The Random Access Information Blog has moved to a new URL address. You can find new posts at:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Welcome to the Future of Hong Kong

HONG KONG, December 24 – Saw a trio of mannequins that freaked me out at the Hong Kong Museum of Science. They projected video face onto the lifeless humanoid forms and gave them voices in order to narrate the exhibit. It was very trippy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Advertising in Hong Kong: Movie Stars, Pop Singers, and Clark Kent

Large Billboard Ad for Gary Chaw’s (曹格) Tour. It’s sponsored by Johnnie Walker.

HONG KONG, December 24 – Marketing and advertisements say a lot about a people. They highlight the best values of a culture as well as its shallowness. In Hong Kong, the corporate graffiti is everywhere you look. Your eyes can’t escape a product pitch or a public service announcement. Most Hong Kong denizens do their best to ignore them. I, on the other hand, obsess over their meaning and over-analyze their subtext. I also document them on this blog.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Adventures in Dim Sum

Glutinous rice and Chinese sausage.

HONG KONG, December 23 – When I’m in Hong Kong, I always look for the most creative and tastiest dim sum dishes in town. The competition is extremely intense with the countless number of tea houses and restaurants lining every major thoroughfare. The financial survivals of these establishments are reliant on their ability to innovate, steal, and borrow. Unlike their Western counterparts, the chefs here don’t rely on the same classic favorites like a simple cheong fun (腸粉) or shaomai (燒賣). They keep redefining the notion of dim sum in an effort to constantly improve their menu. Here are some of my favorite little discoveries.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hong Kong's Sidewalk Comics

Hong Kong History Museum Exhibit of a Comic Book Lending Library

HONG KONG, December 22 – After the Second World War, Hong Kong children used to spend their free time at the local sidewalk comic book lending library. They paid 5-10 cents to burrow a single comic book. The vendors of the library would also set-up a row of tiny benches to accommodated their pint-sized clientele. These kids were hardcore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Dub in Full Force

Left to Right: Brian Blade, Daniel Lanois, Trixie Whitley, and Jim Wilson

NEW YORK, November 17 – I usually don’t post two similar pieces back-to-back on this blog, but I'm making an exception. After being blown away by Black Dub’s stripped down show at the CMJ Music Marathon, I decided to attend their full band performance at the Bowery Ballroom.

I was eager to see the complete band including Brian Blade and Daryl Johnson. They were a super group jam band therefore the live performance is supposed to be top notch. I was already somewhat familiar with Brian Blade’s solo work, and I always admired his skills behind a drum set. Also Daryl Johnson was pretty amazing on the Black Dub recording.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HUSH is Found

American Dreamer

NEW YORK, November 19 – The Angel Orensanz Foundation hosted a brief gallery exhibition for British street artist HUSH. The current series of paintings is titled “Found”. In the past, the artist has been known to combine elements of graffiti art, anime, manga, and Asian pop culture.

Found in the City

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black Dub: Stripped Down and Devastating

Left to Right: Daniel Lanois and Trixie Whitley

NEW YORK, October 23 – While I was attending the CMJ Music Marathon to see other indie acts, I checked their overall schedule of performances and noticed Black Dub was set to play on Saturday evening. Black Dub is the current incarnation of Daniel Lanois’ super group with a rotating roster of rock/jazz/blues virtuosos. If you don’t know Lanois’ name, he has produced some of the biggest landmark rock albums such as U2’s The Unforgettable Fire, U2’s Achtung Baby, Peter Gabriel’s So, and Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind. He is also an absolutely brilliant musician.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Family, Friends, and Grand Hallway at the CMJ Music Marathon

NEW YORK, October 22 – Based on another recommendation, I went to check out the Seattle-based Grand Hallway at the CMJ Music Marathon. They’re a sizable band with quite a few players including violinists, woodwinds, piano, and others. Playing at the small Rockwood Music Hall, the band squeezed themselves into the corner stage.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paul Weller's Night in Harlem

Crowd waiting to enter the Apollo Theater.

NEW YORK, November 6 – As I rolled up from the A train onto the Harlem streets, I eagerly made my way down the block to the see the amazing Paul Weller at the Apollo Theater. There was no wind that night, but the air was a bit chilly. I pulled up the collar on my coat and soldiered on. The brisk November couldn’t deter me from this potentially awesome performance.

When I reached the legendary venue, I noticed a massive line of people. I quickly asked the last man in line about the crowd. He responded with a nod and assured me that this is the line to get into the theater. I was astonished at the large number of concert goers for Weller’s show. I took my place in the back of the line and waited in the cold with my fellow music enthusiasts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kaiju Heroes: Men in Rubber Suits

Haruo Nakajima taking a break between takes.

NEW YORK, November 9 – In Japanese kaiju (怪獣) films, the faces of the most memorable players are never seen on the silver screen. They are the kaiju actors who breathe life into fantastic monsters like Godzilla (ゴジラ) and Gamera (ガメラ). Suffering underneath thick layers of latex rubber, they lumbered around complex miniature cityscapes in order to create movie magic. They are literally where “the rubber meets the road.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jane Lui Double Taps New York

NEW YORK, October 22 – Based on a recommendation, I went to see Jane Lui’s performance at the Rockwood Music Hall. Lui, a recent internet phenom, has been known as one of the more notable independent musical acts in the San Francisco scene. Unlike past generations of musicians, her career was born out of the internet and takes full advantage of powerful marketing tools like youtube and social media networks. Through a spirited digital DIY campaign, she has carefully garnered a pretty loyal following making her internet famous.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shonen Knife at Asia Society

Emi Morimoto standing on her drums and Ritsuko Taneda rocking out.

New York, September 25 – As a part of their extravagant Yoshitomo Nara (奈良 美智) exhibition, Asia Society hosted a concert by Shonen Knife (少年ナイフ). Nara is a big fan of the band and designed some of their album covers including Happy Hour. In a larger sense, he has also credited punk music as being a major influence in his artwork.

In addition to the art exhibit, the performance was part of a new American tour that served as a coming out party for Shonen Knife's new drummer Emi Morimoto. She seemed to fit the band extremely well. Her drumming was exciting and filled with gusto.

Monday, October 25, 2010

AWA 2010: Shinji Aramaki and Friends

Con Attendees

Atlanta, September 18 – Being sandwiched between the summer anime convention season and New York Comic Con, I was initially hesitant about attending Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010. The two big draws for me were hanging out with some friends and meeting anime director Shinji Aramaki (荒牧 伸志).

Everyone is a Critic Panel (Left to Right): Paul Chapman (The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast), Gerald Rathkolb (AWO), and Daryl Surat (AWO)

The great majority of the convention was spent hang out with friends. Since AWA is more low key than other larger conventions, I actually got the chance to talk to people. I also had the opportunity to attend some interesting panels like Everyone is a Critic and the Podcaster's Roundtable.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NYCC 2010: Everyday is Like GR Sunday

Giant Robot Invades

New York, October 10 – The last day at New York Comic Con was much calmer, and I saw more children in the crowd. My game plan for most of the day was booth duty. I spent most of the day answering questions and promoting Giant Robot Magazine.

Sho'nuff visits the Giant Robot Booth

The booth had many different visitors. Most of the visitors to our booth were young artists looking to get involved with Giant Robot. I had long running conversations about Superflat, street graffiti, and the current art scene. I even ran into a few David Choe fans. They were hoping that Dave was going to be at the booth. Unfortunately I had to give them the bad news. On the other hand, younger booth visitors were looking for recommendation about everything. I was dispensing recommendations for anime, manga, Asian cinema, J-rock, and other related topics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NYCC 2010: Saturday Funnies

Ultraman (ウルトラマン) Cosplayer

New York, October 9 – Saturday is probably the busiest day during the New York Comic Con. I arrived early for many of the interesting panels including the Spotlight on Harper Collins, Digital Comics & Distribution, and Sushi Typhoon.

Vampires, Witches, and Zombies. Oh my...

Spotlight on Harper Collins. Seated (Left to Right): Erika Tsang (editor), Margaret Ronald (author), Jeaniene Frost (author), and Pamela Palmer (author).

I popped into this panel to check out the announcements and support my cousin Erika Tsang. She is an Executive Editor at Avon Romance. The panel announced several supernatural romance fiction titles such as Majorie Liu's In the Dark of Dreams, Jeaniene Frost's Side of the Grave, and Kerrelyn Sparks' Vampire Mine. Despite the romance nature of the imprint, the line was filled with sexy vampires, powerful witches, and zombies invasions. The trend in romance fiction is leaning towards the supernatural with the popularity of book series like The Twilight Saga and The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NYCC 2010: Digital Revolution Will Not Be Televised... It Will Be Loaded into Your iPad

Digital Comics & Distribution. Seated (Left to Right): Ira Rubenstein (Marvel), David Steinberger (Comixology), Jim Lee (DC), and Micah Baldwin (

New York, October 9 – Lately much of the news from many comic book publishers are focused on their huge push into digital distribution. Due to the portability and high resolution of print, the publishing industry enjoyed a brief respite from the onslaught of digitization and piracy of their media. However, the proliferation of piracy on file sharing torrent networks and dropping revenues from unit sales have forced publishers to adopt a more aggressive approach towards digital distribution.

The panel included: Ira Rubenstein (Marvel's), David Steinberger (comiXology), Jim Lee (DC Comics), and Micah Baldwin (

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NYCC 2010: The Brave and The Geeky

Cosplaying Couple posing as Superman and Wonder Woman.

New York, October 8 – Due to a late night pre-con party, I arrived to the New York Comic Con 2010 late on the Friday afternoon. There weren't too many interesting panels except the Aniplex one. I had a difficult time finding the press office to pick-up my badge, and the volunteers at registration had no clue. I wandered a bit and eventually got my badge. I headed over to the Aniplex panel.

Aniplex of America

Aniplex PR team. Hiroe Tsukamoto (right).

As I was waiting for the panel to begin, Anime News Network (ANN) Editor Chris Macdonald sat right in front of me. I've run into him at other conventions over the summer. I greeted him, and we were trading war stories about this year's anime con season.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Best American Comics 2010 Book Launch with Neil Gaiman, Bryan Lee O'Malley and Gabrielle Bell

Left to Right: Neil Gaiman, Bryan Lee O'Malley and Gabrielle Bell.

New York, October 7 – Barnes and Noble Union Square hosted a book launching event for the Best American Comics 2010. The new anthology is a collection of the year’s best comics from professional, indie, graphic novel, and the web. The event was cleverly scheduled to coincide with the start of the New York Comic Con and tapped into the comic geek audience. The large event space was packed with fans.

The panelists for the event included: Jessica Abel (editor), Matt Madden (editor), Neil Gaiman (guest editor), Gabrielle Bell (contributor), and Bryan Lee O'Malley (contributor).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accidently on 34th Street

New York, October 2 – It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the television weather forecast promised an idyllic day. I couldn’t waste it, so I head over to Bryant Park to do some manga shopping at the local Japanese bookstores.

As I walk up to Herald Square, I was overwhelmed by a sea of Koreans with flags and Hanbok dresses. I found myself in the middle of Korean American Association of Greater New York’s (KAAGNY) autumn parade. I totally forgot about this parade, but it was a pleasant surprise. This kind of thing that only happens in New York City. The rich multi-ethnic culture and the pedestrian nature of the city leads to some amazing experiences.

Click on the image for higher resolution.

Since it was the 30th anniversary, the parade seemed exceptionally grand with huge floats and tons of spectators. It stretched from Harold Square (Koreatown) to Bryant Park.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Can Have Your Moon Cake and Eat It Too

New York, September 22 – The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) (a.k.a. Moon Festival or Lantern Festival) is one of the most widely celebrated holidays across Asia. It marks the end of summer and honors the immortal moon goddess named Chang'e (嫦娥). The day is usually celebrated with building paper lanterns and eating moon cake. I didn't build too many lanterns as a child, but I did partake in the consumption of some cake. It's perhaps the only time I actually eat the sweet pastry.

While shopping in Chinatown, I couldn't find our traditional brand of moon cake in any of the stores or bakeries. So, I tried a new brand of moon cake imported from Hong Kong. The packaging was very beautiful. Each cake was individually packaged in a small painted tin box within a case. The bottom of the case was lined with a golden silky cloth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Farewell to Giant Robot New York with Goh Nakamura

Right to Left: Goh Nakamura and Gary Wang

New York, September 12 – Devoted Giant Robot fans braved the harsh rain to attend a farewell event at the Giant Robot New York store. The store is scheduled to close on September 23. The farewell event began with a signing by David Choe and ended with a set by Goh Nakamura.

I rushed over to the East Village to attend the double headliner event. The delayed subway trains and the heavy rain slowed my progress. So, I arrived pretty late. I walked into the small store front and encountered Goh’s acoustic guitar. Neither Dave nor Goh were present. I overheard people saying that they went to some barbecue joint down the block. I probably just missed them and decided to hang out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Otakon 2010: 5 Pounds Per Second

Press Conference with the creative team behind Welcome to the Space Show. (Right to Left) Masashi Ishihama, Koji Masunari, and Tomonori Ochikoshi

Baltimore, August 1 – The centerpiece for Otakon 2010 was the US premiere of Welcome to the Space Show (宇宙ショーへようこそ). It was an original animated feature film by A-1 Pictures Inc. I attended the movie screening with a bunch of friends including bloggers, podcasters, and press. I will probably write a full review of the movie for the next issue of Giant Robot Magazine.

At the screening, I sat a couple of seat away from Gerald Rathkolb (Anime World Order). He had recently purchased five pounds of fudge. I was befuddled by his culinary decision. I don't know what possesses a man to buy so much fudge. Was he trying break some competitive eating record? He repeatedly insisted that he got a great deal.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Otakon 2010: Completing the Trifecta

Baltimore, August 1 – This summer I went for the trifecta. After attending both the New York Asian Film Festival and the San Diego Comic-con, I crisscrossed the country again to attend Otakon 2010. I must admit I was a little burned out by the continuous travel and media circus. I was content on letting the event just happen and following the crowd like a lemming.

The Barcode Lines

The Line for the AMV Contest.

Speaking of lemmings, the early registration line situation was strange. The convention began using a barcode system in order to streamline the registration process. The con organizers started with two seperate line: one for barcode registration and one for non-barcode registration.

Friday, September 3, 2010

You Can’t Stop the Paperdoll

Right to Left: Steve Paelet, Chip Thomas, and Teresa Lee Chaisiri

New York, July 17 – After recently winning the Grand Prize at Kollaboration New York, the Paperdoll band played at the Crash Mansion.

According to their website, the band was planning an extensive tour of Shanghai (which has just concluded). They were scheduled to play one last performance before going to China. I heard about it at the very last minute and hastily rushed over to the venue. I wanted to see them before they embark on their overseas journey.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meeks! Meiko at the Living Room

New York, August 29 – On a steamy warm summer night, Meiko took the stage at the Living Room. The Los Angeles based indie rockstar was a rare sight in the Big Apple, but she managed to pack the audience with fans.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar, she entertained the New York crowd with a combination of melodic songs and funny side stories. Between each song, Meiko would talk to the audience and sometimes carry on fully conversations. Filled with sass, she entertained the crowd with personal stories about love, her music career, and money. Meiko spoke as much as she sang. It kind of reminded me of the VH1 Storytellers show.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stealing Glimpses of Nara

The Rule: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Nara.

New York, August 25 – Yoshitomo Nara (奈良 美智) held a five day open studio for the reconstruction of his large-scale installation Home. It was a jointly sponsored event by the Park Avenue Armory and the Asia Society Museum. The reconstruction site was located at the Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory.

The armory was being heavily renovated, and the guests had to have to follow strict rules. The first requirement was a dress code. Everyone had to wear closed toe shoes and sleeved shirts. The construction site also issued hard hats to guests, and they had to be worn. This is clearly a safety guideline. The second rule was no photography. No photography?

Guests with Hard Hats.

When I saw the “no photography” sign at the entrance of the drill hall, I asked one of the staffers about it. He said, “There is no photography inside.” For the sake of clarification, I also asked about the photography policy in the outer foyer area near the front door. He replied that, “It’s okay out here.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Satoshi Kon: The Dreamer


New York, August 24 – On August 24, 2010, Japanese Animation Director Satoshi Kon (今 敏) died of pancreatic cancer in Tokyo.

At the age of 46, Kon left behind an amazing body of work including five feature length films and a thirteen episode animated television series. His innovative storytelling and imaginative animation is unparalleled in complexity and creativity.

As evident in his films, Kon’s imagination and creativity operated on a completely different level from other contemporary animation directors. He constantly blurred the lines between memory, dreams, and reality. In his award winning Millennium Actress (千年女優), the narrative interweaves the colorful flashback segments with the movie’s seemingly mundane plot. The result is a multilayered film seamlessly transitioning back-and-forth between memory and the present reality.

Millennium Actress

Most anime fans of my generation were first introduced to Satoshi Kon through the home video release of Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー). The animated feature was about the deceptively innocuous topic of Japanese pop idols that evolved into a serious examination of identity. The film was an innovative work that really opened people’s eyes to the unlimited storytelling potential of 2D animation.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Healthy Food & Green Festival: Japanese Street Fair

New York, August 22 – The JapanTown festival organized a street fair to celebrate Japanese cuisine and the culinary arts. This late summer fair was named the Healthy Food & Green Festival, and it was located on Madison Avenue (between 43rd Street and 45th Street). I don’t know about the healthy and green elements of the street food, but there was a lot grilled red meat and seafood.

It’s technically a Japanese matsuri, so there are fun games for kids. But, we’re here for the street food. Lining the streets of Madison Avenue, there were at least twenty blazing grills and several steaming hot plates.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Alfa Garcia Experience

(Right to Left) Jon McElroy, Zach Jones, and Alfa

New York, August 18 – I’ve seen Alfa Garcia perform at several venues in New York City, and they were all solo efforts. However, her performance at the Living Room included a three piece band. Band? This was an interesting turn of events. I’ve never heard the entire band perform live before tonight.

What’s the name of the band? The name on the venue’s bill was “Alfa Garcia”. So, is the band named “Alfa Garcia” too? “The Alfa Garcia Band” sounds too plain. I was just brainstorming names for her band, and I came up with a few suggestions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NYAFF 2010: Photographic Evidence

New York, July 8 – During the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), I took hundreds digital photographs and several digital videos. I promised the Subway Cinema guys to post them, but my life got really busy. The images just sat on my hard drive for nearly a month until I could find the time to sort them. I compiled best ones for this photo essay post.

Except for the photographs attached to other blog posts, these are some of my favorite photos from NYAFF 2010: [Click Through Image for Higher Resolution]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tze Chun's Children of Invention DVD Release Party

New York, August 14 – Giant Robot New York held a DVD release party for Tze Chun’s Children of Invention. It attracted a decent crowd of indie film fans and New Yorkers.

The film is his first major full length feature garnering 17 film festival awards and an official selection for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of a single mother who is drawn into a Ponzi scheme. She is arrested, and her two young children are left to survive on the streets alone.

Regarding his future projects, Chun is set to direct a segment of the film adaptation of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God.

Tze Chun talking about James Jean's prints. Cindy Cheung, lower left.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SDCC 2010: Last Minute Heroics

Pink Hello Kitty Assault Rifle with folding Stock

San Diego, July 25 – After four days of convention madness, the weariness began to show on the faces of the exhibitors and guests. I could see it in their eyes. They had the thousand yard stare. We braced ourselves for the final day of total geekery. Some poor souls had to buy overpriced coffee from the Starbucks stand. Others just toughed it out without caffeine. Go forth, brave soldiers of love.

Comics and Piracy Panel

Right to Left: Jake T. Forbes, Deb Aoki, and David Steinberger

The Digital Piracy Panel was one of the few panels that I actually attended. They covered most of the major arguments concerning comic books and intellectual property rights. The discussion was very timely due to the recent anti-piracy efforts of many American manga publishers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SDCC 2010: Con Survival, Pop Candy Party, and Boris

San Diego, July 24 – I always assumed that con survival guides were weak veiled attempts at comedy. Come on… Do you really need someone to remind you of basic human functions like hygiene, hydration, and eating? It’s basic common sense. Even mindless Sims sprites know when to use the bathroom.

Then, the unthinkable happened. There was geek-on-geek violence in Hall H of the San Diego Comic-con. Stationed at the plushy table of the Giant Robot booth, I watched two squads of local police quickly marching across the convention center.

I’ve read quite a few con survival how to’s, and I don’t recall any lessons on self-defense (the zombie apocalypse ones don’t count). I guess it’s time to add some basic self-defense tips to those guides.

There were many rumors circulating in the exhibitor’s hall. The initial story described a confrontation ending in an attendee stabbing another one with a replica light saber (the geek’s weapon of choice). It’s perhaps the geekiest personal assault in history. When I read the actual news coverage, the victim was stabbed by a pen near his eye. He went to the hospital with minor cuts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SDCC 2010: Friday Comes In Like a Lion and Goes Out Like a Munko

Bill Poon

San Diego, July 23 – The morning started with a surprise visit from Bill Poon who is the All-Star slugger from the Giant Robot softball team. He briefly chatted with Eric Nakamura (Publisher, Giant Robot) and others.

Second David Choe Signing

Dave Choe

Just before noon, fans of David Choe began forming a line around the booth. Choe, a Los Angeles pop artist, arrived to sign merchandise including his new art book and Munko vinyl figures. His devoted fans were pretty excited to meeting him. One of them even showed me her Munko tattoo on her wrist. It was pretty awesome.