Monday, July 28, 2008

KFC’s Taste of Asia Menu… wait, what?!

Recently KFC has been airing a new commercial in Canada for their new “Taste of Asia” menu. The first time I saw it, I thought the commercial was clever, partly because I’d recently learned the Chinese characters (booya CHIN 101) they were using. In the commercial, a little animated 母 and 父 (mǔ and fù – the mom and dad) calling their kids 女and 男 (nǚ and a weird looking nán – the girl and boy [EDIT: after talking to my cousin, I've learned that the character for the son is actually the traditional character 兒, which would be 儿 (er) in simplified) to their KFC dinner. I forgot what happens in the rest of the commercial… maybe someone will stick it on YouTube.

EDIT: Dec 9, 2011 - I found it!

Anyways, it just hit me today, this isn’t really a “Taste of Asia,” it’d be more accurately described as a “Taste of China” or better yet a “Taste of a Part of China.” No wait, I thought of something better; a “Taste of a Part of [North-]American-Imagined China.”

Let me explain. Firstly, the stars of the commercial are animated Chinese hanzi. Secondly, the “flavours” advertised for the menu are Szechuan (safe to assume, from Sichuan Province) and honey-garlic, which is… wait, isn’t honey garlic more of a western flavour? Fine, let’s be generous and count honey garlic anyways, since you can commonly order honey garlic spareribs at Chinese fast food places, at least in North America. Thirdly, you can get fortune cookies with your meal which again can be obtained at Chinese fast food places, but I’m 99% sure fortune cookies are of American origin, not anywhere in Asia. Anyways, mix all those things together, and the common thread between them is Chinese-ish, not “Asian.” Sort of.

Here comes the semi-rant part. If this were a true “Taste of Asia” menu I should be able to expect a little more variety, perhaps from the entire Asia continent and not just from one country (or a partly-imagined country)? Maybe the brilliant marketers behind this promotion reasoned in their minds, that if you took all the countries in Asia, mixed them altogether in a bowl and dipped your finger in your multi-national “Asian slaw” (see pic, and don’t get me started on that name “Asian slaw” either), you’d taste more Chinese than anything (if we were to be doing this reasoning by the total populations of countries)? But what about India’s taste? No curry? As long as I’m doing semi-stereotypical flavours/dishes, what about kimchee? Teriyaki? Alright, east Asia is covered, now what about the flavours from south-east? North? And the middle-east? Is this “Taste of Asia” menu kosher? It better be, if it’s truly a “Taste of ASIA” (which so far, we have determined it isn’t).

You will notice in the picture (which by the way, is a screenshot from the KFC Canada website which I took today) there’s a chance to win a trip for four! Wow! But not just any trip! Follow the link and you’ll se that it’s an “ASIAN-INSPIRED TRIP” (I capitalized that because it’s capitalized on their promotional site: Wow sounds exotic! Where could the destination(s) be? No doubt, it must be somewhere in Asia right? A reasonable person might guess somewhere in China, because of all the “Chinese references” in the menu. Click on the link to the Contest Overview/Prizing Details and it says:

Grand Prize: Enter your code for a chance to win a 7-day trip for four to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco! Visit some of North America’s premier Chinatowns; experience the beauty of authentic Asian cuisine and culture. This once-in-a-lifetime trip includes flights, accommodations, and spending money!

Good, sweet crap! I didn’t see that coming! A contest originating in Canada, for an “Asian-inspired trip” to three American cities and their Chinatowns?! Why is this trip described as “once-in-a-lifetime,” when it’s on the same continent I would be originating from (ahem, North America) if I won this contest?! To be fair, most Canadian live only a few hours drive from the US border… so, crossing the border to go stare at some Chinese Americans isn’t really once-in-a-lifetime (well, for the majority of Canadians anyways). Besides, I’ve seen Chinese Americans before, they sort of resemble me, a Chinese Canadian. How about me for being “Asian-inspired? “…Oh but your face…[trails off]…”

(Note: The above video is sort of irrelevant, but I thought it’s funny)

Maybe someone in KFC Canada should read Chinatown: An illustrated history of the Chinese Communities of Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax by Paul Yee. Just a suggestion.

Chances are, I won’t be eating anything from this “Taste of Asia” menu, not because I don’t agree with it, but more along the lines that I hardly go out and there’s not many KFC’s near where I do happen to go out. Ironically, though, I had the KFC Snacker just over a week ago ($1.89). It was a tad salty, but still declious. Mmmm, I do like fried chicken.

I am heavily anticipating KFC’s “Taste of Africa,” “Taste of Europe,” and “Taste of Antarctica” menus, but not as much as I anticipated The Dark Knight.

I was feeling very lethargic yesterday afternoon, so I drank some Red Bull. I thought it might help. It tasted like I was drinking yellow-ish chemical. Very unnatural tasting. I didn’t really like it. And I ended up falling asleep after drinking it. So much for “helps temporarily restore mental alertness or wakefulness when experiencing fatigue or drowsiness.” *Shrugs*

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vancouver Red Bull Soapbox Race on Sep 7, 2008!

Woohoo! On Thursday July 3, 2008, I was watching the noon news on Global when a Red Bull representative did a promo for their soapbox race in September. The rep made some comments that their application deadline was the next day, they were still accepting submissions for potential teams, and that they hadn’t received enough submissions (it almost seemed like a plea, but not quite).

Anyways, later that night, I thought to myself, “Why not?” and quickly filled in a application, made a crappy design sketch in MSPaint (woohoo), and emailed it to Red Bull (Stoyq agreed to be a team member if it were to be accepted).

Fast forward to three weeks later (yesterday), and there’s a knock on our front door. Behold! A courier with a package… for me! From Red Bull! Woohoo!

Here’s what the letter in the package said (click to enlarge):

Dear Applicant,

Thanks so much for applying for the Red Bull Soapbox
Vancouver race! We were absolutely astounded with the number of submissions we received (over 200) and their high quality.

It made choosing our 50 teams very difficult!

Unfortunately your design did not make it in this time around, but we sincerely appreciate your efforts and hope you will join us on Sunday, September 7th, (4th Avenue, Kitsilano, 11am – 4pm) for what will be an extremely fun day!

Best wishes,
Red Bull Soapbox Vancouver

Boohoo. I sort of had a hunch my application would have been rejected after I hadn’t heard from them in after one week passed. Oh yeah, here’s my sketch that I sent to them. I think it’s funny (click to enlarge):

However, after some consideration, I figure the main reasons my idea wasn’t picked was because, well, its Red Bull. And my design, is well… a Wii. Red Bull is known for high energy, extreme, and somewhat crazy stunts (woohoo). The Wii is not only the product of another company (which would have amounted to free publicity for Nintendo) but its just not really Red-Bull-crazy (perhaps a bit more on the nerdy fanboy-ish side… although I’m pretty sure there are some gamers who drink Red Bull…) Also, it’s not really a soapbox. I agree with the people who decided to reject my submission. From a marketing perspective, it was the right thing to do.

Before I forget, here’s what was in the package with the letter:

Four free cans of Red Bull as a thank you for entering! Woohoo! Well, I thank you, Red Bull, for your kind gesture, as well as your supremely awesome public relations and marketing! I’ve never bought or drank Red Bull before (nor have I ever typed Red Bull so many times in my life) but I guess now I can say I can. Unfortunately, I will probably never buy or drink Red Bull again, at least in the near future. I mean, come on, I don’t even drink coffee! Not in my entire university life have I ever drank coffee. Not even at orientation when Renaissance Coffee was giving it away for free! Hmmm, I’m going off topic…

Anyways, I’ll probably in church during the Red Bull soapbox race in September, so congrats to the teams that made it, and I’ll be sure to catch the highlights on the news. Or on YouTube. I think I will root for this team. Not only does their design look super cool (chickens are delicious, and in their sketch, appear to be aerodynamic as well), but they were the only team I could find on the internet.

For the record, I still think my sketch is funny…

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pointless Post #5

Me: [hearing something on TV] Mom, is “yīnwèi” how you say “because” in Mandarin?

Mom: Yeah. And this is how you say it in our dialect [says something in dialect* (I don’t know how to Romanize it)]

Me: Ooookay….hmmm

Mom: [continuing in dialect] …for example**, “Because he was rude to me, I beat him up for all to see.”

Me: [somewhat shocked at the violent example]

Me: …….. waaaaaahahahahaha!

Violence is funny (that is, when done comically). Actually, its not really the violence thats funny, but the pain. Hehe, pain. Rinkworks has an excellent explanation (see Category #1).

Also, been seeing gas for about 138¢/litre. Apparently the national average for gas has gone down 7¢ since last week, and in Ottawa, its about 120.8¢/litre.

*dialect is Penang Hokkien for those that are curious
**the example my Mom said rhymed in Hokkien, so I tried to duplicate it in the translation.

What are Pointless Posts?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pointless Post #4

In addition to writing my name and phone number with a pen, I was planning to do this to my USB flash drive (which for the record, is not pointless).

In my search for a suitable icon to use, I discovered there are Iron Chef themed icons. These ones made me giggle:

Chairman Kaga

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai

Iron Chef Chen Kenichi

Iron Chef Masahiko Kobe

BUT the ones that made me laugh were these ones:


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ricepaper + A little old and a little new

In recent Tim-news, guess what I got in the mail today? If you guessed the 12.4 issue of Ricepaper, then you're right! Being a quarterly publication, I think 12.4 corresponds 12 equaling the number of years they have been publishing the magazine and 4 being their winter publication of 2007. Shrugs?
For a brief explanation of what Ricepaper is, from the little blurb where it lists the editors and publication information, it says:

Ricepaper is a national literary and arts magazine committed to providing diverse perspectives on contemporary Pacific Asian Canadian identity and culture. Ricepaper's primary emphasis is on the creative work produced by emerging and accomplished Pacific Asian Canadians. The magazine showcases quality work by writers, artists, performers, filmmakers and cultural producers of Hapa, East Asian, and Southeast Asian descent.

Ricepaper is published four times a year by the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, 10 Keefer St., Vancouver, BC, V6A 1X4. Direct all mail to: PO Box 74174, Hillcrest PO, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5V 5C8. Tel: 604.677.1383. Fax: 604.677.2147. e-mail: website:

A quick search also provides that they also own Strange, how they have three different websites…

I’m not sure why I got this magazine today. I think it’s because last summer in 2007, I was walking through the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival and I remember seeing they had a booth set up which intrigued me. I entered some sort of contest and they gave me a free past issue of Ricepaper as a gift (in case you’re wondering, I chose this issue – woohoo Dragon Boys on CBC).

Maybe they are trying to entice me to subscribe. When I started to flip through it, it actually went through my mind, “Maybe I should read more… maybe I should subscribe to this…” But a few seconds later, the more reasonable side of me told me I wouldn’t bother because I don’t really have a main source of income now. Also, I noticed that there’s a very heavy emphasis on culture/arts/writing. Normally, I’m all for those three things. In fact, I’m very intrigued by those three things… except I think Ricepaper is a little too artsy for me.

I’m more inclined to find a good RSS feed that updates regularly to read about similar things… Sort of related, lately, I’ve been finding that there’s nothing like a good news blog that has posts on wide varieties of topics, that more conventional news outlets probably won’t spend as much time covering.

Hmmm… it’s a pity in a way, because in ASC 300? or was it ASC 301? I remember learning that English language Asian Canadian (and Asian American) magazines are very rare and frequently are not successful, but Ricepaper has managed to stay afloat all these years. So kudos to them!

For the record though, there were a number of interesting articles I did find myself reading with curiosity because they were really that fascinating.

Now if I could only read my textbooks like that….

Hmmmmm…… I didn’t actually intend to write so much about Ricepaper… but oh well. My main intention was to write about an observation I made on the bus today, of a young mother, perhaps late twenties, early thirties, with her little baby/toddler… perhaps 1 to 2 years old? I don’t think the baby could speak yet. Anyways, they were very fascinating to observe (sidenote: “fascinating” is such a great descriptive word! but if you say it too often, you might sound too much like Hank McCoy aka Beast from X-Men TAS…).

I found it fascinating when the mother pulled our her Motorola Razr (or some similar looking phone) and the baby immediately reached for it. I later understood why; he wanted to watch his cartoon (the characters looked like Rosemary Wells characters so I’m guessing it was for the pre-school cartoon Max and Ruby).

Imagine what kind of world that little baby is going to grow up in… Being born in the 2000s with so much technology… I mean, for myself, if you talked to me 4 or 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined myself currently being a proud owner of a Creative ZEN Vision: M (which for the record, is superior to the iPoop, sorry I mean iPod in every way). In fact, if you talked to me 10 years, ago, I wouldn’t have imagined myself currently being a proud owner of a gadget that plays not only music but video as well, allowing me to watch stuff like TV shows or movies on my long commutes on the bus(es), in the palm of my hand! And now, technology is allowing for faster, cheaper devices, that do even more? Sort of bewildering the pace at which our tech progresses.

So that was the new stuff.

What about the old?

I observed the baby throw a mini-tantrum, kicking/hitting the side of the bus, making an incredibly loud noise. To stop him, the mother gently slapped him a few times on the arm/leg and scowled (angry scowl) at him to cut it out. The baby didn’t cry (the slaps weren’t hard enough) and he looked at his mother’s face and he stopped.

I wanted to stand up out of my bus seat and applaud that woman. (I’m saying the following in a somewhat sarcastic, yet very serious way) Yes! Thank you! A message for all you parents in the world: If you love your kids, BEAT THEM!. Spanking your child is the way to go. It is biblical and effective. No I don’t condone child abuse (or other people abuse, unless they're absolutely asking for it), but as part of the punishment, please parents, beat your children! I don’t know how many episodes of Supernanny (shutup, I’m not gay) I’ve seen with my Mom where I’ve just wanted to scream at the television, “Smack your kids already!” I know I’m don't have any place to judge (yet) but I don’t think too highly of parents who have kids who misbehave. And I don’t think too highly of the kids who misbehave either. But most of the time, it’s the parents fault. So please, parents, beat your kids.

As a former child who was spanked (ahem, actually my mom tried to swat me with a metal hanger a few months ago because I was being snippy…), I endorse it 1000000%. And so does Russell Peters (warning: foul language, but highly funny).

In the latest Pointless Post, I said I'd make an Instructables of what I'd hacked the USB cable for, but it turns out other brilliant people thought of this before me as there are already a few on there. All I did was cut the USB cable in half attached an old CPU fan and now I have a little desk fan to cool down my laptop. It helps! 我就喜欢!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pointless Post #3

Oh look, its a "honey badger!" Isn't it cute?
With a name like that, it's got to be cute!
If you think that, you are wrong because:

Honey Badger = THUG LIFE

Oh yeah, he keeps it real!

In other news, I found my USB cable... and hacked it! I'll make an Instructables
some day.
And I saw gas for 149.5¢/litre on June 30, the day before the Carbon Tax kicked in. I saw it today for 149.9¢/litre.

What are Pointless Posts?