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Showing posts from September, 2009

Famous Malaysians

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When Malaysia was celebrating her Merdeka or Independence Day on August 31, MSN Entertainment features eight Malaysians said to be world famous. Five of the eight were Chinese. Top on the list were James Bond Girl, Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng and the man who made shoes for Princess Diana, Dato' Jimmy Choo. I was not surprised to find Nicholas Teo in the list since after singing Huáng Hūn and winning the top prize in the 2002 Astro Talent Quest, he went on to make Taiwanese dramas, Smiling Pasta (2006) and Invincible Shan Bao Mei (2008) and making himself a name in Taiwan and in South East Asian countries. Model Amber Chia was the talk of the town when she appeared in the Indonesian version of Playboy; so, perhaps, that's why she was on the list but another model, Ling Tan, was a surprise entry. Haven't heard of her until now but this girl who was discovered in a small fashion show went to New York and was snapped up by IMG which incidentally is one of the most influential mod…

Rewriting History

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One Saturday, when I was at the Chinese Recreation Club (CRC) in Taiping, I happened to catch part of Shaw's old costume drama in TV, The Last Woman of Shang. A group of old men were sitting on a sofa and the TV was on. I chose to sit down beside a dozing plump man. Shang, by the way, refers to China's first great dynasty. The Bronze Age civilization and Chinese writing first emerged during this period in China and it is no wonder then that Shang became the first Chinese Dynasty that leave a historical record. I suppose then, that's why we have this story about Da Ji, which in the movie, was played by the legendary Lin Dai. Da Ji was a favorite concubine of Emperor Xin, the last king of Shang Dynasty. Historically, she was known for her beauty and cruelty that brought ruin to a dynasty and is often portrayed as an evil fox spirit in literature, such as in the famed Chinese novel Fengshen Yanyi. In the movie though, Da Ji was depicted as a nicer woman just out to revenge he…

A Tea Drinking Ceremony

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Most probably it's The Karate Kid, the martial art hit film starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue; but I saw that film in the 80s and that seems so long ago that I could be mistaken; perhaps it 's just another Hollywood movie that romanticized the ritualized Japanese tea drinking ceremony. I remember though that it surprised me tremendously to find tea drinking ceremony being associated with the Japanese. After all, it was the Chinese who introduced tea to the world and the truth is that there is a tea drinking ceremony in several aspects of a Chinese life. In Hong Kong triad movies for example, one may see scenes of people pouring tea to make apologies to triad bosses; indeed that's in Chinese culture that people pour tea for the people they have wronged and whom they are seeking apologies but when talking about tea drinking ceremony, I have always thought that it is the one practised in traditional Chinese marriageceremony. Just the other day, I watched a…

The Number Game

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Numerology isn't part of Mathematics but this belief that there is a relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things is popular even with great mathematicians like Pythagoras. As for the Chinese, I wouldn't be surprised if someone thinks that everyone of them is into it. It is common to see Chinese from all walks of life shunning the number4. Number 4 phonetically sounds very much like death in the Chinese language and is thus a taboo while number like 8 which sounds similar to prosperity is auspicious. However, when combined with certain numbers, 4 would be rendered lucky such as in the number, 814 and 148, both of which means be wealthy the entire life. 99 is also a good number. It means eternal and it is not surprising then that many Chinese in Malaysia clambered to get hitched on 9 September 2009. That was despite the fact that in the Chinese Lunar Calender, it was still the month of the Hungry Ghost. Traditionally, Chinese would avoid holding auspicious…

Sex For Sale

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How things had changed! In old Chinese novels, and movies,you may come across a sad character, a very good girl from a very poor family who has no choice but to sell herself off to some wealthy family in order that she could get some money to buy a coffin and perform funeral rites for a dead parent and when we say, sell here, it means, the poor girl now belongs to the wealthy family and most probably has to work hard like any other servants but for long hours and without pay all her life. In Singapore recently, there was a 19-year-old polytechnic student who went online to sell herself in order to raise money for her terminally ill mother’s medical treatment. The girl had uploaded three semi-naked pictures of herself in a lacy black G-string on her blog and was looking forward to providing sexual services to a man in his 30s who is willing to pay for her mother's medical fees. A man in his 30s probably would not be rich enough but well, he would be a fine cherry to chomp on. That …

A Chinese Halloween

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Yesterday, my niece proudly showed me a paper box she had made. Beautiful isn't it, she asked? The box was for a mooncake. Oh, boy. The mooncake festival is not quite right here yet, but already, she is planning on making mooncakes. Right now, it is more of the Hungry Ghost Festival.The Ghost Festival ( zhōngyuánjié) is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar, the Ghost Festival is on the 14th night of the seventh lunar month. The fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month is the Ghost Month. Ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm around this time and this makes it sound rather spooky like Halloween, doesn't it? Only difference is people don't celebrate by dressing up macabrely. Instead, prayers and rituals are performed for the restless spirits. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic …