In a once-popular commercial for Calgon detergent in the 1970s, a curious housewife probes the Chinese owner of the local laundry for the answer to one of the world’s eternal mysteries: “How do you get shirts so clean, Mr. Lee?” After peering over his shoulder (so as to be sure that his not-so-discreet wife isn’t standing near) the man turns back around, raises a finger to his lips and says through a smile, “Ancient Chinese secret!”
While the answer to the question posed to the laundry owner by the woman was a closely guarded secret — one that his sweet, no-nonsense wife happily ruined — it was neither ancient nor even Chinese in origin. But the TV spot famously tapped into one of the most enduring legends about the country whose Ming Dynasty rulers had a 16-to-26 foot wall built around it: the age-old traditions of secrecy. …
Fear not, true believers, this senses-shattering essay wasn’t published with a spelling error in the title. Instead of the well-known Japanese word samurai, what you see in the above is actually a clever-ish bit of wordplay that uses the name of an island in the South Pacific Ocean province of Papua New Guinea. A little island called, obviously enough, Samarai.
With that partial explanation out of the way, please take note that today’s life-altering lesson will begin with a brief story about how I ran into Bob Okazaki, the creator of the comic book, action figure and animated character Afro Samurai, at San Diego Comic-Con. …
Bad enough that We Got This Covered, a popular entertainment reporting site based in Canada, has a reputation across the fandoms now for clickbait journalism (read: fake news). A rep so well known that the admins of geek-centric groups on Facebook, IFLM (I Freakin’ Love Marvel) being one of many, have instituted bans on the sharing of articles published by the site.
If a well known reputation for clickbait journalism wasn’t already bad enough, a deep dive by yours truly into the comic book movie and TV show-related articles published by the site over the last year and a half reveals an even more insidious side to We Got This Covered’s journalistic practices. …
“When did she become black?” That question from a puzzled fan was one of many tepid responses heating up the interwebs back on July 9, 2019, when the cover of Vogue featuring a photo of Ariana Grande with a strikingly dark tan was posted to Instagram by the fashion + lifestyle publication. The print version would begin to grace newsstands soon after.
Posed in the photo with her beloved Chihuahua-Beagle mix, Toulouse, Grande sits on a beach before a frothing white shoreline. Her svelte torso is hugged by the crinkled fabric of a little black sundress. A twirled shoulder strap straddles Grande’s lithe left tricep. Atop her naturally dark-n-curly tresses — accentuated by freshly brushed “baby hairs” — sits an absolutely ginormous black sun hat. …
From that body rocking moment in time back in 1979, when Sugar Hill Gang rapper Big Bank Hank waxed poetic about the mack game that he’d once spit to Superman’s girlfriend (reporter Lois Lane), the love affair the hip-hop generation has with comic books was pretty much set in stone.
Or, more accurately, etched into the grooves of black, 12” vinyl.
In the four-plus decades since record needles were first dropped onto Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, the technologies that we use to listen to music now have changed significantly. …
A humongous tsunami of interest in Nubia, Wonder Woman’s formerly forgotten twin “sista,” came crashing down on the nerdiverse — quite unexpectedly — right after the blockbuster film Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, hit movie theaters in the summer of 2017.
The somewhat obscure character’s first appearance was in the pages of Wonder Woman #204, published by DC Comics in February 1973. In a remixed and remastered Wonder Woman origin tale, Nubia would be fashioned out of dark clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta. Diana, her better-known twin, was fashioned from clay of a lighter hue.
Aside from her three-part origin story, though, Nubia would only make a few appearances in the comics. …
Phase 2 was a hard man to find. It’s why Jerome Harris, a graphic designer and design director at Housing Works in New York, reached out to me––a culture writer, designer, and unabashed fan of Phase 2––and others, like film director Charlie Ahern (Wild Style) and artist/photographer David Schmidlapp, a longtime friend of the illusive hip-hop subculture icon.
In the fall of 2018, Jerome curated a show for MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) that explored the work of African-American graphic designers. …
The unexpected ‘theatrical appearance’ of the beloved radioactive monster from Japan during a largely forgotten 4-minute sequence in the 1975 film Cooley High may be one of the coolest examples of product placement in the history of modern cinema. But then, American International Pictures (AIP), the U.S. distributer of Godzilla films then and the maker of Cooley High, was in no way your average movie studio.
After entering the film business as an independent in 1954, AIP found an unexploited niche and promptly consolidated its fledgling position in the film business by focusing its efforts into making movies that were irresistible to teens. …
In Chungking Express (1994), a busty Chinese barkeep in a curve-hugging mini-dress and a strawberry blonde wig clanks a coin into a glittering Wurlitzer jukebox stationed a few feet from the bar. Moments later, the rock-steady reggae of Dennis Brown’s “Things in Life” begins to churn. With her right hand gripping the jukebox, the bartender gyrates her hips to the swirling Jamaican rhythm and, with a dainty left hand, raises a slim-necked Corona bottle to her lips.
This mesmerizing scene, one of many in a film packed with visually poetic contradictions, appears near the tail end of one of two interconnected stories in the art-house flick directed by Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-Wai. It’s an art-house flick that, by the way, has virtually nothing at all to do with the subject at the center of the present essay. …
Arles, France – July, 1890
“I must hurry. Time is running out.
So little time left for me to paint!”
He worked himself as a slave,
drove himself like a locomotive.
And possessed by the love of his craft,
he hastened up the pebbled path.
It was almost sunset,
and he had to paint the crows today.
Beneath a tattered straw hat,
that framed his gruff, sun-battered face,
a bloodstained bandage covered his damaged profile.
He acknowledged my presence.
In reverence, I joined him for a while.
Under that tattered straw hat,
dark, covetous eyes squinted over the horizon
as if they could consume the natural setting,
devouring it completely and wholly. …