Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day

Single White Feline by BBC Comedy

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hell's Game is free to download on Amazon starting today, October 27, 2014 and ending October 31, 2014

Today, Hell's Game is available to download for free on Amazon! Synopsis: On Halloween night in Deer Creek, Kansas, Jake Victor, Ashley and Ashton Gemini, and Kristin Grace convince Ronnie Smalls to meet them at the town cemetery, which local folklore has always rumored to be the Gateway to Hell. Their intention was only to scare him, but soon the wicked prank becomes actual horror as the group learns the Gateway is all too real. After demons snatch Ronnie and drag him to Hell, the terrified foursome vow to keep what they had seen a secret.

Two years later, the group receives a mysterious letter, an invite to play a high-stakes game in Hell. If they win, they release Ronnie’s soul as well as their own from eternal damnation. If they lose, they are stuck in Hell forever. Choosing to play, they face nightmare after nightmare as each level escalates in intensity and forces them to face the seven deadly sins.

Inspired by the legends of the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas, Hell’s Game explores the cruelty that teenagers can inflict upon each other as well as the horrors that exist amongst mankind. It is a dark, action-packed young adult novel that will both scare its readers and make them question the true meaning of evil.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I will never be cool with Asian jokes. Never.

I grew up in Coffeyville, a small town in Southeast Kansas. Being Chinese-American, I stuck out amongst my peers, and as a youth, that's a terrible thing because it puts a huge target on your already insecure back. To grasp an idea of how much my Asian eyes and tan skin contrasted with everyone else's physical appearance, here's a fun fact. According to Wikipedia, the racial population of Coffeyville in 2000 was 75.76% white, 12.12% African-American, and .60% Asian. Yes, that's right. People who looked like me made up less than 1% of the town.

When I was a child, I still remember when kids I didn't know would pull out their eyes or call me "ching chong" or "chink eyes," and when I'd look scared and uncomfortable, they'd bust up laughing, feeding off the excitement of their bullying. These kids were clearly laughing at me, not with me; and their tireless "You eat dogs and cats!" "You can't drive!" "You all look a like!" jokes seemed to blur together. These strangers knew nothing about me, but because of my race, they felt that they had all the verbal ammunition in the world to hurt me.

I remember shielding from my family and friends the bullying I received because I saw my friends were harassed too--for being gay, for being black, for being poor, for being fat, etc etc. All of us were picked on for something, and we all came to the conclusion that if we kept our heads down, then the jerks would leave us alone. Or better yet, we victims would move on one day and never have to deal with our bullies again. After all, they and we were all kids. Nobody knew better then, right?

In college, I continued to face assumptions about me because of my race, but now it was no longer meant to be mean but it still bothered me nonetheless. These tiny aggressions came my way through  digs brought upon by people I barely knew: classmates, teachers, friends of friends. "You're fake Chinese!" "You're a banana! Yellow on the outside and white on the inside!" "Did you not understand the assignment because English is your second language?" (How can I be accused of being wannabe white and yet also so Asian that I couldn't speak English correctly?) However, because these people were not trying to be cruel like my schoolyard bullies, I tried to play off their questions and comments by being cool, accepting. I laughed it off. I even made Asian jokes myself to fit in, but all the while, I avoided making stereotypical jokes about other groups. I knew how shitty it felt, so why would I pay that negativity forward? Yet, despite my own need to be respectful of others, I couldn't help but wonder: why was my race always the punchline? Why was I never treated with the respect and dignity that I gave to other people?

As the years went by, I learned to be more assertive with respecting myself. This was ironic to me because from a young age I could champion various other issues such as women's rights; but when it came to putting my foot down by not laughing or tolerating sophomoric Asian jokes, this proved to be a harder endeavor. After all, I had accepted the jokes before. Why was I so "sensitive" now? As an adult, shouldn't I be more able to relax and  just let things go?

The answer is no. Forcing people to accept things that truly bothers them doesn't mean that they will stop being bothered. It only means that they'll resent the other party, and the offending party won't know they're doing anything wrong so they won't stop. It's a lose-lose. By speaking up, you're starting a conversation. Sometimes the other person is willing to listen; other times, he or she is a dick and tells you to shut up. The latter happened to me recently.

Years ago I worked in an office with comedian Andrew Santino, who later became the star of ABC's Mixology, and according to IMDB, he is in the pilot of CBS's much hyped How I Met Your Mother spin-off How I Met Your Dad. I was one of nearly 15,000 of his Facebook fans until I saw him post a picture of an Asian woman taking a selfie using a selfie stick. The picture was hilarious, but it was the caption that made me cringe. "Check out this oriental...I mean continental breakfast #selfrie." The use of the slur "oriental" bothered me, but it was that combined with the hashtag of "selfrie" that really took this post to another level on the racist scale.

Did he assume this young woman, dining alone in an American restaurant, was not a native English speaker? Because after all, we Asians all cannot pronounce words correctly, right? I mean, that's exactly what my seventh grade bully would convey when he pulled his eyes and bowed at me while saying, "Flied Lice! Flied Lice!" To those who think the image of my seventh grade bully bowing is funny; yes, it kind of is in hindsight because it's so fucking stupid. But that's the point. These tired Asian jokes are so fucking stupid and juvenile that a seventh grader did them first.

Analyzing Santino's action further, this girl appears to be dining alone, not with him. She's not his friend. She's some random "oriental" that he, a celebrity, snapped a secret photo of and then belittled by calling her a racial slur and making fun of her assumed accent to 15,000 people. If that's not cyber bullying, I don't know what else is.
Andrew Santino: "Check out this oriental...I mean continental breakfast #selfrie"
I debated not saying anything because it was his page, therefore it's his house to do anything he wants. Plus, he's a comedian. He's obviously making a joke. I should've just let it slide, right?

But I couldn't. As I age, the more I'm able to understand why stereotypical racial jokes are so bothersome. It's not just that they are mean, but they are disrespecting who a person is at his or her core. What they look like. What their family looks like. Their family's history. Their culture. No matter who you are or what you want to be, your race is part of your identity; and it is something that you cannot change. Ever. When Santino made fun of that girl's vanity, it was funny because she chose to bring a selfie stick into a crowded restaurant. That was her choice. But mocking her race, or someone's sexual identity, or a person's disability, those are things beyond a person's control and therefore below the belt.

After considering the pros and cons of opening myself up to the scorn of a comedian's fanbase, network, or of him himself, I finally posted an even-tempered message: "She's being ridiculous, but was it necessary to use the slur "oriental." That's as mean spirited as calling her a "gook" or a "chink" and I really didn't expect that from you..." Although Santino never responded, one of his fans, Keven Meyer, fairly quickly told me that he'd get me a "warm glass of shut the hell up" and another guy, Afshin Kargar, sarcastically said I "must be fun at parties." I tried to get Meyer and Kargar to explain why they thought Santino's caption's use of the slur was okay, but they didn't respond to my questions either.
And that's the thing, no one but me and a few others seemed bothered by Santino's caption (although I did think it was awesome that the majority of comments by his fans made fun of the girl's action, not her race.) And this Facebook post was nothing compared on the grand scale of the history of Asians being disrespected, only to have their voices dismissed when expressing their frustration. Filmmaker Laurie Tsou shared a story of how surprised she was when a white filmmaker pulled at his eyes when talking to her at a film event. She told him she was offended, and he responded with a lengthy email criticizing her for being upset. Recently in Seattle, a theater group performed The Mikado in yellowface reminiscent of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's; and when an Asian-American writer criticized the production, angry commenters attacked her instead. Gwen Stefani set the trend of a white woman using another race as "cute" props with her Harajuku Girls, and according to Time, these four women were contractually obligated to follow her around and only speak Japanese in public. When Margaret Cho called out Stefani for her Asian "minstrel show," Stefani never apologized, and according to Time, to this day, Stefani continues making money on her line of Harajuku products. Ironically enough, Stefani and her band No Doubt pulled the music video for "Looking Hot," where they portrayed cowboys and Indians, after they were slammed by Native Americans. So what does this message say? That other groups can demand respect, but Asians just have to take it?
Stefani paved the way for white women to use minority women as props. Photo courtesy of MTV
My hope is that we're now in an era where more people will speak up when these aggressions and micro-aggressions occur, not just to Asians but to people in general. After all, respect and kindness should always be fought for; and unoriginal, unspecific, and unfunny stereotypes should no longer be defended and distributed to mass audiences. That crap is not entertainment. It's outdated and lazy and audiences deserve better.

Thus I will continue to not "be fun at parties," as Afshin Kargar said; but I will never shut up like Kever Meyer wanted either.

To further reiterate how  these "jokes" can indeed cross a line, I will leave you with this scene from The Nutty Professor, which is a pretty accurate representation of what it feels like when someone rips you to shreds all in the name of "comedy."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hell's Game is free to download from October 27, 2014 to October 31, 2014

Just in time for Halloween! My bestselling young adult novel, Hell's Game  will be free for a limited time! From Monday October 27, 2014 to Halloween 2014, download Hell's Game on Amazon to your Kindle, mobile phone, or computer. It's a $7.99 value. What are you waiting for?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" at Planet Hollywood

On Wednesday, October 15, Britney Spears performed her show "Piece of Me" at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas; and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance. Britney began her show with an introductory video followed by her performing "Work Bitch" with dancers wearing silver futuristic costumes. She followed that musical number with over twenty of her hits from the past sixteen years. These songs included "…Baby One More Time," "Toxic," "Perfume," and "Lucky;" and almost every upbeat performance brought the mostly late 20s to early 40s crowd to its feet.
Britney performs "Circus." Photo by Rebecca Lo

Although Britney never once sang live and her songs did not seem to deviate at all from the versions on her CDs,  everyone loved her dancing, costume changes, and special effects. The only real disappointment of her nearly hour and a half set was that there were no screens set up to view close-ups of her face, which was more than likely due to the fact that Britney lip syncs and somebody thought the audience shouldn't see that. But, that's the thing. EVERYONE KNOWS BRITNEY DOESN'T SING LIVE.

But who cares? No one gives a shit. When Britney had her mental breakdown, we, her fans, supported her. When she had a rough performance at the VMAs in 2007, we reasoned that it was a warm up until she got back on her game. When people try to criticize her, we attack. Britney has been a standard in many people's lives since their youth, and seeing her entertain is a reminder of those days. Although Britney may not have the ability to belt out songs while dancing, she is still an incredibly charismatic performer who delivers nostalgia and a fun time.

Lucky for fans, she'll be rocking at Planet Hollywood until 2017, according to Daily Mail.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Superstar legal author John Grisham backpedals on his child pornography statements

Today John Grisham issued an apology on his Facebook for statements he made in regards to child pornography punishments. In case you missed it, Grisham said the following during an interview to promote his new book Gray Mountain:
"We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," Grisham said to The Telegraph. "But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn."
Um, I've been drunk numerous times in my life, but I have never "accidentally" just wandered on to a child pornography site. In fact, if someone wants to view that type of illegal material, they have to go on a perverted fishing expedition; one that doesn't just happen by pushing "the wrong buttons." In Grisham's The Telegraph interview, he then shares a story of a friend who was caught in a child porn sting to illustrate how absurdly excessive punishments are for people who watch child pornography:
"His [Grisham's friend's] drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. He shouldn't ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: ‘FBI!’ and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people - sex offenders - and he went to prison for three years."
Uh…Does Grisham think it's okay that his drunk friend wanted to get with teenage hookers? How can he condone the behavior of this friend, and how can he sympathize with viewers of child pornography? Those viewers are the reasons that the industry that exploits and abuses children exists because if there was no audience, there would be no demand. Therefore, viewing child pornography is not a victimless crime; and Grisham thinking that just because his friend didn't "touch anything" meant he wasn't participating in an exploitive endeavor truly baffles and grosses me out. 

See Grisham's apology below. Although he appears to want to wash away his previous statements, I doubt anyone will ever forget them. I never will. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm revisiting my old Examiner dating articles and posting them on The Daily T.Lo

Old me used to give bad dating advice. Me and Paige 2011
I used to have a dating column on Examiner in 2011, and at the time, I was considered by an audience of 1,000 readers to be an expert in navigating the weird world of online dating, which at the time was viewed to be a slightly embarrassing way to meet someone new. Flash forward a few years, and not only does it seem as if everyone is using online sites to date or hook up, but now online dating is a trendy topic amongst singles. What singleton today HASN'T tried Tinder, Grinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Okcupid, EHarmony, Match, Hinge, the list goes on.  It's as much of a part of the millennial culture as texting or switching jobs every couple of years.

It's funny to me that I will sometimes reread my old Examiner advice, and I'll laugh at how wrong my ideas seem to me now. For instance, I used to advocate that all first dates with someone you meet online should take place in a coffee shop because the dates are inexpensive, casual, and provide an easy exit strategy. I'm now horrified that I championed that. Coffee? On a first date? That's not romantic at all, and a coffee date is basically a meeting, which is not going to lead to any romantic feelings. The beginning of a relationship should be when two people put their best foot forward, not a casual hour in one's schedule. That means the guy should plan a date and pick a location convenient to the girl; and the location should be dimly lit, nicer than a usual spot, and most of all not cheap. This doesn't mean he should be spending a fortune, but he also must send a signal to his date that he cares to make a good first impression, just as a job seeker would dress their best for an interview. Yeah, it all sounds old-fashioned; but quite frankly, there's just certain social interactions that  work with people and have been working since the beginning of time *hyperbole, deal with it.*

Hoping to redeem myself as a dating expert, I'm revising some of my dating columns, and I'm publishing them on The Daily T.Lo. If you have any tips or story ideas, please email me at tloclub @

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Attention all screenwriters! Universal Pictures accepting applications for writing fellowship

Taken from the Universal Pictures' Emerging Writers Website:

"Universal Pictures’ will accept applications for the fellowship beginning on October 21, 2014.  Interested applicants should submit an original screenplay as well as additional application materials (listed below) in order to be considered.  All semi-finalists will then be asked to submit a second screenplay and complete a phone interview with members of the admission committee.  Ten finalists will be selected and interviewed in Los Angeles.  Up to five fellows will be chosen to participate in the program."

To apply, click here. Good luck!