From Hiroko to Susie: The Untold Stories of Japanese War Brides

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Who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

Kathryn Tolbert writes: I thought she was beautiful, although I never understood why she plucked her eyebrows off and penciled them on every morning an inch higher. She had been captain of her high school basketball team in Japan, and she ran circles around us kids on a dirt court in our small town in Upstate New York. I can still see this Japanese woman dribbling madly about, yelling “Kyash! Kyash!” That’s how she said Kath, or Kathy.

[Above: Hiroko and Bill with Kathy, left, Sam and Susan. The video is the trailer to a short documentary film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” which features Hiroko and two other war brides.]

She married my American GI father barely knowing him. She moved from Tokyo to a small poultry farm just outside Elmira, N.Y., and from there she delivered eggs all over the county and into Pennsylvania. My sister describes her as having a “core of steel.” She raised us as determinedly as any mother could, and yet, looking back, I barely knew her.

Some people think the film I co-directed, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” is a paean to loving Japanese mothers. When one interviewer suggested as much to me and fellow director Karen Kasmauski, we exchanged a look that said, “Shall we tell him the truth?” The film, titled after a Japanese proverb, is about strong women, for sure. Warm and loving mothers? No.

So who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

They are sisters and daughters of the ferocious enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor in the “day of infamy,” an enemy that surrendered four years later after waves of firebombing on Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs. They married men who occupied their country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America. There were tens of thousands of them, yet they vanished from public awareness — Japanese women who were barely a blip in immigration history, who married into families of North Dakota farmers, Wisconsin loggers, Rhode Island general store owners.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

The brides, as many as 45,000, landed in the home towns of their husbands, places where Japanese people had been visible only on World War II propaganda posters. Was their skin really yellow? One war bride in South Carolina was asked to pull up her sleeve since no yellow was visible on her hands and wrists.

Hiroko Furukawa Tolbert, 85, mother of Kathryn Tolbert, arrived in Elmira, N.Y., in 1952. Her in-laws called her Susie. (Karen Kasmauski for The Washington Post)

My mother, once a daughter of privilege, came to her in-laws’ chicken farm. She has lived in the same two square miles of countryside ever since. It has been 64 years.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

I read and reread the transcripts from interviews I had recorded with my mother when I was pregnant with my own daughter more than 20 years ago, when I realized I didn’t have even a timeline of her life. Six hours of tapes and they didn’t tell me what I now wanted to know. So I went back to her recently to try to understand what she could possibly have been thinking when she made the choice to marry an American soldier she barely knew. “I wasn’t thinking. I just had to get out,” was one of her succinct responses.

I didn’t know other women like her, although I had two journalist friends who were also daughters of Japanese war brides. When they proposed making a film about our mothers, I readily agreed because I had always wanted to tell her story. And she’s such an excellent raconteur that, sitting beside her in the film as her interviewer, I’m almost an unnecessary prop.

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[VIDEO] Jeff Beck and Tal Wilkenfeld: ‘Women of Ireland’ 

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‘The monster is always to blame – what a convenient stereotype. Everything’s the monster’s fault’

 


[VIDEO] ‘South Park’ To Take On Colin Kaepernick In Season Opener Tonight

South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone doing what they do what they do best: indiscriminately roasting all the sacred cows of American culture without apology.

D.C. McAllister writes: The gods of mockery have heard our prayers. “South Park” is back! This latest clip kicking off the show’s 20th season captures the absurdity of Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter as only “South Park” can. It’s just what we need to cleanse our palettes of political correctness.

A cleanse is exactly what we need. For weeks we’ve been subjected to protests by athletes who have bought into the narrative that racism is institutionalized in America. These people clearly don’t know the difference between an individual racist (and they’re to be found in any country) and a nation that is systemically racist. Maybe they should move to Saudi Arabia to find out.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Instead of presenting reasoned arguments to make their case, they perpetuate ignorance and stir up division in a country that should be united under the banner of freedom for all and which, of all countries on earth, is the freest society for people of all races. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: Jerry Lewis on Film Criticism; Pauline Kael

JERRY LEWIS: “Pauline Kael. She’s never said a good thing about me yet. That dirty old broad. But she’s probably the most qualified critic in the world. Cause she cares about film and those who are involved in it. I wish I could really rap her. But I can’t. Cause she’s very very competent. She’s knows what she’s talking about.”

editor-commen-deskEditor’s note: I stumbled upon this at Roger Ebert’s site while searching in vain for Pauline Kael’s 1974 New Yorker review of Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” – often referred to in lists of Kael’s most notorious “got it wrong” reviews. Because Chinatown (along with the Godfather series) sparked my interest in the 1970s  renaissance in American filmmaking, I watched and studied Chinatown endlessly, I’m particularly interested in Kael’s contrarian view of it. I haven’t found yet, it may not be online. So unless I track it down in one of Kael’s books – or a reader is kind enough to point me to it – I’ll have to simply enjoy the things I found instead of what I was originally looking for.

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Primarily, things other critics have said about Kael, and her book “I Lost it at the Movies”. In particular, this interview. On Ebert’s site I found this Jerry Lewis appearance on the Dick Caveat Show, and it’s marvelous! An unexpected show of admiration for film reviewers.

What impressed me is Jerry’s acceptance of even the harshest criticism of his movies, as long as the critic actually took the time to examine the work, and wrote a serious analysis of the movie he made. Otherwise, he had no patience for it. Read the rest of this entry »


The Fastest Man Alive in 1:12 Scale!

The Scarlet Speedster joins One:12 Collective! This action figure sports 32 points of articulation, a real fabric uniform, and numerous interchangeable accessories. A seamless blend of a timeless icon with a “real world” look, this 1:12 scale figure was designed with collectors in mind….(read more)

Source: Graphic Policy


‘Captain Diamond and the Space Pirates’

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[PHOTOS] The Last Days of East Germany: 40 Fascinating Photographs That Capture Everyday Life in Berlin in the late 1980s

From vintage everyday: Between 1961 and 1989, the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany and prevented the mass defection that took place after World War II. It also acted as a symbolic partition between democracy and Communism during the Cold War period. The wall was erected in the middle of the night, but it was torn down just as quickly 28 years later, leading to Germany’s reunification.

In January 1988, Erich Honecker paid a state visit to France. By all indications, the long stretch of international isolation appeared to have been successfully overcome. The GDR finally seemed to be taking its long-sought place among the international community of nations. In the minds of the GDR’s old-guard communists, the long-awaited international political recognition was seen as a favorable omen that seemed to coincide symbolically with the fortieth anniversary of the East German state.

In spite of Honecker’s declaration as late as January 1989 that “The Wall will still stand in fifty and also in a hundred years,” the effects of glasnost and perestroika had begun to be evident in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Although the GDR leadership tried to deny the reality of these developments, for most East Germans the reforms of Soviet leader Gorbachev were symbols of a new era that would inevitably also reach the GDR. The GDR leadership’s frantic attempts to block the news coming out of the Soviet Union by preventing the distribution of Russian newsmagazines only strengthened growing protest within the population.
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[VIDEO] Star Trek: The Libertarian Edition

Their mission: to seek out new life and new civilizations, and leave them alone. Trade with them if they want, but mostly leave them the hell alone.

In honor of Star Trek‘s 50th Anniversary, Reason presents the Libertarian parody of the final frontier, with appearances by Gary Johnson and Remy. Read the rest of this entry »


Fantasticar in ‘Fantastic Four’ #12


Japanese Movie Poster: ‘Chinatown’, 1974

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Chinatown 

USA, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston


Color Photographs of Paris Taken in 1914

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Albert Kahn. Vintage Paris 1914.

Albert Kahn. Vintage Paris 1914.

Albert Kahn. Vintage Paris 1914.

Albert Kahn. Vintage Paris 1914.

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Albert Kahn. Vintage Paris 1914.

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Daniel Craig ‘Offered $150 Million to Return as James Bond’ 

But Hollywood superstar Daniel Craig is not most people.

The 007 actor, who has played the spy since 2005, has reportedly been offered the hefty sum listed above to return to the franchise for two more films. But Craig has made no secret of his reluctance to step back into the famous tuxedo.

“Daniel’s the key for a seamless, safe transition as far as Sony and Bond bosses are concerned, and they’re prepared to pay a king’s ransom to make it happen.”

“The studio is desperate to secure the actor’s services while they phase in a younger long-term successor,” a source told the celebrity news website Radar.

The source also suggested that by playing coy – remember when he told an interviewer he’d rather “slash his wrists” than immediately return to Bond? – Craig has only upped his perceived value.

He’s essentially made himself into the man too cool to play Bond.

An article published by Ta Kung Pao this week used a photo of James Bond actor Daniel Craig to illustrate what it described as the widespread presence of M16 agents in Hong Kong. Associated Press

“The studio is desperate to secure the actor’s services while they phase in a younger long-term successor.”

“Everyone knows how much executives adore him, and the idea of losing him at such a crucial time in the franchise isn’t an option as far as all the studio honchos are concerned,” said the source, who added that Craig “has played a genius hand.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] At the foot of the Flatiron, NYC (1903) Directed by A.E. Weed

It’s a very windy day, and the pedestrians passing by the Flatiron Building are having considerable difficulty in keeping their hats from flying off.

Directed by A.E. Weed


‘Goodfellas’ Directed by Martin Scorsese


[VIDEO] Preview: ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ [HD] 

In theaters September 2016.

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Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature) 1899-1904


This Day in History: Western Roman Empire falls, Sep 04, 476 

Rome, Vatican Museum, Octagonal Courtyard, Apollo sculpture (2)

attila1Odoacer was a mercenary leader in the Roman imperial army when he launched his mutiny against the young emperor. At Piacenza, he defeated Roman General Orestes, the emperor’s powerful father, and then took Ravenna, the capital of the Western empire since 402. Although Roman rule continued in the East, the crowning of Odoacer marked the end of the original Roman Empire, which centered in Italy.

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