more important. Sitting in the airplane back to Philly, I knew I’d never see her alive again. I’d hoped she would have lived longer, but I somehow knew that was not going to be the case.

There’s more, of course. She was influential far beyond what I’ve written so far, and in ways I haven’t really sat back and thought about yet. She was just there, and things that are just there have a presence and influence you can’t always describe but you know are very important. I love my grandma. I will miss her, and I will pray for her and I keep many of the things she’s said to me near and dear so that they will not be forgotten. This may not be the most eloquent eulogy, or the most fluent, but it is my eulogy for her. Goodbye, Grandma.

1990, Burlington, ON.

1994, Vancouver, BC.

2008, Vancouver, BC.

2009, Vancouver, BC.

RIP Homiez. 2010, Vancouver, BC.

Yah I Get It

Posted in Personal on November 10th, 2010 by byronkho

Into the Woods cast partying down in the green room. Photo by Doug Plummer.

I’ve seen the crazy wailing woman several times. It’s the same one, I’m sure now. Saw her on the train, walking around Penn’s campus and then just yesterday, walking on Columbus. Have no idea what she’s wailing about and if she ever stops… Not even sure what to do about it!

Was at Sidecar tonight. Had a Two Hearted and a something Cerise. Awesome beers, even though I’ve forgotten their labels. Caught up with Becs and Brian… Courtney’s in med school (!), Rola is back in CT, Sourabh wanted to do the Salman Rushdie book signing (?), Evi is back in town (working for the Mutter!). Lots of talk about the evil corporation, patent trolls, costumes (Veronica and Vault Dweller! Genius! and cheap…) and then a free round from Sidecar for “services rendered”.

Last few weeks: finished Singularity, Alpha Protocol, Force Unleashed II, Borderlands and Fallout New Vegas. Working on Stalker: Call of Pripyat (something tells me it’ll be a long time before I bother finishing that one…), Heavy Rain, Metro 2033, Dead Rising 2 and currently, Medal of Honor. Next is Call of Duty: Black Ops, and then the rush of quasi-RPGish games coming out early 2011. Back in the swing of things (now that I have time for video games…).

Movies with Jess tomorrow, Ethiopian and booze with JLo and the Zell (and hubster) on Friday, Tiff and Seaman’s shindigz on Sat. A little pissy I couldnt get Sufjan Stevens tickets, and that I missed Mumford and Sons today… didn’t even know they were in town! God!

Saw this dude Shad a few weeks ago with Astronautalis and K-Os. Magnificent rap. Canada represent!

Also Canada represent.

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After a full day of work…

Posted in Opinion on November 8th, 2010 by byronkho

“Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.”

And lost 27 pounds.

“Next weekend, more than 60 different teams from high schools and universities across the country are expected to gather at De Witt Clinton Park in New York City for the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup.

Harvard University, M.I.T, Yale, Penn State, Duke — several prestigious universities are registered for the World Cup and count quidditch among their extracurricular activities.”

Not the cool Ivies, apparently.

New find. Half-Korean too.

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More pics.

Posted in Personal on November 8th, 2010 by byronkho

Chris on the roof. A safe position, to be sure.

At the Comedy Club with Rachel… before waiting for an hour outside the former speakeasy and then heading to Whisky Village in a huff.

At Taste of Penn with Cass, Molly and Mike.

At the Alumni Breakfast. Alfredo and Pearl and such were there, but my only pic at the event was with random people I met there for the first time.

Players 75th’ with Smarcus, Maxie, JButler, B-Tran and Jooody.

Carly of the Kit-Kat Girls, uh forgot-his-name, Smarcus (again), Jody (again), SARAH MARTIN. There’s no business like…

Sofia! Deimel! At Mad4.

A bunch of pics.

Posted in Personal on November 5th, 2010 by byronkho

At Chris and Meagan’s wedding.

With Julie, Cory and Lisa at cocktails.

It’s Halloween and I’m dressed up as a model.

Rachel and JLo being (hardly) coy. I have a cameo in a mirror!

Picture perfect. We got ITTW DOWN DOWN DOWN.

Take 1, photo booth.

Take 2, photo booth. To think I almost skipped that party…

Electro & hiphop mix 2.

Posted in Personal on November 5th, 2010 by byronkho

Friday afternoon mix. Electro, some dubstep, some hiphop. Some UK and French stuff too. It was the party mix I would have liked to hear last night… but alas.

All songs on YouTube are linked.

Katy On A Mission (Remix) – Katy B & Baron Von Alias & MistaBreeze
Heartbreak on Vinyl (Chew Fu Edit) – Blake Lewis
Memories (Extended) – David Guetta Ft Kid Cudi
Starry Eyed (Penguin Prison Remix) – Ellie Goulding & Theophilus London
Louder – Katy B
Runaway – Devlin & Yasmin
Falling In Love – Ironik & Jessica Lowndes
Second Chance – Tinchy Stryder
Can’t Get Enough (Remix) – Baron Von Alias & MistaBreeze
Matchstick – Dignity & La Fouine
Bounce – Timbaland & Dr. Dre & Missy Elliott & Justin Timberlake
Super Girl – Samantha Marq & Jessie Payo
Best Behaviour – N-Dubz
Promise This – Cheryl Cole
DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love – Usher & Pitbull
One More Slam – Honorebel & Akon
Organised Chaos (Remix) – Baron Von Alias & MistaBreeze
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Don’t Let Me Fall – B.o.B
Love The Way You Lie – Eminem & Rihanna