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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...

Duration: 00:14:54

Season 3, Ep. 3: Colma: The Musical

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 exact movie, yet she learns so many new things -- for example how there still has not been a better American musical made since Colma came out over a decade ago. (Brian says this, so it must be true.) Richard and H.P. talk West Side Story homages in Colma and try their best not to...

Duration: 00:25:52

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...

Duration: 00:17:27

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...

Duration: 00:11:54

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...

Duration: 00:40:46

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...

Duration: 00:12:54

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...

Duration: 00:14:07

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...

Duration: 00:10:28

Season 2, Ep. 6: Living On Tokyo Time

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...

Duration: 00:09:41

Season 2, Ep. 5: Daylight Savings

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...

Duration: 00:09:59

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...

Duration: 00:08:58

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...

Duration: 00:09:56

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...

Duration: 00:13:27

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...

Duration: 00:09:34

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.

Duration: 00:00:54

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...

Duration: 00:14:33

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...

Duration: 00:11:52

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...

Duration: 00:10:53

Season 1, Ep. 5: They Call Me Bruce? (Special guests: Michael Kang + Klee and 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...

Duration: 00:31:53

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...

Duration: 00:11:13

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