Friday, December 22, 2017

Hiep Thi Le, Actress and Restaurateur, Dies of Cancer at 46

Actress, Hiep thi Le, who starred in Oliver Stone's third movie in his Vietnam war trilogy, passed away three days ago due to complications from stomach cancer.  Le is survived by her husband, two children and six siblings.

She was born in Da Nang in 1971 and came to America as boat people in 1979.  Her family settled in Oakland.  She went to UC Davis with a dream of going to medical school.

As a college student, she went to an open casting call in Northern California.  "...I don't know how I got here ... My cousin heard about these auditions for a movie, and I just went with a friend to see what it was about. They kept calling me back", she explained. 

Le was selected out of  16,000 Viet-Americans seen by casting scouts for Oliver Stone's  Heaven & Earth.  She was chosen for the starring role of portraying Le Ly Hayslip.   In the film, she played a woman who ages from 13 to 38, who became an abused housewife, mother and successful businesswoman in the United States.

Following Heaven & Earth, for which she received critical acclaim, Le would have roles in the movies Cruel Intentions and Green Dragon as well as minor acting roles  in television shows.

She also made a career as a chef and restaurateur.   She was the co-owner of  the popular Le Cellier, a French-Vitenamese restaurant in Marina Del Rey, just south of Venice Beach, California.

Bill Gates and " The Sympathizer"

This is taken from the blog of Bill Gates and his book review. Gates often says that he tries to read one book per week

A fresh take on the Vietnam War

I didn’t know what to expect the first time I visited Vietnam.
Although I’m a bit too young to have worried about my draft number, the Vietnam War cast a long shadow over my youth. Like many people of my generation, my view of the conflict was influenced by violent, American-centric movies like The Deer Hunter. So I was unsure when I found myself on a plane to Hanoi in 2006. Many of the people I was scheduled to meet with lived through the war. Would they resent me for being American?
The answer was, to my relief, a resounding no. Everyone I talked to was warm and welcoming. You would have never known our countries were at war just decades earlier. But the visit made me realize how little I had seen or read about the Vietnamese perspective on the war.
In the years since that trip, I’ve tried to learn more about the Vietnamese experience. Most recently, I picked up The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. I don’t usually reach for historical fiction, but when a good friend recommended it, I picked up a copy—and I’m glad I did.
The Sympathizer’s narrator—we never learn his name—is a communist double agent embedded with the South Vietnamese Army and their American allies. After he’s air-lifted out of the country during the fall of Saigon, he ends up in California spying on his fellow refugees and sending reports written in invisible ink to his handler back in Vietnam.
The story we’re reading is the narrator’s confession, which he is forced to write while held in a North Vietnamese reeducation camp. Much to the chagrin of the camp’s commandant, this confession makes it clear that the narrator is not a true believer in their cause. Instead, he “sympathizes” with people on both sides of the conflict.
For a novel that’s been met with such commercial success and critical acclaim (it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year, and Nguyen recently received a MacArthur genius grant), it is surprisingly bleak. Nguyen doesn’t shy away from how traumatic the Vietnam War was for everyone involved. Nor does he pass judgment about where his narrator’s loyalties should lie. Most war stories are clear about which side you should root for—The Sympathizer doesn’t let the reader off the hook so easily.    
More than 40 years later, many Americans still grapple with the big questions surrounding the Vietnam War: should we have gotten involved? Did our political and military leaders know what they were doing? Did they understand what the human cost of the war would be? (If you’re interested in reading more about this debate, I recommend H.R. McMaster’s excellent book Dereliction of Duty.)
Nguyen largely ignores these questions and instead tackles the role of individual morality in a time of war. The narrator commits horrible acts on behalf of the North Vietnamese government he serves and the refugee community he’s spying on. He plays both sides to survive. In the end, his lack of conviction makes him the most immoral character of all.
Despite how dark it is, The Sympathizer is still a fast-paced, entertaining read. I liked one particularly memorable section where the protagonist meets a famous Hollywood director and becomes a consultant for the Vietnam War epic he’s working on called The Hamlet. His attempts to bring the Vietnamese perspective into the film are thwarted at every turn by the director, who eventually grows so sick of the narrator that he may have tried to kill him with a stunt explosion gone wrong (the book doesn’t make it clear whether he did or not). If you’re a movie buff, you’ll notice that The Hamlet bears more than a passing resemblance to Apocalypse Now.
In an interview with NPR last year, Nguyen shared the story of the first time he saw Francis Ford Coppola’s classic film. He described watching a scene where American soldiers kill Vietnamese people as “the symbolic moment of my understanding that this was our place in an American war, that the Vietnam War was an American war from the American perspective and that, eventually, I would have to do something about that.” The Sympathizer offers a much-needed Vietnamese perspective on the war. I’m glad that it’s experienced such mainstream success, and I hope to read more books like it in the future. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mai Khanh Tran for US Congress

Going up against a 12-term California GOP Rep. Ed Royce is a tough battle for anyone not alone a political novice.   But a Magna Cum Laude Harvard graduate and a Wall Street analyst-turned medical doctor,  Mai Khanh Tran is taking on a challenge.

The district covers northern Orange County, eastern LA County and part of San Bernardino County (including cities like Diamond Bar, Chino Hills, Fullerton and Yorba Linda).  Ethnic diversity is becoming a reality for this once Republican bastion with 50% of the population is Latinos and Asians. Royce's district has a 1.7% point Republican edge in voter registration.

Ed Royce is an active politician and has built a strong relationship with his ethnic voters and he is considered to be one of the more effective lawmakers in the US Congress.

 Tran's main reason to against him so far is his close tie to Donald Trump and his voting against the  national health care that will result in about  25 millions American without health insurance coverage.

Running in an expensive media market against a well known incumbent who has a war chest of over $3 million, Tran will have a difficult time unless she can make a strong case for herself or Donald Trump implodes catastrophically and rile up the Democratic voting bloc.

Friday, June 16, 2017

19-6, Vietnamese National Armed Forces Day Honor

This is a resolution passed recently by the California State Senate to honor Vietnamese soldiers and their contribution in the war against the communist.    Before the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975, June 19 was the Vietnamese National Armed Forces Day to honor the soldiers and their service to South Vietnam.

Only the Vietnamese version was released from the Office of State Senator Janet Nguyen. 

June 15, 2017 (714) 741-1034

 Thưng Ngh  Janet Nguyễn  Thượng Vin Tiểu Bang California vinh
danh Cu Quân Nhân VNCH
(Garden Grove, CA)  Trong tinh thần tri ơn đối với nhng s hy sinh ca các cu chiến sĩ VNCH, Thưng Ngh Sĩ Janet Nguyn xin trân trọng thông báo Thưng Viện Tiểu Bang California vừa thông qua Nghị Luật SCR 61. Nghị Luật này do Thưng Nghị  Janet Nguyễn  tác giả để vinh danh  k niệm Ngày 19, Tháng Sáu là Ngày Quân Lực VNCH, trong Tiểu Bang California.

“Sự chn lựa đc biệ
này là đ tỏ lòng kính trọng  ghi ơn các Cựu Quân Nhân VNCH đã chiến đu can đảm cùng với các Chiến sĩ Hoa K đ bảo vệ T Do  Dân Ch cho ngưi dân
trong cuộc chiến Việt Nam,” Thưng Nghị  Janet Nguyễn phát biểu.   

“Tôi rt hân hạnh  đưc sự ng h của các đồng viện tại Thưng Viện trong vic thông qua ngh lut này đ vinh danh
Ngày 19, Tháng Sáu là ngày mà toàn thể cư dân California ng nhớ đến những đóng góp và hy sinh của các quân nhân rất đáng đưc vinh danh này.”

Trong cuc chiến Vit Nam, quân đội Hoa K  VNCH đã cùng chiến đu bên nhau để đánh bại các lc lưng Cng Sản. Trong c gắng clực lưng đồng minh này, khoảng 58,000 chiến sĩ Hoa K  250,000 chiếnsĩ VNCH đã hy sinh

Hơn 300,000 quân nhân Hoa K  hơn 1 triệu quân nhân VNCH cũng b thương trong lúc chiến đấu đ bảo vệ nn T do Dân ch cho miềNam Vit Nam.

Sau khi SàiGòn b rơi vào tay Cng Sản, hàng ngàn cu chiến sĩ VNCH đã đuợc đnh cư trên đất nưc Hoa K t do yRiêng tại Tiểu Bang California có khoảng 100,000 cựu chiến sĩ VNCH.

Ngày nay, nhng cu quân nhân này là thành viên hoạt động tích cực của các tổ chức cựu chiến sĩ khắp Tiểu Bang California.

“Ngoài nhng cng hiến trên chiến trưng, Cựu Quân Nhân VNCH đã sát cánh cùng với các cựu chiến sĩ đồng minh Hoa K để bảo v  ng h các mđích ca cu chiến binh trong Tiểu Bang California,” Thưng Ngh Sĩ Janet Nguyễn phát biểu. 

Với nghị luật này, chúng ta không ch vinh danh s hy sinh  dn thân ca nhng quân nhân dũng cảm,  đây còn  mt cơ hội để thế h mai sau hiểu đưc ảnh ng tốt đp của việc phục vụ quân sự  cuộc chiến Việt Nam.”

Với ngh lut này, Thưng Ngh  Janet Nguyn cũng mun bày t sự kính trng  tri ơn đối vcác chiến sĩ đã hy sinh, cũng như các nạn nhân trong cuộc chiến Việt Nam. 
Sau khi đưThưng Vin thông qua, Ngh QuyếSCR 61 s đưc chuyn sang H Viện để biu quyết.
                                                                  # # #

The Circle of Life of Navy Captain Huan Nguyen

. ... Its the circle of life All it moves us all Through despair and hope Through faith and love Till we find our place On pa...