Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paper Airplane Record?

A young fellow I know a little named Stephen Kreiger held the world record for the longest paper airplane throw since 2003.  His record was 207 feet, 4 inches.  But his record was recently broken.  Or was it? 

A generic picture of a paper airplane 

The new record was set by John Collins at 226 feet and 10 inches.  But he didn’t throw it himself.  He brought in a former UC Berkeley quarterback to throw.  It was this former quarterback who actually broke the record. 

Traditionally, this has been an individual sport, with the person designing the paper airplane also throwing it.  Stephen backs this view, along with many others.  But different voices say allowing a ringer to throw will include geniuses in design who have wimpy arms. 

I like the traditional view.  Certainly, by allowing quarterbacks in to muscle the paper airplanes will result in longer distances, but that’s only if distance is what matters, instead of seeing who is best at a traditional sport.  I suppose in the future, an engineer can design it, an origami expert can fold it, a coach can position it in the quarterback’s hand correctly, and then the QB can let fly. 

Or, Guinness World Records can have two categories:  One for individual paper airplane throwing, the other for a team sport.  This would be kind of like how the Oscars have one award for best original screenplay, and one for a screenplay based on an already-written work.  Any comments?  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wild Wild Will Smith

This is great.  Less than a week after my blog entry that mentions Musetta Vander, an African-American actress who had a minor role in the movie The Wild Wild West, Will Smith, the star of the movie, gets in a slapping incident.  He slapped a reporter who tried to kiss him. 

He wanted to publicize his latest Men in Black movie, but it’s like he wanted to publicize my blog.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Beginnings

RoseCity Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Simply post the first sentence from your current read on your blog, then link back to hers. 

“I slapped the head of my giant panda alarm clock, sending a metal spike into its adorable panda skull.” 

This is how Dana Fredsti starts her first main chapter of Plague Town.  I don’t normally read zombie novels, but this one looked like it had snappy dialog and funny pop culture references. 

I referred to the main chapter, because there are framing chapters in italics that have non-funny zombie attacks.  And as usual with suburban fantasy, I skipped a couple of sensuous scenes.  But Plague Town is a fresh take on the zombie scene.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Racial Identity in Your Writing

Is it a good idea to describe someone who looks like me as “Asian-American” in your novels?  The usual answer is yes, and anyone who uses the term “Oriental” is ignorant.  But let’s consider: 

When I was in one of those politically correct workshops that employees are forced to attend about diversity (which is just a way an employer has of checking off a box about sensitivity, so if any employee makes a bigoted statement, they’ve covered themselves), one black woman laughed at the term “colored person.”  She said, “When I hear the term ‘colored,’ I feel like asking ‘What color’?  I’m not a ‘colored person.’  I am a ‘person of color.’” 

I felt like asking, “What color?”  But I didn’t want to get in trouble. 

You might tell from that comment that this particular workshop was several years ago.  Those color terms didn’t last long.  The main terms for black people within recent memory have been “Negroe,” “black,” and “African-American.” 

Before we go on, here’s a picture of my favorite African-American actress: 

Charlize Theron
photo by John Harrison

For my review of her movie Young Adult, click here

Here’s my second favorite African-American actress: 
Musetta Vander 
photo by MadMarlin

She’s had guest roles in Star Trek and Xena, but I liked her small role in the movie version of The Wild Wild West

And here’s my favorite African-American news anchor: 

(Sorry, no non-copyright pictures, so click on the link for Google's pictures)

She’s recently written a book about heart disease for spouses, after her husband had quadruple bypass surgery. 

What’s my game here?  Well, Charlize Theron and Musetta Vander are both from South Africa.  Jamie Colby has South African ancestry.  They are all African-Americans. 

It’s a long story, but some intellectuals and civil rights leaders decided that young black people didn’t feel any significant ties to Africa, so they came up with the term “African-American.”  To follow suit, almost all minorities were given some hyphenated –American name to match.  So people who look like me are currently called “Asian-American.” 

I hate this term.  Who else are “Asian-Americans”?  People from the Indian subcontinent, for one.  The people I’ve known with Indian ancestry do not resemble me racially; they are actually more closely related to Europeans, but with different skin tones.  That area is sometimes called South Asia now.  Also, a lot of Arab people could be called the same.  They are said to be from Southwest Asia. 

(The exceptions were Hispanics.  The term Latin-American was already in use, and it meant someone living outside the U.S.A.  The old term was Chicano, and it was going to be brought back.  But then Sotomayor became a Supreme Court justice, and the terms Latino and Latina have been making a comeback, but the terminology for that ethnic group is in a state of flux.) 

So, what is my point?  Just as a novel that uses terms like Negro, colored person, and person of color for a black person looks dated today, so will all those hyphenated –American terms look silly about ten years from now.  Many people today (like me) already think they’re silly, and poke holes in those terms.  There’s nothing wrong with describing what a person looks like, or what the person’s exact ancestry is. 

I don’t mind it if a person who looks like me is described as having almond-shaped eyes.  Be creative.  You might even write, “He preferred being called Oriental, because he disliked the term Asian, since that includes a number of races.”  Is there a possibility that someone with a screw too tight will get offended by one of your descriptions?  Yes.  But that will happen no matter what.  Go for an innocent description of the person’s appearance or specific ancestry.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brent Spiner regarding Spot

Brent Spiner, who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was not impressed by the cat who played Spot.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Entry for Haiku Contest

A local bookstore is running a haiku contest.  Here is my entry: 

*     *    *

Fairy wings tremble

Concerto in D Minor

My palm holds my date

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