Posted 8 hours ago

Confronting your Identity Mid-conversation



This is a thing I wrote in April of 2014. Reposting it here so everything is in one place.

We’re making a slow cooked brisket in barbecue sauce. The slow cooker is small though, and we don’t want to make too much, so I need to cut this big, frozen chunk of brisket in half (technically it’s a quarter, the other half was used to make corned beef a while ago). It’s pretty thick and I’m not gonna wait until the whole thing defrosts. I’m pretty sure it’s not good for anything to defrost then refreeze. There’s a knife I have that’s perfect for this situation. It’s tucked away underneath where we keep the oven mitt because it doesn’t get used very much. I move the oven mitt out of the way and pull out the cleaver. It’s got a round handle and thick, heavy blade.

I bought this thing in San Francisco Chinatown a few years back. It was in one of those stores that sells a bunch of household items and it probably had a name that had the words “Trading Company” in it. I knew I wanted to buy a cleaver because I didn’t have one at the time, and that seems like a thing that I oughta have. They had three boxes of cleavers. Tiny, medium, and huge. I went with huge. At the time I probably had no business buying this thing, it’s massive and way too heavy for day to day use. I’m the second customer in line. The lady at the register conducts business with the person in front of me in Cantonese. I approach and set the knife down, feeling a little bit silly, some combination of buyer’s remorse and awkward shame. She rings it up and tells me the total. The woman behind her says in Cantonese, “What’s this kid buying such a big knife for?”

I am Chinese American. My father was born in Guangdong (Hoi Ping to be more precise) and moved to Hong Kong when he was a child, during the Cultural Revolution. My mother’s family is from Chiuchow, also in Guangdong, but they moved to Vietnam before the war happened. (Given these two things, I have a whole lot of weird feelings about Communism but that’s another essay at some point.) When my dad’s side of the family moved over he bounced around between the East, West, and island parts of the US before settling in San Francisco. My mother’s family escaped during the war, holed up in a refugee camp in Kuala Lumpur for a while, before being taken in to the United States. They fought their way through immigrant life, both landing in finance.

I’m not fluent in Cantonese. I can understand more than I can speak more than I can read more than I can write. I’m not going to say that the history of my parents are the only reason for this, but it’s probably part of it. By the time I was born both my parents had already been in this country long enough to have careers and the language skills necessary for those careers. The first language that I spoke was Cantonese, but when you’re raised in a bilingual household and go to schools where only one of those languages is spoken, you’re probably gonna speak that one. So here I am with my Chinese heritage, broken Cantonese, and parents who collectively speak: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese. Enter Sleeping Dogs.

Sleeping Dogs is a fantastic game and anybody who says otherwise clearly hasn’t seen one Vinny Caravella play it. The combat is good, the vehicles are servicable, and the juxtaposition between normal life and near-comical brutal murder are fantastic. The story is a little by the book, especially if you’ve spent any time watching Hong Kong Triad movies, so I don’t blame people for writing it off. In spite of that, Wei struck me in a way that no other character has.

How often do you get a character whose background is so similar to yours? Sure, the particulars are a little different. Wei Shen was born in Hong Kong, I was born in the US. Wei’s father wasn’t around because he walked out on their family, mine wasn’t because he co-founded company when I was young (he’s been around a little more as he’s easing into retirement age, but he used to work 7AM to 11PM). Wei’s a little older than me, gets out a lot more than me, etc. etc. Close enough though.

In a personality profile on Wei, he is described as having “chameleon-like” tendencies because he moved to the US as an adolescent and didn’t have a strong father figure. It’s not often that I experience a piece of media and reflect that back on myself, but here was a mirror staring me straight in the face. I don’t keep friends very well, but I usually blend into a group pretty quickly. It describes him as using excessive violence and personal vendettas being a motivation. I’m not a violent person anymore and certainly never was enough for somebody to affix the word “excessive” in front of my actions, but my blood gets boiling pretty darn quick when I feel like somebody has wronged me.

So here’s a character whose background is similar to mine, that I psychologically identify with a whole lot. Hey here’s a weird thing, I don’t ever remember Wei speaking Cantonese. In fact, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t for the entire game. Obviously there were concessions to be made here. There was probably a writer somewhere who was all “We have a Chinese main character in Hong Kong, he’s gotta speak Cantonese!” and some business man was like “But you see, this chart says if the main character doesn’t speak English for the whole game then we’re going to sell this much less.” Then the writer had to live with it, because that’s how big games are made. Let’s push that out of this world of fake Hong Kong though, and pretend that Wei is speaking English to everybody he talks to. What would his motivation?

When I need to speak Cantonese, it’s like pouring water the wrong way through a funnel. Phrases, words, and colloquialisms that I’ve tried to grasp wash over me, and what comes out of my mouth is a stupid fraction of the thought that I started with. I love the idea of speaking it though, so every time I need to use it I go through the same cycle. I get excited at the prospect to finally use it in conversation, I pour water through the dumb end of a funnel, I bury my soul in shame and promise that I’ll learn more and get better. This cycle was clearer than ever when my godparents came to visit last year. They’re good friends of my dad’s from his time in Hong Kong. I have a godmother, a godfather, and a god-grandmother. (I guess that’s what you’d call your godmother’s mother? I call her Kai Po.) This was the last time that my Kai Po is going to be able to visit America. I think she’s in her 90’s, and it’s amazing that she was even able to make this trip. I promised myself I would get better at Cantonese so I could talk to her more this time. The water came down harder, a little more dribbled through, but that much more washed away. I knew enough to promise her that I would come visit her in Hong Kong though, and that a promise that I really hope I can make good on.

Maybe Wei feels something similar. Maybe he’s ashamed at acting like he’s integrating into this society that he’s left behind, not even by his own choice. All the time knowing that to everybody else he’s the obvious outsider trying to fit in with the cool kids. Speaking Cantonese makes him out to be a linguistic, cultural poser. So he just doesn’t. When I went to Hong Kong on a family vacation a few years back, I sure as hell didn’t.

I looked at the total on the register, she didn’t even really have to tell me how much it was. The other lady says her piece. I take out some money and pay in cash. I thank them in the most clear, precise, enunciated Cantonese that I can muster, and I get out of there.

My boyfriend has a blog now, so everyone can now read the cool things he writes! Like this! This is a cool thing he wrote that’s worth reading.

Posted 12 hours ago



its really important for men to stand up to other men who say terrible and sexist shit

because sexist men dont listen to what women have to say

literally the most important thing men can do if they want to call themselves feminist allies 

Posted 13 hours ago


thank u to my friend zevri for opening my eyes to how well so many Ron Swanson lines go with Lin.

Also made me realize how much I want Lin and Mako to have a Ron and April thing going on.

Posted 14 hours ago

ask me shit!

If you ask Alex a question, you will get a lovely doodle in return. So get to it!


ask me shit!

If you ask Alex a question, you will get a lovely doodle in return. So get to it!

Posted 1 day ago


On a scale from Sokka to Tuxedo Mask how well did your relationship with a moon princess gf turn out

Posted 1 day ago



Posted 1 day ago


For the first time ever, ChaosLife Originals Are For Sale On Etsy!

Right now, we’re offering 10 original pieces of ChaosLife linework! Whether you want a jump on the holidays, you just like them that much, or want to blackmail us later, this is your chance to nab your favorite comic in its raw form! And now that our comic production has gone almost entirely digital, these are becoming an endangered species.

All comics will come personally rubbed by a cat of your choice, guaranteed!

Posted 1 day ago
Posted 1 day ago


"It was March 5th, 1988. There was a prayer festival that day, so we thought it would be a good day to protest. It was entirely peaceful. We were only shouting three things: ‘Long live Dalai Lama,’ ‘Free Tibet,’ and ‘Bring Dalai Lama Back to Tibet.’ First they fired tear gas, and then they started shooting. A girl standing next to me got shot in the heart. We ran into the temple, but they came in and kept shooting. I saw three young boys get thrown off the roof. I was shot, but I managed to escape, and two Tibetan doctors helped remove the bullet. One of the doctors worked for the Chinese army, but she still helped me as a Tibetan. Soon there were posters of me hanging up all over town. They said I was a dangerous monk. My friends dressed me in women’s clothes. For a week, I wore lipstick and rings and long hair. But at one point I tried to visit my mother, and that is when they found me."

(Dharamshala, India)

Posted 1 day ago


Art by KOJIMA Goseki (小島剛夕 ), story by KOIKE Kazuo (小池一夫 ), Lone wolf and cub / Kozure Ookami / 子連れ狼

Posted 2 days ago


My name is Legion, for we are many.

Posted 2 days ago

LAPD Confuses Black Actress Kissing White Husband for Prostitute

African-American actress Danièle Watts claims she was “handcuffed and detained” by police officers from the Studio City Police Department in Los Angeles on Thursday after allegedly being mistaken for a prostitute.

According to accounts by Watts and her husband Brian James Lucas, two police officers mistook the couple for a prostitute and client when they were seen showing affection in public. When the officers asked Watts to produce a photo ID when questioned, she refused. Watts was subsequently handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser while the officers attempted to figure out who she was. The two officers released Watts shortly afterwards.

Watts, who played CoCo in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and currently stars in Martin Lawrence vehicle Partnersposted an account of the incident on her Facebook page: 

"As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong," wrote Watts. "I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that “authority figures” could control my BEING… my ability to BE!!!!!!!"

Watt’s husband Brian Lucas, who is white, claimed that the two were targeted by police for being an interracial couple. In a seperate post on his Facebook page, Lucas said that “from the questions that [police] asked me as D was already on her phone with her dad, I could tell that whoever called on us (including the officers), saw a tatted RAWKer white boy and a hot bootie shorted black girl and thought we were a HO (prostitute) & a TRICK (client).”

(Source: kingjaffejoffer)

Posted 2 days ago
That "man takes charge" trope also happens in HTTYD2 and that was disappointing >:I
monarobot asked

That’s unfortunate. I’ve yet to see HTTYD2. I really want to, but stuff like that is really bothersome. It’s an annoying trope. I was especially upset when it happened in The Lego Movie, because they kind of set it up to seem like the female character was gonna save everyone and I was pretty convinced that she was, but when she didn’t, that just ticked me off.

It kind of happened in Pacific Rim too, at the end, when Raleigh ejected Mako from Gipsy and made the decision for her instead of letting her take charge and help save the day alongside him, and it just became him saving the world instead of both of them.

I’m just tired of movies/tv shows where female characters are shown how badass they can be, but when the time comes, they aren’t given the chance to save the day, it’s just taken away from them and handed to the male characters. They should be given the same chances to take charge and save the day. That’s all we want. No bullshit excuses, either, because there’s literally zero reasons why they can’t.


Posted 2 days ago

My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.

And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.

Posted 2 days ago


Art of Fashion 2012, Valentino. Photographed by Erik Madigan Heck.