June 5, 2005|There's perhaps no better illustration of the generation gap between Chinese persons who've grown up in the United States and their immigrant parents than sitting down at a table in the conference area of Denver's Hotel Monaco with Joan Chen, crowned the "Chinese Elizabeth Taylor" at the tender age of 14, and Alice Wu, the young former software engineer making her writing/directing debut with the lesbian ethnic sitcom Saving Face. Resplendent at 44, Ms. Chen has a deliberate way of speaking that's almost as intimidating as the fact that she never once met my eyes, while Ms. Wu, talking fast, using her hands, addressed me in a way forthright, almost aggressive. I felt admonished more than once by Ms. Chen as she talked about the creative arts as essentially selfish, and I felt challenged a time or two out of the blue by the irrepressible Ms. Wu, who chose to take adversarial positions on a few occasions where there wasn't any kind of natural polarity. Two different ways of approaching conversation, both instantly recognizable from my own experiences with a Chinese mother and father and the women with whom they would occasionally set me up before I did the near-unthinkable and married a white girl. Blonde, too. You could hear the screams back in Nanking--and Cape Cod, come to think of it.