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For more information, send email to Ken Chen

Tsai Ming Liang
Film review, Reverse ShotThis explains why we know everything about Tsai’s characters except what they are thinking. His characters seem like strangers even to themselves not necessarily because they are alienated but because we have access to their bodies, rather than their selves. We are omniscient rather than intimate.

My Father and My Mother Decide My Future and How Could We Forget About Wang Wei?
Poem, Palimpsest

House of Flying Daggers
Film review, H2SO4 In the film's first half, Zhang and Takeshi act almost ostentatiously badly, like goofy, dreamy-eyed cartoon people, bouncing around, propagandizing their fairy tale emotions.

Old Song
Chinese poetry translation, Five Fingers Review

Of Of
Essay, MeThree This is an apology for the word of, maybe my favorite word. I realized it was my favorite word when a friend of mine asked me what my favorite word was and I said of was my favorite word.

Statue of Liberty
Fiction, Palimpsest

Film review, Reverse Shot Satire is the narrative of critique, but its critique is like Hulk Hogan telling us he could knock out Andre the Giant. All satire tells us is that one fake thing is better than another fake thing.

Looking South to the River (II)
Chinese poetry translation, Boston Review of Books

Mercury Rising: Contemporary Poetry from Taiwan
Book review, Kyoto Journal Let’s say that somewhere out there, there are factories for souls. Let’s say that you’re a soul-engineer and you’ve just got handed an assignment: lyric poet. How would you make the best poet possible?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Film review, Reverse Shot The film is a metaphysical chase movie—the villain we flee from is forgetting.

Poem, Berkeley Poetry Review

Film review, Reverse Shot As with many beautiful non-realist films, watching Hero is a humorless quest. What’s surprising is how all the thrilling verb-qualities of the action have been stripped away from the glamorous punch-outs.

Yes, A Conversation Between Car and Confucius
Poem, Kyoto Journal

Spiderman 2
Film review, Reverse Shot The chief adversaries in Spiderman 2 aren’t Spiderman and Doc Ock: they are private life versus public life. His grades take second priority to sleepless car chases, his eyes wilt baggily from too much dutiful vigilantism, and Mary Jane all but abandons him for the odd way he’s always disappearing on her—Maguire’a character has to choose between being Spiderman or being Peter Parker. In other words, Spiderman 2 is a four-color allegory about distributive justice.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Film review, Reverse Shot Watching a great tennis match can be exhilarating but we don’t call it an artistic masterpiece: why then should we treat The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King any differently?

Poem, Diner

City out of Breath
Essay, Manoa In Hong Kong, the world stretches time until time—along with space and language—goes elastic. It's like a Chinese painting, in which conflicting perspectives soak through the landscape like radiation. A McDonald's sits next to a vegetable cart tended by a woman who looks about five hundred years old. The all-Chinese police band plays bagpipes and marches in kilts for the Saint Patrick's Day parade. Street markets are the opposite of flowers: opening up at night and closing at day. In Hong Kong, all times are contiguous.

Civilization and its Disk Contents
Essay, Radical Society Fun is a difficult piece of critical terminology for a game like Civilization III.

The Ring
Film review, Bridge Watts became a star in a David Lynch comeback (Mulholland Drive) and now follows that up with The Ring, a David Lynch appropriation. If parody can be likened to a fun house mirror, an image that reflects another image while distorting it, then the shape of appropriation is more like a box.

Ishmael Reed
Interview, Satellite “I'm not bound by the opinions of the American cultural elite which often sounds like an overseas colony yearning for the motherland.”

Editors of Giant Robot magazine
Interview, Satellite "Who's your favorite Transformer?"

Jazz composer Jon Jang
Interview, Satellite "My music does not come from the third stream, but from the flowing stream."

Typographer Andy Crewdson
Interview, Satellite "People won't pay you to design fonts. That's probably an impractical thing."

How to Win Writing Prizes at Berkeley
Essay, Satellite Don't believe what everyone else thinks--it's much harder to lose prizes than win them. Winning the Berkeley writing prizes that pop up each March, for example, confers the respect of one's peers and mentors, as well as near-infinite sums of money. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is difficult.

How computers will change storytelling
Essay, C-Theory But, the most defining test medium is life itself. If the online narrative succeeds as a popular art form, it may be like a film — rarely expressionistic, completely literal, and conforming to the reality of the physical world.

Speak Magazine editor Dan Rolleri
Interview, Satellite "My ambition is to produce a magazine, not a brand and not a demographic market."

I, Object
Poetry, Satellite All Across America graves need to be dug! We must lay to rest those who lack personalities! I shall be the first to be buried!

Comics 101: Five Comic BooksYou Should Read
Essay, Satellite Love and Rockets is one of the few comics that can ace that most popular yet grueling of tests--your girlfriend will like it.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at American Beauty or Why I Hated It
Film review, Satellite American Beauty is not satire--it's just bad writing.

Pick-a-Flick: The Movie Recommendation Machine
Film review, Satellite This May, the creators of The Rock are releasing Pearl Harbor, another archetypical summer movie with Ben Affleck and Cuba Gooding Junior. What many people don't realize is that there was actually a battle in World War II bearing, coincidentally, the same name.


All content, unless otherwise noted, (c) Ken Chen, 1998-2006. Ken Chen can be reached by email.

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