Meet the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team’s “ShibSibs”

My brother and I are big fans of two individuals named Alex and Maia Shibutani. They’re Japanese American, exactly three years apart (ages 22 and 19, respectively) and they’re siblings. In all three instances, the Shibutanis and my brother and I are the same. The big difference between us? My brother and I are not figure skaters competing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The Michigan-based siblings have just finished their first Olympic experience by placing in the top 10 for ice dancing, despite a wardrobe malfunction during their Michael Jackson medley routine in which Maia’s tights caught onto Alex’s costume during a difficult lift.

But the brother-sister team couldn’t be happier. “Everything went the way it should,” said Alex in an interview with the Greenwich-Post. “We’ve been taking everything in since we’ve gotten here so to finally have our Olympic moment it totally blew our expectations.”

Ice skating isn’t the only thing they’re good at. Alex and Maia, also known as the “ShibSibs” on their personal YouTube account, are also funny, light-hearted social media personas. Their YouTube account, which since its founding in 2012 has already gained 9,000 subscribers and over 1 million views, is compiled of silly vlogs and bloopers captured amidst the seriousness of their training.

“[Alex] is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” said Tara Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic champion and NBC Olympic figure skating commentator. “He has a [really] dry sense of humor.”

The duo has promised to upload more behind-the-scenes at Sochi vlogs when they return to the states to begin training for their last competition of the season at the World Championships in Saitama, Japan.

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CHINEASY: New Book Makes Learning Chinese Easy

Taipei-born entrepreneur, investor and author ShaoLan Hsueh has written a language book called Chineasy to simplify learning basic Chinese words and phrases.

The book, which will be released next month, aims to help people read Chinese easily by recognizing specific characters through illustrations. After taking a sabbatical from capital investment in London, Hsueh began teaching her British-born children how to read and write in Chinese and realized how difficult it was for them. She created a visual method to help them understand, and has since adopted it into a social project.

“Call me optimistic, but I see the melding of these two cultures, East and West, as being instrumental in creating a more culturally literate world,” Hsueh wrote on her website, describing her goal for the creation of Chineasy. “I also think that the East and West must understand each other in order for global economic growth to be a sustainable future.”

Learning Chinese through Chineasy starts on a building block principle: learning the basic key characters allows the reader to begin combining them to form more complex words. Incorporating the illustrations does more than just serve as a visual kind of mnemonic device –– it allows the reader to become familiar with Chinese culture and art.

Chineasy is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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McDonald’s Opens First Restaurant in Vietnam

Fast food corporate king McDonald’s, which has locations in over 100 countries so far, opened its first Vietnam restaurant in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday.

Hundreds of locals gathered outside the velvet ropes Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to await the grand opening of the American fast-food restaurant. Free balloons, face-painting, live performances and picture-taking with Ronald McDonald himself were some of the events held to commemorate the opening.

The Vietnam McDonald’s carries all the menu items as its other restaurants, save for one special item exclusive to the country: the McPork sandwich.

Free markets have viewed Vietnam has one of the last Asian countries with potential for consumerism following the end of the Vietnam war in 1975 and a steadily growing middle class.

McDonald’s follows other American corporations like KFC, which opened in Vietnam in 1997 and Baskin-Robbins, which opened in 2012. Starbucks opened its first three stores in Vietnam last year.

Alexander Wang Uses Heat Technology to Wow Audiences at New York Fashion Week 2014

New York Fashion Week kicked off last week as designers and big brand names held runway shows for their fall/winter 2014 collections. While New York City’s Lincoln Center is considered the central location for designer shows, this year Alexander Wang opted for an off-site location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

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On Saturday night, the 30 year-old Taiwanese-American fashion designer dragged his fashion crowd from the inner city out to an abandoned greenhouse on the water in Brooklyn. Fans, editors, photographers and celebrities braved hours in traffic to get to the remote site.

Wang debuted his collection with models sporting slick, parted do’s and utilitarian looks. Show-goers took to their blogs and Twitters, noting the show’s most exciting moment when a group of models stood in all-black clothing onstage, only to have the clothing magically turn into bright and vivid colors as a result of heat technology.

Sculpted dresses and coats, baggy trousers and backless boots added to the futuristic line.

Watch a first look of the show here:

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Maggie Q to Star in New Series About a Famous Chinese Pirate

Maggie Q, the Vietnamese-American actress known for her role alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III and her leading role in the CW action series Nikita, is confirmed to star in a historical miniseries titled Red Flag.

Set in 1800’s China, Red Flag follows the true story of the famous Ching Shih, a Chinese prostitute who eventually became one of history’s most powerful pirates. Ching gained control of the South China Sea with her crew of 100,000 sailors and over 1500 vessels, and went on to conquer the Imperial Chinese, Portuguese and British navy vessels during her reign of the seas. Ching is reported as having led the most successful crime syndicate in Chinese history.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to share Ching Shih’s real-life story with audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with her prominent history,” Maggie Q said on the latest project, which has yet to be picked up by a television network.

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Be sure to check out Maggie Q’s amazing cover story in our Winter 2012-13 issue. 
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Red Hong Yi’s Chinese Makeup Art

No, we’re not talking about Michelle Phan-esque YouTube tutorials. Malaysian artist-architect Hong Yi, who also goes by her nickname “Red,” has been referred to as the artist who “loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush.”

Yi, who owns her own design studio and travels for work in between Shanghai and Malaysia, is known for using unique mediums for her work. She has made portraits out of flower petals, sunflower seeds, candle wax, bamboo sticks and coffee cup stains. She’s even painted an entire portrait using a basketball as a brush.

The artist claims that she was inspired to use everyday objects for her artwork after moving to Shanghai to work. She argues that some of the most overlooked items can create the best pieces of art.

In honor of Chinese New Year, Yi has made one of her most creative projects yet. Using only make up, Yi has managed to recreated scenes from Chinese myths and create cultural and traditional symbols of the country such as opera masks, firecrackers, cherry blossom trees and goldfish.

The artist explains, “Chinese art requires a lot of precision and skill – one stroke can make a huge difference I felt that this is similar to how a woman carefully puts on her make-up.”

Check out her impressive artwork below and be sure to look into her other works here.

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Coca-Cola’s Multilingual SuperBowl Ad Produces Racist Criticism

I know what you’re all thinking right now: Not again. Not another instance of Americans showing their true –– and ignorant –– colors over social media for everyone to see. But yes, just as with the number of people who expressed their anger over the crowning of our first Indian American Miss America, Nina Davuluri, with tweets calling her a “terrorist,” so have SuperBowl viewers flocked to Twitter and Facebook to defend everything they believe to be “American.”

During the NFL SuperBowl, Coca-Cola aired a one-minute advertisement titled “It’s Beautiful,” which featured people of different cultures engaged in activities like dancing and watching movies, while “America the Beautiful” was sung in seven different languages. Coca-Cola posted a link to its Twitter with the caption “The only thing more beautiful than this country are the people who live here.”

Many people have praised the commercial for highlighting America’s diversity, but countless others have criticized it for not patriotic enough, because “in America, we speak English.”

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Miss Kansas had a few things to say herself.

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Watch the originally-aired SuperBowl commercial below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8iM73E6JP8

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Asians in Fashion: Kiko Mizuhara for AMBUSH’s Lookbook

Korean-American model, actress and singer Kiko Mizuhara modeled heavy jewelry in fashion design label AMBUSH’s lookbook, “Nu Order,” which they released on their website earlier this week.

The Tokyo-based design collective, Ambush Design, was founded back in 2002 by Korean rapper-MC Verbal and his graphic artist wife, Yoon. They started their second line, AMBUSH, in 2008, in an experiment in making jewelry with different kinds of metals, stones and plastics. Fans include Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Kid Cudi, among others.

The digital lookbook features Kiko and another model in clunky metal pieces, including chains, cuffs and bangles.

Creative direction: AMBUSH®
Stylist: Anna Trevelyan
Photographer: Kevin Amato
Model: Kiko Mizuhara, Anthony
Hair : Tony Kelly
Make up: Michael Anthony
Nail: Naomi Yasuda

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Bruno Mars Dedicates His Grammy To His Late Mother

 

Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, who is of Filipino descent, won best pop vocal album for “Unorthodox Jukebox” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night.

Mars, 28, was nominated for three more Grammys, including record of the year and song of the year for his hit song “Locked Out of Heaven” and best pop solo performance for “When I Was Your Man.” This is the second Grammy win for Mars, who won best male pop vocal performance for “Just the Way You Are” in 2011.

The most memorable part of Bruno’s acceptance speech? His heartfelt dedication to his mother.

“Ma, I know you’re watching,” Mars said in his acceptance speech, dedicating his win to his mother, who died unexpectedly back in June 2013. “I hope you’re smiling. I love you very much.”

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“It’s been five months and we’re still grieving — we’re still dealing with it and time hasn’t really healed much,” said Bruno’s sister Tiara in a November 2013 interview with ET. “We all have each other, which makes it easier,” Tahiti added.

Bruno’s four sisters, otherwise known as the singing group The Lylas, began documenting their rise to stardom in a new non-scripted series that premiered on WEtv in early November, simply titled The Lylas. In the midst of taping, the tragedy of their mother’s death occurred and the show focused on the girls dealing with their loss. After having initial concerns with a reality show, the girls found comfort in watching the footage of their mother.

“We’re so grateful to have documented our last few special moments with our mother,” says Jaime in an interview with Audrey Magazine, “that all of [the concerns of doing a reality show] are out the window.”

 

 

Asians in Fashion: Ming Xi for Zac Posen’s Pre-Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Chinese fashion model Xi Meng Yao, more commonly known as Ming Xi, was featured in a series of breathtaking shots for fashion designer Zac Posen’s Pre-Fall-Winter 2014 lookbook in French Vogue. 

The lookbook, shot in both color and black-and-white, offers 26 dramatic photos of Ming in sweeping gowns and sharp silhouettes. Posen, known for his sophisticated style and penchant for deep and metallic hues, doesn’t let his fans down with this pre-collection. Ming poses in a variety of navy blue, gray and (of course) black dresses.

“I had no preconceptions about this career, I tend to just go with the flow,” Ming has said in an interview with CNN on her success in the fashion world. The model has walked in shows for countless high fashion brands, including Christian Dior, Alexander Wang and Givenchy. “I never really gave [being a professional model] too much thought before. That said, I absolutely love what I’m doing now.”

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