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Let’s get ready to wrassle in Pyongyang!

K2014080300215-450Following the glory of his 1995 pay-per-view special Collision in Korea, attended by over 150,000 obedient North Korean citizens (but more like 350,000 if you ask the North Koreans) in Pyongyang, Japanese former pro-wrestler turned pro-wrestling promoter, vitamin water and condom salesman, who does some politics on the side Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is in the midst of putting on his second international professional wrestling showcase in North Korea.

Inoki not only put on the first Collision in Korea, North Korea’s first attempt to gather up the world’s top pro-fighters, he headlined it. Instead of the world’s top fighters, they got Ric Flair getting his ass kicked by Inoki. George Foreman turned down the offer to participate. The line-up was mostly Japanese fighters and some undercard American WWF personalities, with Muhammad Ali sitting in a VIP box watching his former rival take down Nature Boy.  tumblr_l7grnfTrDc1qb978qo1_500

In 1976, shortly before his retirment, Ali went to Tokyo for a watered down MMA exhibition and went up against a sassy, spandexed Inoki. Ali talked his classic smack, called his opponent an Oriental, and dissed karate. That was before Inoki butt-scooted around the boxing ring kicking the crap out of Ali’s legs, and ended up Asian Squatting on his face.

For the revival of Collision in Korea, Inoki has brought in mostly US and Japanese athletes, with the only name making headlines in the US being Bob “The Beast” Sapp. Bob Sapp made it into Giant Robot every once in a while in our “Ask Eman” column and a less than flattering mention in our interview with Enson Inoue. Sapp is big in Japan and seems to be the perfect mix of Ric Flair and Dennis Rodman for North Korean celebrity tastes.

Bob Sapp exchanges with N. Korean publicThe event kicked off with arm wrestling well-fed North Korean kids, meet and greets, judo demonstrations, cultural tours, and tug of war. Watch the video on the DPRK’s state television’s Youtube channel to witness the foreign guests shuffle around tourist sites uncomfortably and pull a Korean tour bus with a giant rope.

Young Pioneer Tours, the folks that helped break Pacman and Peso’s musical career with a music video filmed in Pyongyang, set up a tour package that includes access to the event. VIP seats are a steal at $200 bucks. The cheap seats are going for $50.

Why North Korea? Inoki’s first trainer was a Japanese wrestling icon and war hero of North Korean descent. He recruited Inoki in Brazil in 1960, where Inoki’s family was part of Japan’s post-war emigration wave.  All reports say Collision in Korea isn’t a diplomatic mission, but Japan is making efforts to move talks with the DPRK forward for the release of Japanese abductees. They’re reaching out through North East Asian coalitions for regional security and Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister has announced official talks with the DPRK to take place next spring in Sweden.

I don’t think they’re inviting any minor celebrity athletes.





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Water, water, everywhere…

There’s not much new you can say about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge™ but the viral fad continues. People are still producing amusing videos, celebrities are still doing it, money and awareness are being raised, and all across the globe,  Ice Bucket Challenge facebook pages are popping up to collect videos of “fans” of the challenge and to pass it on. There are pages for Brazil, Thailand, Mongolia, Albania, the Phillippines, Cambodia, and India, just to name a few places far from the experiences of the average American ice bucket dumper.

Many of these are countries that rely on foreign aid to sustain their national healthcare programs and where embarrassingly large numbers of their population live without access to clean water. But they’ve all got the internet, and they love American celebrities. A handful of pages mention what ALS is, but most don’t bother. In some cases, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been adopted to raise awareness for regional issues, with the help of an easy to pull off, hashtaggable stunt that pushes some magical, universal glee button we all seem to have in our brains when we see cold water get dumped on someone’s head.

In Cambodia, one group is doing the challenge to raise funds for the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital. In India, journalist Manju Latha Kalanidihi began the Rice Bucket Challenge, a movement to help feed people and raise awareness about ways to alleviate the challenges of poverty across India. Bollywood celebrities are catching on to it and the movement is gaining traction and challenging people to think about how simple it can be to help their less fortunate neighbors just beyond their gated communities.

imagesChina refuses to be left out of the global phenomenon, but China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs is warning the public not to get caught up in the glitz and glam of it all. Residents and officials in Henan Province are asking people to refrain from taking up the challenge, as they continue to struggle against drought and face difficulties finding drinking water.

There are troubling issues  lingering around the wildfire spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge for other movements. Donations to the ALS Association help fund animal testing. Californians, some of them anyhow, are concerned about how it trivializes the threat of drought. Those looking at the bigger picture have tried to remind people about the challenges to healthcare and medical research funding in the US.

More than 5 million USD for the ALS Association was raised in less than one month when the challenge began, and they’ve now passed the 23 million dollar mark with reports of more than 70 million USD being raised for ALS around the world.

Personally, I don’t think anyone is going to top the girl who bled out of her mouth while she took up the challenge in a drug induced stupor, but keep at it, folks.


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Music, MW, News

August show reviews: Street Eaters at the Redwood, Dot Hacker and Crooks on Tape at The Echo, Paul McCartney at Chavez Ravine, Zeros at Los Globos, High on Fire and Arctic at The Echoplex, Slint at the El Rey


Street Eater’s badass new album is relentlessly raw and heavy, and I was stoked to hear the East Bay duo’s latest rippers alongside favorites at The Redwood. Holy crap, they are one of my favorite bands ever, empowered by straight-up DIY punk via Gilman and pushed over the top by the two-way animalistic empowerment that happens between two human beings who dominate at their instruments. Did I mention that their lyrics are smarter than shit? So good.


There were two great openers, too. Nerve Beats are a somewhat jazz-infected, melodic punk trio in the tradition of the Minutemen and Nomeansno. Coming all the way from Honolulu, of course they were really nice dudes as well. I bought some hand-burned CD-Rs and really dig ‘em. I’d tell you which songs especially rule if the titles were listed somewhere. (more…)

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Site Change Up

Yes, the site is looking bad, but we’re in a transition stage to move to Shopify. Yes, the web lords have promised it sooner, but they weren’t able to keep their word. As we started dismantling one site, the other is being worked on. Sorry about the mess, I swear the Giant Robot Store is still working. http://giantrobotstore.com

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GR2: APAK Preview for Lost in Light

blownAway BubbleMagic catchingLight


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Watching Robin Williams

One of my favorite shows featuring Robin Williams was his humble beginnings as Mork from Ork in  Mork and Mindy. I watched this show while in elementary school and remember how I wanted his goofy rainbow suspenders with the pins on them. They actually sold them and I remember a kid named Marco wore them almost everyday to 6th grade. His greeting of Nanoo Nanoo and his word for dammit, Shazbot, was uttered too often. Low-fives were replaced by his special handshake and the lessons he learned that he broadcast back to his leader, Orson, were our lessons too.

I figuratively stood up on my desk and said “Captain Oh Captain” with Ethan Hawke in Dead Poet’s Society, even though I  hated those private school kids. I said Good Morning Vietnam even though I knew nothing about the Vietnam War except what I’ve seen through movies. I like genius films and  Goodwill Hunting captured it, launching mega careers of it’s two stars. Williams, obviously the mentor, both in the film and off the film. I remember fearing Popeye, and seeing that as a kid was actually frightening. Then there’s his doctor roles in Awakenings and Patch Adams. Two of his many feel good / bad films. When Williams hurt on screen, it hurt.

Personally, I know he was an art fan. I recall him being at Giant Robot San Francisco. He quietly looked through an art exhibition during opening night, drawing no special attention to himself. He bought figures and art and was part of the local art culture. He even mentioned our shop in an American Airlines in flight magazine. I’m glad to have built something that he enjoyed.



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Cross (APIA Short Film) Crowd Funding


The boxing film genre is a time-honored staple of American cinema. There’s something about the agony and triumph in this particular sports genre that taps into the heart of the American spirit. Despite this, boxing films starring Asian or Pacific Islander Americans actors are virtually non-existent.

Dir. Gerry Maravilla wants to change that. He’s commenced a crowd funding campaign for his upcoming short film, Cross, on the Seed and Spark platform. Cross portrays the life of a Filipino American (Jason S. Mordeno) as he struggles to pay his mother’s ever accumulating medical expenses. With his family and dreams of becoming a professional fighter on the line, he ventures into the lawless underbelly of San Fernando’s Valley’s backyard boxing.

Maravilla is a San Fernando Valley native and Giant Robot previously featured his music videos on its website. He agrees with the long held grievance that Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are underrepresented in the media and hopes his short film will serve as stepping stone towards more progress on this frontier.

Other cast and crew include B. Rich Adams as executive producer; Melanie DiPietro and Leo Oliva as producers; and Caitlin Kelly as the script supervisor.

Although the script and production plans are already completed, its crowd funding is still far from finished. As of August 8th, its goal of $15,000 is still 40% complete.

But there’s still time!

You can donate here on the film’s Seed and Spark page. Television and radio personality Manny Streetz of 102.7 KISS-FM has thrown his support behind the project. More recently, Actress Bai Ling (The Crow, Crank: High Voltage) lent her support for Cross.

Cross in this rendition is a short film being prepared to shown to financiers and investors. Upon its completion, its producers will submit to film festivals across the country before it reaches online distribution. Backers who support the film at a certain level will receive the added benefit of a digital copy and/or a private streaming video. Once its festival circuit has completed, it will be readily available for anyone and everyone on Seed and Spark’s webpage. The finished product will be used to pitch and acquire further financing towards a feature length film. Hurry up and donate to cinematic history in the making!


For more information about Cross follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or visit their Seed and Spark page.

You can follow Gerry Maravilla and Jason S. Mordeno on Twitter through @gerrymaravilla and @j_sm__. Their Seed and Spark crowdfunding campaign ends on August 17th, 2014.

You can also meet Maravilla and Mordeno at a meeting for “#WeOwnThe8Th,” a communal gathering for Asian American Pacific Islander artists and entrepreneurs and other like-minded individuals. It’s open to all those who wish to attend. (It’s a potluck, so feel free to bring food or drinks to share with other attendees).


The Address is:

#WeOwnThe8th Meeting

Friday, August 8th at 7:00 PM

The Great Company

1917 Bay St., Los Angeles, CA

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GR2: 8/23 – 9/10, 2014 – Deth P. Sun and APAK


GR2: 8/23 – 9/10, 2014 – Deth P. Sun and APAK

Lost in Light

August 23 – September 10th, 2014

Opening Reception with the Artist:  Saturday, August 23, 2014, 6:30-10:00 PM Giant Robot 2 (GR2) 2062 Sawtelle Boulevard Los Angeles CA 90025 For more information about Lost in Light, Giant Robot or anything else, please contact: Eric Nakamura [email protected] 310-445-9276

Apak is Aaron Ayumi Piland . Apak are a husband and wife team who create artwork together as a way exploring the beauty, mystery, and magic of life as well as expressing their love for each other. Apak creates rich and colorful gouache/acrylic paintings featuring the utopian lives and adventures of curious little beings exploring lush fantastic environments surrounded by friendly little animals. Their goal is to bring something beautiful and meaningful into the world in hopes of inspiring us all to live simply, peacefully, and harmoniously.

Deth P. Sun is a painter and illustrator currently residing in beautiful Berkeley, California. Deth is from San Diego, California, and graduated with a BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Deth often paints a cast of characters including an unnamed cat and depicts them in fantastic and also mundane situations. 

About Giant Robot Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based magazine about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994. Over the past 20 years, the Giant Robot brand has expanded to include retail stores and galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, a restaurant, museum and gallery exhibitions, and a popular website. Considered by many as influential in Asian Popular Culture and in pop culture circles in general, it has become an important outlet for a generation of emerging artists, several of whom have achieved mainstream success.

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Game Night 22 – 8/16 7-10pm – Crawl and Crypt of the NecroDancer



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Game Night 22 at Giant Robot 2

Game Night 22 – Crawl and Crypt of the NecroDancer

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014, 7 – 10:00 p.m.
Giant Robot 2
2062 Sawtelle Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90025
gr2.net (310) 445-9276

In conjunction with Destructoid, Meat Bun Apparel, Angry Bananas, and Giant Robot, we are proud to host Game Night 22, an event that takes place at GR2 about every two months. This episode of Game Night will feature two indie games.


Crawl is the local multiplayer dungeon crawler where your friends control the monsters! Battle through dungeons and power up your hero

Crypt of the NecroDancer

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a hardcore rhythm-based roguelike game. Can you survive this deadly dungeon of dance, slay the NecroDancer, and recapture your still beating heart?

Game Night 22 will take place on Saturday, Aug 16th 2014, 7 – 10:00 p.m.

For more information about Game Night, GR2, or Giant Robot please contact:

Eric Nakamura
Giant Robot
[email protected]
(310) 445-9276

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Giant Robot Presents: An Evening with Performance – Ed Lin, traci kato-kiriyama, Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut



Giant Robot 2
2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025
Friday, August 15 at 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Giant Robot is stoked to host a night of readings from the best writers in America. The last time Ed Lin and traci kato-kiriyama read, it was a standing-room only crowd and every book for sale was snapped up. Now, joined with Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut, it’s sure to be another memorable night. Neelanjana Banerjee, managing editor of Kaya Press, will MC the event, which Kaya is co-sponsoring.

traci kato-kiriyama is a nationally-touring writer/actor/multi-platform artist/educator/organizer. She is half of the award-winning PULLproject ensemble, whose show, PULL: Tales of Obsession, has toured from Los Angeles to Toronto and recently appeared in East West Player’s 2-person site-specific show, Our American Voice. She is the organizer of the Generations Of War oral history & peace education project and Director/Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project – which opened it’s 16th season of “Tuesday Night Cafe,” acknowledged in LA Weekly’s Best of L.A. 2013 list as “Best Free Downtown Performance Series.” traci has facilitated writing, performance and arts activism workshops & collaborations for over the last 15 years – including projects such as the Los Angeles Day Of Remembrance performance she directed which brought together Japanese American and American Muslim storytellers; and courses such as “Wellness & Expression in the Asian American Community” for the Claremont Colleges. traci’s written work has been published and presented through a wide variety of platforms (incl. Regent Press; The Undeniables; Rafu Shimpo; Angry Asian Man; Ford Amphitheatre’s Inside The Ford), and she looks forward to finding more time to finish her second book of poetry & writing, slated for publication in early 2015 by Writ Large Press.

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut is a poet, scholar and teacher who teaches creative writing and college composition in Los Angeles. As a Korean adoptee, her creative and scholarly work reflects an ongoing interest to explore the emotional and historical aspects of the Korean diaspora as well as transnational adoption. Previously, she has collaborated on avant garde music and art projects with composers and visual artists. She earned an MFA in poetry (2002) and a PhD in literature and creative writing (2012) from the University of Southern California. Her first book of poetry, Magnetic Refrain, was published in February 2013 by Kaya Press. She is currently completing a second book titled Until Qualified For Pearl, containing lyrical and narrative poems, and a non-fiction critical book about adoption narratives in literature and film. [From Poetry Foundation]

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. Waylaid and This Is a Bust were both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively, and were widely praised. Both books also won Members’ Choice Awards in the Asian American Literary Awards. His third book, Snakes Can’t Run, was published by Minotaur Books in April 2010; it was loved by many and also won an Asian American Literary Award. One Red Bastard was published by Minotaur in April 2012. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014.

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Art, Art Gallery

GR2: Yukinori Dehara – “Tiny Little Objects” – Online


Yukinori Dehara art is available online at this link. 

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Luke Chueh Head Space Sold Out in a Few Minutes

Thanks much everyone. Sorry for the hiccup which ultimately shows the power of the Force – Luke Chueh.grheadspace

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Music, MW, News

Whoa, my photo is in the new Muffs LP! Plus Municipal Waste, The Shrine, Boris, T.S.O.L., White Murder, Susanna Hoffs, Nick Cave, White Dove…

1muffs2Last week, I went to see an in-store/record-release show by The Muffs at Amoeba. They played most of the great new LP and were as aweseome as ever–combining ultra-catchy girl group melodies with no-holds-barred punk rock attitude and out-of-this-world musicianship. So it was an honor to see one of my pictures printed full-bleed on the insert. Kim and Ronnie had asked me for the file but I wasn’t sure how it would be used or if it wound up on the cutting-room floor. My photography is far from great but the photo looks pretty damn good printed 12″ by 12″ and there is some poetry in the situation.

You might recall that Giant Robot mag was spawned in the era of punk rock zines. Before starting it, Eric Nakamura and I had both contributed to publications like Fear of Grown-Ups, Flipside, and Fiz, and he actually has had photos printed on Muffs 7″ singles. (So did early GR contributor Vicki Berndt.) The print version of GR has run its course but I still go to shows and take and share photos, so it’s very cool that one of them would be used by one of my favorite bands and I would join the esteemed ranks of Eric and Vicki. Thanks, Muffs!

2muffs1I went to some other shows, too… I think it was Pabst that sponsored a night of heavy music at The Echoplex. Deep Six band To The Point opened, featuring members of Fetus Eaters and Spazz. I only caught a few songs but their powerful brand of hardcore was straight-up, filler-free, and a perfect way to fire up the evening.


Next up was one of my favorite bands and the new-school kings of skate rock, The Shrine. Does anyone rip harder or have more fun onstage than the trio from Venice? And are there nicer dudes anywhere? So what could be better than having the homies practically in my backyard at a six-dollar show. No, they didn’t play “Symptom of the Universe” (Sabbath, of course). Yes, they sang, “The Duke” (by friend and supporter Chuck Dukowski). Friends on the East Coast and in Japan, don’t miss them when they head your way.



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Luke Chueh Head Space Print Set – Site Crashed – Thanks to You!

Luke Chueh’s Head Space Series print will be released tomorrow. [LINK]. Tuesday at 12noon pst. We will be advertising a link for this shortly. We will direct you to a Shopify page instead of our own page to prevent something like this from happening. In the history of our site, we haven’t seen anything like this. Surely a site should be robust enough to handle 50 prints, right? Thankfully Luke is forgiving and this shouldn’t happen again. For now, excuse our mess. It’s embarrassing and we’re dealing with it. The little rise on the left, that’s normal, but the huge spike? It’s a record. A huge record. http://giantrobotstore.myshopify.com

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 3.54.14 PM

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SDCC 2014 Wrap Up + Podcast Link


It’s a week since Comic Con ended and for GR’s 20th year there, it was another success. I’m not sure how to measure that word these days, but while we struggle to make sense of “trends” especially in the micro economics of the world around GR, which means toys, figures, art, t-shirts and other coveted objects, we still manage to have a decent time. It’s like a camping trip where you’re together with others, each pulling and pushing in their own ways. It’ll never be perfect, and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Yet, I know it’s fun when the 6 days we’re away flies by as fast as any week I’ve lived through. Comic Con for me isn’t about panel discussions, stars from the Game of Thrones, LEGO, Mattel or Hasbro. It’s also not the many smaller booths.

Comic Con is what you make of it. For each person walking in the doors, it’s sort of DIY. You might miss out on the most coveted panel, but there’s so much else to do that it’s best to move on. The place is huge, the services are vast. There’s not much to complain about. We’ll be back in 2015 and we’ll refine ourselves a little bit more.

Some highlights and some lows

1) This year, Linkin Park played for free out Petco Park. Their “five song” set turned into something like 9 songs. Great job Mr Hahn for the show and his now sold movie. The Mall.


2) Friends and artists came through the booth. I didn’t have to leave.

3) Downtown is too crowded, so leaving the area is a pleasant thing to do.

4) Cosplay gets better and better. Cosplay is also at times, quite bad. Both are highlights.


5) LEGO won’t sell to anyone with a vendor badge. We are people too.

6) Freeman Company’s service is great, thanks to whatever deal they have with Comic Con.

7) I made a podcast appearance for KPBS. Guest Host Amy Nicholson (of LA Weekly) interviews KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando and Giant Robot’s Eric Nakamura. Here’s the link.

8) The designer toy section changed a lot, many vendors weren’t there, and that left a gap that might not ever be filled again.


9) Luke Chueh Head Space prints kicked ass.

10) The many SDCC exclusives at our booth. For some reason, it’s fulfilling to have a bunch of special items.


11) Yokohama Yakitori Koubou, the best meal of the weekend. It puts a smile on everyone’s face.


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