Saturday School Podcast

By Saturday School from the Potluck Podcast Collective

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: TV & Film

Open in iTunes

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 17
Reviews: 0


Wake up! Saturday School is a podcast where Brian Hu (@husbrian) and Ada Tseng (@adatseng) teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. New episodes released Saturdays at 8am, when all your friends are still in bed watching cartoons. It'll be a blast from the past, as they dig up some of their favorite works they've come across covering Asian American arts & entertainment over the years -- and discover other gems for the first time. Saturday School is a proud founding member of Potluck, a collective of podcasts featuring unique stories and voices from the Asian American community. Sign up for our newsletter below for lecture notes!

Episode Date
Season 6, Ep. 7: Batang West Side
On this week's Saturday School, we continue to explore Asian films about Asian America, diving head first into the international film festival/art film world with the 5 hour 15 minute Lav Diaz film "Batang West Side" from 2001. It's a film that takes place in the snowy New Jersey winter. A Filipino American cop Juan (Jose Torre) is investigating the murder of a Filipino American teenager Hanzel, and through the course of the 5 hours, we get to know Hanzel's family members, friends, and girlfriend. We also get flashbacks of Hanzel, as well as glimpses of Juan's life in the U.S., isolated from his family back in the Philippines. Lav Diaz has become revered, especially in the last several years, for his marathon-length, deliberately paced art films that have gone up to 11 hours. Batang West Side, while not one of his more accessible films, is interesting because it marked a turning point for Diaz's filmmaking. It's almost like his time living in the States that inspired Batang West Side gave him the artistic freedom to forgo the commercial Filipino film market and really create his own unique style that he'd still be known for decades later.
Aug 05, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 6: Gen X Cops and Gen Y Cops
In this week’s Saturday School, we break our sixth season streak of epic, emotional and honorable love stories, and as we hit the turn of the century, we look at “Asian films about Asian Americans” from an entirely different, warped mirror. We’re talking about 1999’s “Gen X Cops” and 2000’s “Gen Y Cops,” which is like a who’s who of Asian American/Canadian/Australian actors who briefly ruled the Hong Kong film industry, when the powers-that-be there were thirsting for new talent and caught some ABC fever. You got Daniel Wu, Maggie Q, Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Edison Chen, Jaymee Ong, Terrence Yin -- and post-“Clueless,” pre-“Anchorman” Paul Rudd (“the dark days of Paul Rudd”) with bleached blond hair playing an FBI agent that says things like “You're the one going to the bamboo Alcatraz!” But back to the ABCs: Their Cantonese isn’t great. Their English-language acting is only debatably better. But they’re hot, they don’t give a fuck, and that’s kind of exactly what Hong Kong needed for this new type of hero leading high-octane action flicks with explosions, evil foreign adversaries (like Paul Rudd), nonsensical plot twists AND ROBOTS. History showed that this archetype of an Asian American too-cool-for-school sexually-liberated renegade, a la Edison Chen, wasn’t going to represent the future of the Hong Kong film industry. And probably for good reason, because Asian Americans from the other side of the ocean might have found it all a little bit embarrassing. But looking back, for a brief moment, Asian Americans were ruling the box office in Hong Kong. How did they pull it off? Did they totally improvise their own English lines because nobody behind the camera could tell them otherwise? Probably. And it was kind of glorious.
Jul 22, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 5: Sana Maulit Muli
This week's episode of Saturday School continues our semester of tear-jerking romances... just kidding, our semester on Asian films about Asian Americans, and we've progressed semi-chronologically to the 1990s in the Philippines with Lea Salonga. 1995's "Sana Maulit Muli" stars Lea Salonga and Aga Muhlach as a young couple who hope to start the next stage of their lives in America in pursuit of a better economic future. But she gets a visa first and is tearfully convinced by her boyfriend to go without him. He'll join her soon, he promises. And never forget how much he loves her, he says. Does she forget? Or is it that even if she's certain of his love, love is not enough if they're stuck on separate continents, pre-Skype? And when the complications of immigration causes a relationship to reach its breaking point, can they ever go back to the way it used to be? In some ways, it's a universal tale about a long distance relationship and what happens when power dynamics in a relationship shift. But this is also a very specific story about Overseas Filipino Workers, the pressures to succeed in America to provide for your family, the struggles to get and retain a visa, and what happens when sacrifices you make for your partner become too soul-crushing, but "yesterday, tomorrow and today, you'll be the only one I love." This 90s classic was digitally restored and re-mastered in 2015 for its 20th anniversary, so it looks beautiful and, unlike some of the more obscure films we talk about, this one is easily accessible on iTunes or Amazon Prime. So take advantage!
Jun 22, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 4: An Autumn's Tale
This week's Saturday School is about the 1987 Mabel Cheung-directed film "An Autumn's Tale," starring Chow Yun-fat and Cherie Chung. We revisit a period in the '80s after the British have made a deal to hand over Hong Kong to China in 1997, there is a fear of of losing freedoms, a wave of emigration and a curiosity about what it'd be like to be an overseas Chinese. "An Autumn's Tale" is about Hong Kong woman named Jennifer who follows her boyfriend to New York to study, only to learn that he's found a more "liberal minded" Chinese American woman and thinks she should broaden her horizons. Her family has arranged for her to stay with someone who's a rumored to be a stand-up guy, the leader of the community, and it turns out it's Chow Yun-fat, a rambuctious working-class drinker and gambler with a soft side. Many Hong Kong films set in America at this time are martial arts action movies depicting it as the wild, wild West. "An Autumn's Tale" also shows New York's Chinatown as a grimy, slightly dangerous place, but one with the possibility of romance, especially if there's a handy fellow immigrant around to help you navigate it.
Jun 11, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 3: Take Me Away!
This week's episode of Saturday School continues our Season 6 theme if exploring Asian films about Asian America, and we're looking at the 1978 Japanese film Take Me Away! (Furimukeba Ai), directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and starring both on-screen and off-screen couple Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura. It's a love story so sweeping that they are taken away to San Francisco, a city of love and escapism that rivals Paris in the 1970s Japanese cinematic world. We see a distinct difference between this hopelessly romantic melodrama from Asia versus Asian American films being made during this time. (Curtis Choy's 1976 "Dupont Guy," which we covered a couple seasons ago, comes to mind as a film around the same time, set in the exact same place.) Whereas films by Asian Americans during the 70s are inherently tied up with a frustration with oppression, difficulties of assimilation and a fight for civil liberties, "Take Me Away!" is more about Japanese global cosmopolitianism, and these characters, while they have heart-wrenching secrets, are cool, comfortable and breeze through the world like only extremely good looking people can. America is a place where they can find true freedom, true love and their true selves. To Asian Americans with any sense of history, this definitely feels like ridiculous fantasy, but looking at it years later, it's a fun alternate reality to imagine. You get the 1970s Japanese American immigrant bad boy, who's ruling the disco clubs, and basically worth overriding any sort of practical decision-making pertaining to love because I mean, this guy... THIS GUY can sing and play the guitar. To quote Brian Hu, he might be trouble if you're thinking about the rules of what makes a better partner, but shirtlessly he's the better choice.
Jun 02, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 2: Home Sweet Home
We recorded the latest episode of Saturday School a while ago, but fitting that we’re posting it when I’m actually in Taiwan! This season, we’re exploring Asian films about Asian America, and this week, we’re looking at the 1970 Taiwanese film "Home Sweet Home," which gives a glimpse into why Taiwanese people of a certain generation would have wanted to come to America (masters and doctorate degrees) and their decisions to stay in America vs. come back to Taiwan. Even though neither of us were around in 1970s Taiwan, luckily this topic is something Brian has been researching for a decade. This film is mentioned in his new book, “Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” as are statistics like: In 1965, only 5% of Taiwanese people going abroad were coming back, so “Home Sweet Home” was part of a Taiwanese government propaganda push to convince its people that if they went abroad, they needed to return to help build the nation. By 1975, 25% were coming back. We take the listener through a lot of the film in this episode, because it’s hard to find in the US. It's amusing to us to see the characters talking about “a Western scent” some of these Taiwanese Americans exude. It's also funny that part of being Westernized involves becoming more sexually liberated/impure – a stereotype that we still see 50 years later in this year’s Netflix series "A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities." And we bring it all back to Ang Lee, because that’s what all Taiwanese Americans are required to do when discussing Taiwanese Americanness.
May 25, 2019
Season 6, Ep. 1: Kal Ho Naa Ho
Season 6 of Saturday School (where we explore Asian films about Asian America) kicks off with us inviting one of our favorite people to talk about one of our favorite actors. Journalist Angilee Shah thought we were joking when we asked her to join us to discuss the 2003 film "Kal Ho Naa Ho," because 15 years of friendship hasn't taught her that we don't joke around about these things. "Kal Ho Naa Ho" is about an Indian American family in Jackson Heights, New York who are struggling, a family friend who arrives from India on a mission to help them get their lives back on track, and a love that lasts multiple lifetimes. We talk about Angilee's complicated relationship with Bollywood, its history of storylines about NRI characters whose lives are made better by rediscovering India and female characters whose lives are made better by falling in love with Shah Rukh Khan. We also dissect the America-flag-filled dance number "Pretty Woman," a remix of the Roy Orbinson song, to understand the stereotypically multicultural way Indians may have viewed America in the mid-2000s.
May 11, 2019
Season 5, Ep. 10: The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon
It's our Season 5 finale of Saturday School, and in some ways, it's all been leading to the most famous Asian American of all time: Bruce Lee. In this episode, we discuss his films "The Big Boss" from 1971 and "Way of the Dragon" from 1972, as a way of highlighting the movies he made in Hong Kong that are specifically about the diaspora experience. "The Big Boss" takes place in Thailand, and "Way of the Dragon" takes place in Rome, Italy. We talk about Bruce Lee's legendary backstory - born in the US, raised in Hong Kong before moving back to the US, and how it wasn't until he went back to Hong Kong that he became a big star internationally (and Hollywood REALLY came a-knocking). We try to examine which parts of these films we can claim as "Asian American," knowing that everyone tries to claim Bruce Lee and that most scholarship about him has been about his Chinese-ness or global Hong Kong-ness. We also talk about Chuck Norris' chest hair. So much chest hair. And this leads us all to the grand master plan we had for our 2018-2019 "school year" all along, which is that this season, we're talking about Asian Americans in Asia, and next semester, we'll be flipping it. Asians on Asian America, with all the stereotypes, expectations and desires that audiences and filmmakers in Asia have of Asian Americans. Will be fun!
Dec 22, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 9: Shanghai Calling
This is the 9th (and 2nd to last) episode of our 5th season of Saturday School, and those who've been there with us from the beginning can probably tell that we start to get a little senioritis-y at this point in the semester. So in this episode, about Shanghai Calling by Daniel Hsia, we spend about 7 minutes delivering what we promise: a comparison to A Great Wall, as we look at 2 films about Chinese Americans going back to China - one from 1986, the other from 2012 - and talk about what this says about geopolitics during the different time periods. And then we spend like 17 minutes straight ranting about Daniel Henney (and his hotness) as a symbol of the evolving possibilities for Asian American actors in Hollywood. Shout-out to Haikus With Hotties.
Dec 03, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 8: The Rebel
Thanks to film programmer, producer, YOMYOMF writer Aimee Anderson for being our guest on this week's episode of Saturday School. This semester, we're exploring Asian Americans in Asia, and this week, we're talking about the 2007 film, "The Rebel," directed by Charlie Nguyen starring Johnny Nguyen and Veronica Ngo. Turns out it's much more than a fun martial arts action period film with beautiful people doing high-flying scissor kicks and acrobatic headlocks. Anderson tells us about how 10 years ago, a group of Vietnamese Americans from Orange County -- who cut their teeth in Little Saigon's Paris By Night scene -- went back to Vietnam, and, with the success of "The Rebel," transformed an entire film industry that had been primarily state-owned to becoming a booming privatized, commercial industry. Out of all the various Asian Americans from different countries who have gone back to Asia to work in entertainment, Vietnamese Americans have probably been the most successful. They've been able to consistently knock out mainstream box office hits for the local Vietnamese market. Basically, Brian and Ada always learn so much from talking to Anderson, and we're excited that this time, he let us record it so we could share it with you!
Nov 26, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 7: Journey From The Fall
For this week's episode of Saturday School, we're revisiting one of Asian America's rare historical epics: Ham Tran's Journey from the Fall fr om 2006. There's really no other film like it. It's the story that starts with the Fall of Saigon and traces a family's harrowing journey to Orange County. But unlike most classic Hollywood movies about the Vietnam War, which are usually told from the perspective of white male veterans and end when U.S. troops leave Vietnam, the Vietnamese American refugee struggle continues when they get to America. There's a scene in the film on the boat with when the mother is looking at her young son and wondering - Will our children miss our homeland like we do? Will they ever understand? And Journey From The Fall is kind of the complex answer to that. The Vietnamese American community rallied together not only to fund this movie but to share their oral histories to help Ham Tran make something that their children and grandchildren could see, experience, and hopefully understand. And it still resonates today.
Nov 17, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 6: Seoul Searching
In this week's Saturday School, we revisit the 2015 film Seoul Searching, which follows a group of teenagers sent by their parents to a government-sponsored summer camp in Korea for them to reconnect with their roots. However, according to the film's prologue, this real-life program in the 1980s (which director Benson Lee himself attended as a young man) was canceled after a few years cause the kids were too much to handle. Seoul Searching is a nod to John Hughes movies, with the Korean American characters all embodying a certain stereotype -- whether it's the punk-rock Sid Vicious wannabe, the Madonna vixen, the Korean Mexican lover, the uptight Korean German, the Korean American adoptee -- before the film really dives into deep-seeded cultural struggles that exist behind the teen angst. In that sense, the characters in Seoul Searching, including the authority figures, carry much more weight than is allowed in the world of a typical John Hughes movie (incidentally a fictional world where the only notable Asian American character is Long Duk Dong). So go back and watch it, cause it's on Netflix, and it's fun. 80s music. Soju. Fiery romances. Stud muffins. Teary-eyed reunions. Makes us Taiwanese Americans look forward to Valerie Soe's upcoming documentary on The Love Boat, the Taiwanese American equivalent of teenagers getting sent to the homeland for cultural learning with sometimes scandalous results.
Nov 04, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 5: Big In Bollywood
After a few weeks of exploring the grittier, more traumatic side of Asian Americans in Asia, this week's episode of Saturday School is a little more light-hearted and fun. We're revisiting the 2011 documentary "Big in Bollywood," which follows Omi Vaidya (at the time, your typical working but little-known LA actor) who lands the role of a lifetime. But it's not in Hollywood, it's in Bollywood, and he's the main antagonist in the new Aamir Khan film, 2009's "3 Idiots," which would end up breaking records as the highest grossing Indian film of its time. Because "Big in Bollywood" is made by Omi Vaidya's American friends who know very little about Indian cinema, it has an outsider perspective and therefore is a good intro to Bollywood. We see the moment Omi's life changes: when he arrives at the red carpet premiere, no one knows who he is, and shortly after, he's being mobbed by fans. It's interesting to think about how his big break requires him to play an American idiot; in fact the filmmakers partially cast him because they thought he spoke Hindi with a laughably bad American accent. But at the same time, it's hard not to be swept up in the underdog story and the whirlwind of Bollywood stardom -- and to imagine how meaningful it'd be to achieve success in your immigrant parents' home country and to be able to share that experience with them. Also, Ada can't help berating Brian when she realizes he hasn't seen "3 Idiots" yet, even though she gave him the blu-ray years ago as a gift. He's watched it since the recording of this episode, so the shaming was successful.
Oct 28, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 4: Cavite
On this week's episode of Saturday School, we're revisiting the 2005 thriller "Cavite" by Ian Gamazon and Neil dela Llana, which is a unique take on our exploration of Asian Americans in Asia. The film basically takes all the anxieties Asian Americans can feel when we go back to Asia -- the awkwardness of not speaking the language well, the feeling of being completely lost, the guilt over having turned into a foreigner in what's supposed to be our "homeland" -- and transports this all into a thriller scenario, having a fictional terrorist exploit all our main character's insecurities in a life-or-death hostage situation. Adam (played by Ian Gamazon), a night security guard in San Diego, is on his way to the Philippines for his father's funeral. But as soon as he gets to the airport, he hears something ringing in his bag, and finds someone has slipped him a cell phone. Turns out the man on the other end of the line has his mother and sister, and will kill them unless he does everything he says. The film is super low-budget guerrilla-style filmmaking. Most the film feels like a home video following Adam racing through the streets, alleyways, and busy marketplaces of the Philippines as this man is taunting him -- and it's an impressive feat they pulled off. It feels like a scary documentary. Also, this was post 9/11, so in some ways, it's reacting to Islamophobia through the lens of a non-practicing Muslim Filipino American man.
Oct 21, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 3: Refugee
This week's episode, as part of our season on Asian Americans in Asia, we revisit the 2003 documentary "Refugee," by Spencer Nakasako, which follows three Cambodian American young men as they go back to Cambodia for the first time to confront their family histories. Like most of Nakasako's films of the time, the documentary makes use of the subjects' personal video diaries and Nakasako empowers Mike Siv and his friends Paul Maes and David Mark to pick up the camera themselves and film their own stories. Mike Siv, who's 24 at the time, has been told his whole life that he and his mother escaped the Khmer Rouge when he was a little kid, leaving his father and brother behind. He only recently found out that his brother doesn't actually know his father, so his assumption that if he had stayed in Cambodia, that he'd have a father, is shattered. So we see what happens when see a Cambodian American, from the streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin, brings his very Americanized perspective of what a father should be -- what a son deserves to have from his father -- to war-torn Cambodia. And we see that this is just the beginning of a journey: 12 years later, Mike Siv would make his own feature length documentary, 2016's "Daze of Justice," where he follows a group of Cambodian American women back to Cambodia so they can testify at the Khmer Rouge trials.
Oct 13, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 2: First Person Plural
The second episode of Saturday School (Season 5) on Asian Americans in Asia is about the 2000 documentary "First Person Plural" by Deann Borshay Liem. It's a personal documentary about a Korean American adoptee who comes to realize she's not the person her American family thinks she is. And as she uncovers the mystery behind her identities, she brings her adoptive parents to Korea to meet her birth family for the first time. Deann Borshay Liem was adopted in 1966, so her story is a predecessor to some of the Korean American adoptee documentaries we've seen more recently from younger generations, including "AKA Dan" and "Twinsters." Also, 10 years after "First Person Plural," Deann Borshay Liem made a sequel 2010's "In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee," and now that it's 8 years after that, someone tell her we need a 2020 update to round out the trilogy!
Oct 07, 2018
Season 5, Ep. 1: A Great Wall
Saturday School - our podcast where we force your unwilling children to learn Asian American pop culture history - is back for Season 5, and this semester, we are exploring films that involve Asian Americans in Asia. We start with a 1957 episode of a TV documentary show called "Bold Journey," where the legendary Chinese American silent film star Anna May Wong shares footage she took when she visited China in the 1930s, and we talk about how Asian Americans are often called upon to explain Asia to American audiences - and sometimes we're excellent cultural translators, while other times, we're quite clueless ourselves. Then we revisit 1986's "A Great Wall," directed by Peter Wang. (Not to be confused with the 2016 Zhang Yimou monster film "The Great Wall," starring Matt Damon.) "A Great Wall" is reportedly the first American film shot in China, and it's about a middle-aged Chinese American man from San Francisco visiting Beijing for the first time since he left at age 10. There's both confusion and intrigue as his Chinese American family meets his older sister's Chinese family. Some see the overseas Chinese as a threat, while others see them as Western saviors, and it's all wrapped up in a warm-hearted cross-cultural comedy.
Sep 30, 2018
BONUS Episode: The Crazy Rich Asians 5-Timers Club
For all you overachievers out there, Saturday School hosted an AP Honors discussion group with 5 people who have seen Crazy Rich Asians in theaters 5 TIMES *OR MORE.* The #CRA5timersclub. Like the SNL 5-timers club, but more Asian. Spoilers galore. And full disclosure, Ada's only seen it 3 times, so she's both hosting and crashing the party. Brian has only seen it once, so he was not invited. If you're obsessed with the movie as much as Phil Yu, David Magdael, Cheryl K, Minji Chang and Marvin Yueh are, we'd recommend first listening to Crazy Rich Asians episodes of our fellow Potluck Podcast Collective podcasts: They Call Us Bruce, KollabCast, First of All. And then come to Saturday School if you want to talk about stuff like: why Curtis was flown to Singapore, was that Teresa Teng's "Tian Mi Mi" playing in the background, and did the addition of that one line de-creepify Peik Lin's brother just a little bit or was it always there? Hang on tight, the super crazies have got the mike.
Aug 25, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 10: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
It's the last episode of Saturday School Season 4, our exploration of Asian American troublemakers in film, and we don't want to say we saved the "best" for last, but we definitely saved the most badass for last. This week, we're talking about 1965's "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" by Russ Meyer, starring Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams. It's a cult hit among certain circles: admirers include John Waters, Quentin Tarantino, and the late Roger Ebert, as well as fans of burlesque. Stories from the late Tura Satana link her to Elvis Presley's dance moves and the creation of Charlie's Angels. But the film is not as often talked about in Asian American circles, even though both Tura and Haji are biracial Asian women. Tura, who was in the incarceration camps as a kid, has a mix of Japanese, Filipina, Native American and Scots-Irish blood. Haji is British and Filipina American. There's an upcoming documentary about Tura Satana (narrated by Margaret Cho, co-produced by YOMYOMF) that is in currently in post-production, and we can't wait to see it. In the meantime, here's a taste of Tura, as Varla, who Phil Chung called "The Most Kickass Asian American Woman to Ever Grace the Silver Screen." And as a wrap-up to this semester, we ponder other Asian American troublemakers that didn't quite fit into our 10-episode season -- the renegades we are eternally grateful for, and even the ones who spout messages we think are harmful to society -- understanding that to truly appreciate Asian America is to grapple with all of Asian America, troublemakers included.
Jun 16, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 9: Female Pervert
For Episode 9 of our season on Asian American Troublemakers, we revisit Jiyoung Lee's Female Pervert -- a film that we put at the top of our Asia Pacific Arts 2015 Best Asian American Films list, when 2015 was actually a really impressive year for Asian American film with lots of stellar movies that didn't, like, get one-star reviews calling it "more creepy than quirky" and a "ponderous laugh-free zone." To fully appreciate Jiyoung Lee, one must place her in the Atlanta independent filmmaking scene, be charmed by the music of Pleasant People, be properly confused by Moral Sleaze, not be above fart jokes, think it's funny someone would Kickstart a movie called Female Pervert for $6900, and generally enjoy following strange, awkward characters trying really hard to accomplish a goal while navigating a "normal" world that can be very strange and awkward. Jennifer Kim is Phoebe, an Asian lady who scares off all the nice eager hipster white boys she's dating by being a little too aggressive with her sexual desires. You feel somewhat bad for the boys, but her desires are more random than perverse, so mostly you want to say/sing: hey man.... you knew she was trouble when she walked in. Female Pervert is available to watch for free if you have Amazon Prime. 63 minutes of glorious weirdness.
Jun 09, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 8: Terminal USA
In this week's episode of Saturday School, we're going back to 1993 to revisit Jon Moritsugu's Terminal USA, his over-the-top, grotesque, drug-filled take on a Japanese American sitcom family. Moritsugu plays dual roles: twins Katsumi, a punk drug dealer, and Marvin, the repressed model minority. Their sister Holly is not as pure as the all-American cheerleader vibe she gives off, the father has some issues with murderous rage, and the mother makes a barter to have sex with the pizza boy, under the condition that he gives her extra cheese bread. Plus, they're waiting for grandpa, who is bed-ridden, to finally kick the bucket so they get a hefty pay-out. The hour-long film was commissioned by ITVS looking for unique stories about the American family. However, once it was finished, many PBS stations across the US refused to play it. Understandably! Though what's funnier to us, 25 years later, is that many PBS stations DID play it. Moritsugu often makes films that aren't about Asian Americans, so it's a delight to see what he accomplishes once he turned his focus on Asian American stereotypes and identity.
Jun 04, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 7: Strawberry Fields
Episode 7 of our season on Troublemakers, and we're looking at the 1997 Rea Tajiri film, Strawberry Fields, which was part of the Class of 1997 "Asian American New Wave," featuring debut works of directors like Justin Lin, Quentin Lee, Eric Nakamura, Michael Aki, Chris Chan Lee, and Rea (the only woman of the group). Strawberry Fields features a firecracker performance by a young Suzy Nakamura, who folks might recognize more recently for her role as Dr. Ken's wife on the ABC sitcom. She plays Irene, a pyromaniac teenager haunted by ghosts of the past. Because the film takes place in the '70s, Brian talks about how he loves how Strawberry Fields subverts the 1970s counterculture road trip movie, by reminding us that the open landscapes of America that were home to these Hollywood renegades were also home to Japanese internment camps and other haunted histories. And then because it was shot in the '90s, Ada tries to convince Brian of the similarities between the Strawberry Fields characters and the characters in My So-Called Life. Shout out to all the hard-core My So-Called Life fans that also keep up with important Asian American cinema.
May 27, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 6: Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe
Skipped school last week, but we're back - and this week's episode is about Harry Kim's 2008 documentary Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe. Artist David Choe is kind of the ultimate Asian American troublemaker in ways that are both empowering and problematic. He exists in the often breathtaking intersection of beauty, insanity, genius, violence, machismo, perseverance, addiction, vulgarity, turns to God that are quickly cast aside so he can indulge in his next whims, and general ridiculousness. The film covers seven years of his life in his 20s -- he's in his 40s now -- and as we watch a documentary that makes the audience feel like an accomplice, we marvel at the aspects we still deeply appreciate, while raising new concerns and questions we weren't thinking about while watching it 10 years ago.
May 19, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 5: Nguyen Tan Hoang short films
We probably had a little too much fun with our latest episode of Saturday School as we continue to explore Asian American "troublemakers" in film. We look back at professor/filmmaker Nguyen Tan Hoang's experimental videos from the '90s and early 2000s, where he "pirates" Hollywood film, Vietnamese karaoke videos, and gay pornography and then appropriates them into his personal anecdotes about being a Vietnamese immigrant in America. Whether he's sharing his refugee experience in "Pirated!" through sexual fantasies of virile German sailors saving him from Thai pirates, turning to Hong Kong and Taiwanese pop stars as gay icons in "Forever Jimmy," or challenging stigmas and assumptions about gay Asian men being bottoms in "Forever Bottom!" -- his works are always graphic, playful, and humorously unapologetic.
May 06, 2018
BONUS Episode: Minding The Gap(with Bing Liu and Diane Quon)
Bonus episode of Saturday School this week, as we speak with director Bing Liu and producer Diane Quon about their Sundance Award-winning documentary Minding the Gap. In the film, Bing Liu documents the stories of a couple of his skateboarding friends from Rockford, Illinois, and they bond over their volatile relationships with their fathers. We talk about Bing's route into filmmaking through his experimentation within the skateboarding video form, how he expands beyond it into traditional documentary, and how he worked with Steve James' Kartemquin Films to bring his story to life. It's playing this Saturday, May 5 at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival - and since they're on a nation-wide, world-wide festival run, it's very likely coming to a film festival near you.
May 01, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 4: Miss India America
For this week's episode of Saturday School, we're looking at Ravi Kapoor's 2015 film "Miss India America," a pageant comedy that we're arguing is the closest thing Asian America has to a heist film. But instead of stealing money, she's stealing the crown. We also wish there were more Asian American heist films, because Asian Americans are really good at cheating, whether it be in gambling (for example, the real life story of "21") or in any sort of cheating in high school scenario (aka "The Perfect Score"). Also, we just want Tiya Sircar to be the next Reese Witherspoon, because "Miss India America" is basically the Indian American "Election."
Apr 29, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 3: Bang Bang/Raskal Love
For Episode 3 of our season on troublemakers, we quickly review the history of Asian American male gangster films, before focusing on a pair of Byron Q-directed films that made us think of gangster films in a whole new way. Bang Bang is a coming-of-age film starring Thai Ngo and David Huynh that is unique because the cast is made up of a combination of actors and gangsters and it also addresses the class differences between teenagers that are drawn to gang life for different reasons. Raskal Love is a documentary that tells the story of Vanna Fut, one of the actors in Bang Bang who became a member of the Tiny Raskal Gang at a young age after his family came to Pomona, CA after escaping the Killing Fields. As we compare real-life Asian American gangster stories to silver screen ones, we rethink the idea of what a troublemaker is. Also, we realize that we were both in attendance for a climactic scene of Raskal Love and had no idea what we were witnessing at the time.
Apr 22, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 2: Dupont Guy: The Schiz of Grant Avenue
Part of the reason we thought it'd be fun to do Season 4 of Saturday School on Troublemakers was to highlight some of the bad girls/bad boys of Asian American film, but another reason was to remind ourselves that the Asian American movement itself was born out of a desire to create trouble. So for episode 2, we go back almost 40 years to Curtis Choy's 1976 film essay "Dupont Guy: The Schiz of Grant Avenue," which embodies this spirit -- spitting in the face of reporters, cops, the white gaze, Hollywood, Chinatown tourists, and the general establishment, even calling out fellow Asian Americans in the industry as sell-outs. We reflect on how the goals of Asian America have evolved over the years and jokingly lament that there aren't that many public Asian American "Frank Chin vs. Amy Tan, David Henry Hwang, and Maxine Hong Kingston" feuds anymore.
Apr 14, 2018
Season 4, Ep. 1: Yoko Ono & Patty Chang short films
We're back! Season 4 of Saturday School, we explore Troublemakers in Asian American Film History, inspired by film scholar's Eve Oishi's reference to "bad Asians," aka "badass Asians," in media. We're looking at a spectrum of "trouble," from renegade filmmakers that are combating the model minority myth to avante garde artists that are happily incompatible with anything considered mainstream. We begin with one of our community's OG troublemakers Yoko Ono and trace her influence to performance artists like Patty Chang. In other words, we talk about the high art of cutting someone's clothes off, butts, poop, taking a knife to your melons, eels in your shirt and making out with your parents. This is going to be a weird season.
Apr 07, 2018
BONUS Episode: Asian American Kids' Content (with Lee Ann Kim)
This episode, with special guest Lee Ann Kim, was recorded live at the 2017 San Diego Asian Film Festival. Coming off our season on Asian American Music Movies, we talk about animated musicals like Mulan, Moana, and Ni Hao Kai Lan, before moving into Asian American children's programming in general. Plus, a discussion about how we talk to our kids about what it is to be Asian American and how Asian American creatives should think more about creating meaningful content for young people.
Nov 19, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 10: A Song For Ourselves
Our last episode of our season about Asian American music movies brings us full circle - from episode 1's "Cruisin' J-Town," produced by Visual Communications, co-founded by Robert Nakamura, to this week's episode about the 2009 documentary "A Song For Ourselves," by Robert's son Tad Nakamura, about the political life and music of the late Chris Iijima. We reflect on how the Asian American movement has evolved in the last fifty years, and how our own individual lives evolve as we learn to balance politics with family and/or other priorities that begin to shift when we get older. But most importantly, Ada tries to make a "Tad Nakamura-thon" a thing.
Nov 12, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 9: I Was Born, But...
This week's episode is about Roddy Bogawa's autobiographical documentary "I Was Born, But..." which takes us on a journey from his childhood in Hawaii, to his involvement in the punk rock scene in the '70s, to his time as a filmmaker the early 2000s, when this was made. Unfortunately, the film is unavailable on DVD or streaming, so in our attempt to convey the spirit of his work to our listeners who may never be able to see it, we found ourselves doing what Roddy did in his film: reflecting on our own musical coming-of-ages and how we remember it.
Nov 05, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 8: Asian American Music Videos (Part 2)
What started off as us planning to rattle off our favorite music videos turned into an epic history of the Asian American music video form, with much-needed help from our Potluck Podcast braintrust. Impress your friends with your knowledge of Asian American music video, from pre- and early-YouTube to today, with these audio Cliff Notes. We break down the history, from the inspired to the embarrassing, from those videos we got through FTP servers to these modern YouTube videos that rival the production value of anything we saw on MTV's Total Request Live back in the day. And search YouTube for "Asian American Music Videos Saturday School" for our YouTube playlist of every music video we talk about in this episode!
Oct 28, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 8: Asian American Music Videos (Part 1)
We're doing something a little different for this week's episode: it'll be a two-part exploration of Asian American music videos. Next week, Brian and Ada will be picking a few of their favorite music videos to share with everyone -- so this week, we talk about what technically makes something an "Asian American music video." Asian American musicians? Asian American music video directors? Asian American actors on camera? And we ask YOU, the listener, to tell us what your favorite Asian American music videos are, so we can be extra prepared for next week's Part 2!
Oct 16, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 7: The Heavenly Kings
On this week's episode of Saturday School, we revisit the 2006 documentary The Heavenly Kings, by Daniel Wu, about the time the Into the Badlands star was in a Hong Kong boy band with his friends. Sort of. We might have a little too much fun with this episode.
Oct 07, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 6: Kumu Hina
On this week's episode of Saturday School, we talk about Kumu Hina, a 2014 documentary about Hina Wong-Kalu, a hula teacher at an elementary school in Hawaii that aims to preserve the indigenous culture to the younger generations. Kumu Hina, who identifies as a mahu, someone in the middle of male and female, has the opportunity to mentor six-grader Ho'Onani, who also considers herself to be in the "middle," and we watch Ho'Onani not only join the all-male hula class -- but lead her male classmates in their end-of-year performance. Some of these Asian American films we revisit are hard to find, but Kumu Hina is available to watch on Netflix. So no excuses -- check it out!
Oct 01, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 5: The Taqwacores
On this week's episode of Saturday School, we revisit the 2010 feature film The Taqwacores, which follows a group of characters living together in Buffalo, New York who are part of the Islamic punk scene. We laugh about how in Hollywood movies, the "outsider" character who introduces the audience to a fascinating minority subculture is usually a white guy, but in The Taqwacores, it's an innocent first-generation Pakistani engineering student. We compare a joke Dominic Rains' character makes about a jihad on his nuts, to Taz Ahmed's best-selling Muslim Valentine's Day card that says "I have a ji-hard-on for you." Brian ties the movie's white girl romance storyline to the recent conversation being had about the lack of South Asian female perspectives in current South Asian stories like The Big Sick, Master of None, Meet the Patels etc., but Ada kinda forgives The Taqwacores for being so "testosterone-y." Good times.
Sep 24, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 4: Forbidden City USA/Long Story Short
This week's episode looks at two documentaries about performers in the San Francisco Chinatown nightclub scene in the '30s and '40s: Arthur Dong's 1989 documentary "Forbidden City USA," about the nation’s premiere all-Chinese nightclub Forbidden City, and Christine Choy's "Long Story Short," the story of Larry and Trudy Leung (Jodi Long's parents). Ada and Brian think about how the stereotypes and pressures of Asian performers have changed (or not changed) in the last seven decades -- and they think about how they try to "flip the script" in their own lives.
Sep 17, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 3: Colma: The Musical (with Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza)
This episode is a straight-up lovefest, as Ada and Brian invite Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza to talk about their first film, 2006's Colma: The Musical. This is Ada's third time interviewing them about the same movie, yet she learns so many new things. Richard and H.P. talk West Side Story homages in Colma and try their best not to bash La La Land, but can't help themselves. H.P. talks about watching Flower Drum Song and seeing Asian Americans in a musical for the first time. And Brian says that there still has not been a better American film musical made since Colma came out over a decade ago, so it must be true, cause Brian is never dramatic about these things. Season 3 of Saturday School is about Asian American Music Movies.
Sep 09, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 2: Wave Twisters
We have a very unique musical for Episode 2 of our 3rd season about Asian American Music Movies. It's a 2001 turntablism musical, based on an album by legendary turntablist DJ QBert. Brian reminisces about growing up in the '90s in Cerritos, where there was a prominent Filipino American DJ scene, while Ada admits she was not cool enough to know anything about the Bay Area hip hop scene, despite growing up there. (She listened to a lot of Britney Spears in the '90s.) Brian compares Wave Twisters to English virtual hip hop group the Gorillaz, while Ada compares Wave Twisters to the Julie Andrews show Julie's Greenroom, with the Jim Henson puppets. Because obviously.
Sep 02, 2017
Season 3, Ep. 1: Cruisin' J - Town
We're back! Season 3 of Saturday School will be about Asian American music movies. There weren't enough Asian American musicals to make an entire season about "musicals," but expanding it to "music movies" allows us to include concert movies, films about musicians, and stories that include music in interesting ways. 10 episodes, every Saturday starting today. We bring you Episode 1, recorded from the floor of the UC Irvine library. Cruisin' J-Town is a 1975 documentary by Duane Kubo, one of the original founders of Visual Communications, the media arts organization that puts on the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. The film, produced by VC, follows the Japanese American fusion band Hiroshima (saxaphonist Dan Kuramoto, koto player June Okida Kuramoto, and percussionist Johnny Mori) as they reflect on how their music is influenced by their Asian American identity and the civil rights movement of the 1960's.
Aug 26, 2017
BONUS Episode: Flower Drum Song (with Oliver Wang)
This bonus episode of Saturday School -- recorded at the Potluck Podcast Collective Lounge at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival with special guest Oliver Wang -- is the equivalent of summer cram session: while class is usually a swift 10-min affair, this time around, you get a packed 40-min conversation that goes all the way from 1960 to today. We talk about the delight of seeing Asian American movie stars singing and dancing onscreen in a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, discuss the joys (and sorrows) of being Team Helen, and give a teaser of what we'll be exploring next season! Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Our first season was on Asian American comedy films. Our second season is about Asian Americans in love.
May 14, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 10: Limited Partnership
This is our last episode of the second season, and we're ending it with a real life epic romance, told in the 2014 documentary Limited Partnership. It's the story of a Filipino American named Richard Adams; an Australian without a green card named Tony Sullivan; and their four-decade-long fight to stay together in America, despite the US government not recognizing their legal 1975 marriage as a "bona fide marriage" that should give them the same rights as heterosexual couples. Earlier in the season, we talked about Kelly Loves Tony. We now try to convince you that the biopic you've all been waiting for is a yet-to-be-made Asian American feature film called Richard Loves Tony. Also, Ada diverts Brian away from a confusing use of the word "aroused" when he really means "awakened." So all the elements of a good Saturday School episode. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Our first season was on Asian American comedy films. Our second season is about Asian Americans in love.
Apr 15, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 9: The Wash
"Falling in love at 18 is magic. Falling in love at 65 is a miracle." This week, we're talking about 1988's The Wash, starring Mako, Nobu McCarthy and Sab Shimono. It's the most excited Brian and Ada have ever been about discovering one of the greatest Asian American romance films ever made, and they had to go to college library basements to find it. Mako and Nobu play a recently-separated married couple in their 60s. She still comes by to do his wash, yet he can't seem to figure out how to let her know she's appreciated. And while it's hard to let go of such a rich shared history -- they have been together since they were young people in the internment camps -- what red-blooded woman can resist Sab Shimono's character's mustache, fishing tutorials, and low-cholesterol waffles? Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Apr 09, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 8: Mississippi Masala
On this week's Saturday School, Brian admits that Mississippi Masala contains two types of storylines that he usually hates in Asian American film, but in this case, he's 100% on board. Related, Ada and Brian forget this is supposed to be an Asian American pop culture history podcast and probably spend too much time talking about Denzel Washington. So if listeners want to skip "class" this week and instead listen to the Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time podcast episode on Mississippi Masala, featuring Hari Kondabolu, we approve of your life choices. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Apr 02, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 7: The Dragon Painter
This week, we go way back in history, almost 100 years ago to 1919 and a silent film called The Dragon Painter, starring Sessue Hayakawa and his wife Tsuru Aoki. Hayakawa was a star rivaling Charlie Chaplin in the Silent Era, and after being tired of the villainous Japanese roles that were written for him in Hollywood, he created his own production company to make his own movies. The Dragon Painter was restored in 1988 and added to the National Film Registry in 2014. Ada and Brian talk about their quest to find an old school Asian American romance, which led them on a detour through an Anna May Wong and Philip Ahn crime film -- and how Sessue Hayakawa, the biggest Asian American star of all time, is kind of like Randall Park. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Mar 25, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 6: Living On Tokyo Time (with Goh Nakamura)
You may know Steven Okazaki as an Academy Award-winning documentarian who's made very serious films about Japanese atomic bomb survivors (White Light/Black Rain, The Mushroom Club) or the Japanese American internment camps during WWII (Unfinished Business, Days of Waiting). But in the late 1970s, he was also part of a San Francisco punk-rock music group called The Maids, and in 1987, he made a wacky romantic comedy called Living On Tokyo Time. It's about a Japanese woman who comes to America and wants to stay, so her friend introduces her to a Japanese American musician she can marry just so she can get a green card. Then they sort of start to like each other. Musician Goh Nakamura, our guest from last episode, is back to talk about how this is probably the first Asian American film he ever saw, and thanks to filmmaker David Chien for lending Brian and Ada the VHS, because it's not available to watch in any other format -- yet! Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Mar 18, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 5: Daylight Savings (with Goh Nakamura)
On this week's episode, we have a special guest: musician Goh Nakamura joins us to talk about the films Surrogate Valentine and its sequel Daylight Savings, directed by Dave Boyle. In both movies, Goh plays a version of himself as he travels around the country on a music tour. Several women enter his life, including Lynn Chen playing his high school crush, Ayako Fujitani as an ex-girlfriend, and Jane Lui as a friend who catches his eye -- but it's him and Yea-Ming Chen, another real-life musician playing a version of herself, who seem to have the most natural chemistry. Goh tells us about how two non-actors rehearsed their way to become a believable onscreen couple. He also lets us imagine what it would've been like if his character was named Joe Nakamura. But best of all, Brian asks: um, didn't you guys tell us (your fans) in your Daylight Savings interviews that you wanted to continue the collaboration and do a part 3? If nothing else, this episode serves to remind everyone that it doesn't matter how many years it takes or many awards Dave Boyle wins, a promise is a promise. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Mar 11, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 4: Almost Perfect
This week's episode is about Bertha Bay-Sa Pan's Almost Perfect from 2011, a romantic comedy starring Kelly Hu and Ivan Shaw. We've talked about how uncommon it is to have a fully-fleshed-out love story between two Asian American characters in film -- and how it's even rarer it is for those couples to actually have chemistry past a few simple meet-cute moments, only because so many elements have to come together in a film (acting, writing, directing, ample screen time, sometimes movie-star hotness) to get an audience to really root for a couple onscreen. Because of this, even just six years ago, Almost Perfect seemed like an anomaly. Brian was charmed by the effortless charm of Ivan Shaw's Dwayne, who quickly sweeps Kelly Hu's Vanessa off her feet. Ada really liked how he fixed stuff without asking. This was the work of a cast/crew who really understood what beats they needed to hit to make us believe we were in a romantic comedy -- and sure, call it a formula, but believe we did. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Mar 04, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 3: The Namesake
This week, we're talking about The Namesake, a 2003 novel by Jhumpa Lahiri that was later adapted into a 2006 feature film by director Mira Nair. The trailer makes it seem like the movie is mostly about the American-born son's character (played by Kal Penn) and his romances, but watching it again 11 years later (and 11 years older), we were floored by how romantic the immigrant parents' relationship is (as played by the incomparable Irrfan Khan and Tabu). Their performances show us that sometimes the ultimate fantasy has less to do with the initial lust and passion we're used to seeing in movies, and more to do with imagining what it'd be like to navigate a new world with a partner, overcome challenges together, raise children together -- and have the love endure, decades later. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Feb 25, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 2: Kelly Loves Tony
In Episode 2 of our season of love, we revisit the 1998 documentary Kelly Loves Tony by Spencer Nakasako. Kelly and Tony, whose families are lu Mien refugees from Laos, live in Oakland, CA, and they've just graduated from high school. She's a good girl (straight A student), he's a bad boy (he used to be in a gang), they're in love, and they have a baby on the way. Kelly Loves Tony was made through a video workshop Nakasako used to run at a development center, where he'd teach youth how to film video diaries about their lives and then edit the footage together into a documentary. This is the 90's, so it predates modern smart phone culture where everyone knows how to take a selfie and perform for the camera. As a result, it's a really raw account of a real-life, opposites-attract love story that is complicated by threats of deportation, immigrant family pressures, and youthful dreams. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. Season 2 explores Asian American romance in film.
Feb 18, 2017
Season 2, Ep. 1: The Crimson Kimono
Welcome back to Saturday School, the podcast where Brian Hu and Ada Tseng teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history! This season is all about "Asian Americans in Love," as we explore memorable Asian American onscreen romances in film that paved the way for the Jessica+Louises, Dev+Rachels and Glenn+Maggies of today. We begin with the Samuel Fuller film, The Crimson Kimono, starring James Shigeta. He plays a Japanese American detective that ends up in a love triangle with his partner and a key witness in their case. Back in 1959, when the film was first released, the posters promoted the film with the scandal of an interracial couple. "YES, this is a beautiful American girl in the arms of a Japanese boy!" the tagline read. "What was his strange appeal to American girls?" 60 years later, Brian and Ada expertly attribute his appeal to the timeless phenomenon we call "James Shigeta's hotness."
Feb 11, 2017
Season 1, Ep. 10: Shopping for Fangs
It's the last episode of the first season of our Saturday School podcast, aka the last "class" of our "semester" on Asian American comedy. We end with the 1998 film Shopping for Fangs, directed by Justin Lin and Quentin Lee, starring an ensemble cast including John Cho, Radmar Agana Jao, Jeanne Chinn, Lela Lee, and Clint Jung. Brian finds comedy in the way the first-time directors play with genres and the upending of what it means to be human/non-human, straight/gay etc. Ada has a lot of empathy for anyone who's turning into a werewolf, no matter how low-budget the facial hair looks. John Cho doesn't look that different now than he did 20 years ago. And we give a preview to Saturday School Season 2, which will hopefully include lots of love and hotness. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Nov 26, 2016
Snow Day In LA
The one where class is canceled, Ada pretends it's because we all need a break for self-care, and Brian has been listening to too much "Yo, Is This Racist?" See you next week! Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Nov 12, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 9: Chutney Popcorn
For this week's episode of Saturday School, we're talking about the 1999 film Chutney Popcorn by Nisha Ganatra. It's about two sisters -- one who's devastated to learn she can't have children, and the other who contemplates being her surrogate mother. Typical comedic fare. Brian wonders why unconventional, improvised families are such a popular theme in Asian American film. Ada thinks we're all living in an absurd comedy, even if we -- like the characters in Chutney Popcorn -- think we think we're in a stressful drama. They spend the last three minutes of the podcast thinking very deeply about popcorn. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Nov 05, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 8: Catfish in Black Bean Sauce
For this week's episode of Saturday School, we're talking about the 1999 film Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, a cross-cultural comedy written/directed/starring Chi Muoi Lo about a family of Vietnamese refugee kids adopted by African American parents. Brian really appreciates the film 17 years later as a rare Vietnamese American comedy film in the midst of moving dramas about tragedy -- but understands if back in 1999, you chose to go see Magnolia in the art-house theaters instead of supporting a wacky Asian American film that got mixed reviews. Ada and Brian learn they both love Sanaa Lathan from the classic early 2000s romantic comedies Love & Basketball and Brown Sugar -- cause who doesn't? Some combination of Lauren Tom, Mary Alice, Kieu Chinh, and Tzi Ma makes Ada cry. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Oct 29, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 7: Chan Is Missing
For this week's episode of Saturday School, we go back to 1982 and Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing, a film widely regarded as a pioneer of Asian American cinema. But for all it's critical acclaim and prestige, we look at the comedy and discuss why it's still fun to watch today. Ada wonders whether this is how her parents and their friends talked and acted as immigrants back in the 1980s. Brian brings it all back to LL Cool J. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Oct 22, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 6: Fruit Fly
This week, we're talking about 2009's Fruit Fly, a comedy musical by H.P. Mendoza starring L.A. Renigan as Maribel, a performance artist living in San Francisco, making new friends and finding her way. Brian learns that H.P. Mendoza comedies can make you laugh one minute and want to drink your sorrows away the next. Ada looks back nostalgically on her gay clubbing days and appreciates that no one lined up in a circle accusing her of being a fag hag (as they do to L.A. Renigen's character in the movie), but imagines she would have been okay with it if they had done it through song. They'll both always remember that magical Fruit Fly premiere night at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco, surrounded by Colma: The Musical fans, anticipating what delights the team would bring us next. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Oct 15, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 5: They Call Me Bruce? (with Michael Kang + Klee & Ryatt)
We have a very special episode of Saturday School this week, where we have guests! We recorded LIVE at the Comedy Comedy Festival earlier this year, and we invited director Michael Kang and his daughters Klee and Ryatt to talk about 1982's action comedy They Call Me Bruce? -- which was a pivotal film for the older Kang, who first saw the film when he was 12 and said it "changed his life." Kang remembers what it meant to see the Korean American Johnny Yune performing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and talks about what it was like showing the film to his daughters, knowing they wouldn't get many of the decades-old pop culture references. Not-so-spoiler alert: Klee and Ryatt got bored really fast and started messing around on the side, and we thought it was quite fitting that we forced the next generation to come to Saturday School and they didn't listen or learn anything. We, on the other hand, learned about the YouTube channel Klee is planning on starting! Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Oct 08, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 4: Loins of Punjab
Episode 4 of Saturday School is about a special film called Loins of Punjab Presents, a mockumentary about a Bollywood Idol singing competition in New Jersey. Ada learns that Brian likes any film with the word "loins" in it. (You're welcome, aspiring filmmakers submitting to the San Diego Asian Film Festival, for the free advice.) Brian throws his full support behind the gay bhangra singer who goes by Turbanotorious B.D.G., played by Ajay Naidu of Office Space fame. But really, this is an example of a film that we especially wanted to bring out of the vault. Especially because the late director was never able to make any more films, it's gems like these that can be easily forgotten about if we're not reminded to look back. ​ Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Oct 01, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 3: The Wedding Banquet
In this week's episode of Saturday School, we go back a little further in time: to 1993 and Ang Lee's second film, The Wedding Banquet. It's a comedy of misunderstandings that lead to a fake wedding to placate Taiwanese parents who desperately want their (closeted gay) son to get married. Brian provides important historical context about how this film influenced not only Asian American cinema, but American independent cinema and Taiwanese cinema. Ada accidentally laughs too hard at Brian's parents' concerns about his love life. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.s
Sep 24, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 2: Ping Pong Playa
Get ready for Episode 2! You better have done your homework, which was to watch Jessica Yu's Ping Pong Playa from 2007, starring Jimmy Tsai. This week, Ada learns that Ping Pong Playa is about more than the comedy of grown men wearing short shorts, but also the humor of Asian American men who overcompensate in attempts to prove their masculinity in a society that often desexualizes them. Brian learns that when Ada says she related to the scenes with the immigrant parents, it's partially about the sonic authenticity of the Chinese American accents (which generally gets messed up a lot), but mostly about that familiar tone of voice when you get yelled in Mandarin for being ridiculous. Ada also learns who Manu Ginóbili is. Saturday School is a podcast where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies. 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids.
Sep 17, 2016
Season 1, Ep. 1: Randall Park Shorts
This is the official launch of our new podcast Saturday School, where we teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. First season will be about Asian American film comedies, and starting today, 10 episodes will be released every Saturday at 8am, which is when we were forced to go to Chinese school as kids. There are so many cultural classics worth bringing out of the vault, but for our very first episode, we thought it was important to start with a selection of Randall Park comedy shorts circa 2006-2009. AKA rich narratives about dragons of love, cooking with cocaine, magical semen, getting kicked out of IKEA, and what happens if you wake up conjoined to your father. So clearly, you can trust us with the next generation. (No promises on whether you can trust Randall Park circa 2006-2009 with your kids though.)
Sep 08, 2016