Posts

Showing posts from August, 2018

Win-Win Situation

Image
Came back home on Thursday to find on the table, an assortment of traditional cakes, fried noodles, fried rice, curry chicken and other meat-based and non-meat based dishes, even moon cakes. Why, it was por tor. Suppose I 've heard of the word, por tor since a child but never come to really understanding it. Googled the words and was surprised to find that it is celebrated in Phuket, Thailand on a grand scale and is just the merit-making Chinese Hungry Ghost festival when offerings are made not just for one's ancestors but also for stray ghosts who have no relatives. This year, the festival fell on 25 August 2018, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month but it has seemed to me for as long as I remember, that the festival is a month long affair filled not just with prayers but also entertainment. In some places with large Chinese population  like Penang and where the local authorities allow, Chinese opera and puppet show may be staged to entertain the departed but for a long time n…

Amazing Teresa

Image
In East Europe, most probably in Austria, my friends and I were once serenaded with songs just as we were having red wine after a hearty dinner. There was a song from Julie Andrews's Sound of Music and then, just when we least expected it, the familiar tune of 月亮代表我的心  The Moon Represents My Heart filled the room. It was the late Teresa Teng Li-yun's 鄧麗筠signature song and delighted, almost everyone in our table burst out singing with the music. Teresa must have gone for many years now; she passed away in1995 at age 42 in Chiengmai, Thailand; but her memory remains. In Japan, she reportedly was brought back to perform in a variety show using 5 D technology. In 2013, it was with Jay Chou   周杰伦  whom her 3D virtual hologram shared the stage. Amazing, isn't it?

Chinese Roots

Image
Not being familiar with the leads, I wasn't taken up by Crazy Rich Asians when I first saw the gaudy poster for the movie in a theatre in Taiping. Then, I saw the trailer and the glowing reviews in the Net and decided to catch it in a theatre while in Kuala Lumpur. It was a great movie all right, funny and warm, with great actors and Chinese evergreen songs throughout, not to mention bewitching scenes of Singapore. Part of the Asian casts are either Korean, Japanese or Filipino; the mostly Chinese casts come from different parts of the world.  Shot mainly in Singapore,  there are of course Chinese from the island, most notably Tan Kheng Hua and Pierre Png of Phua Chu Kang' s fame. Ronny Chieng and ex- bond girl, Michelle Yeoh are both from neighbouring Malaysia; Gemma Chan from Britain and Chris Pang from Australia. While the female lead, Constance Wu is an American born Chinese, other Americans like Jimmy O. Yang has roots in Hong Kong  and 91-year-old Lisa Lu, a younger vers…

Of Minions and Chinese

Image
Minions are yellow mostly, I come to believe; and there are so many of them too! They do indeed remind me of Chinese who are spread all over the world and as you know, the latter are also deemed yellow by I don't know which smart aleck. There are very fair Chinese like American Chinese actress Chrystal Liu Yi Fei 刘亦菲 as well as dark Chinese like Hong Kong's  Simon Yam Tat-wah 任達華 but they are neither considered white nor black. I remember in an old Hong Kong movie,  Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 80s star, Cherie Chung Chor-hung 鍾楚紅;  wondered why the non-Chinese unlike the Chinese, are either born  too dark like they are overbaked  or too fair like undercooked; which probably give the impression that the  Chinese have just the right skin colour. Quite a racist remark, don't you think?
Chrystal Liu Yi Fei 刘亦菲

Simon Yam Tat-wah 任達華

Cherie Chung Chor-hung 鍾楚紅

Choosing a Groom for a Ghost Bride

Image
What a fine time to watch Singapore's 2014 movie starring Hong Kong actress, Sandra Ng and Singapore's own homegrown comedian, Mark Lee. Though billed a comedy,  A Fantastic Ghost Wedding is also, as the title suggests, a ghost story and it's on in TV and during the Chinese Ghost month too! Ghost weddings reportedly are practised by non-Chinese, by people in Sudan and France and elsewhere, even in America as in a Levirate or a posthumous marriage. The Chinese version started thousands of years ago, 3000 according to some literature; not as long as Chinese history definitely, but very long enough to lend colours to the civilization. Originally, it was strictly for the dead, two single deceased people; but now, it can involve one living person and a deceased. Reportedly, even in modern Singapore, one can get the service of a Taoist priest to be a matchmaker and help arrange a ghost marriage. If the service of  either a priest or a diviner is not sought, a family can find a p…

Bin Bing Story

Image
After watching the megalodon shark creating havoc in the the Pacific Ocean in Jason Statham's latest flick, The Meg, I  suddenly realize  there are many Bing Bings in the Chinese entertainment industry. First, there is China's Fan Bingbing  范冰冰 who appeared in the 2014  Hollywood superhero blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past and then there is Taiwan's  Bai Bing-Bing 白冰冰, who iwhile may be unknown to the western world, is nevertheless a big name in the Chinese entertainment scene. Now, of course, there is The Meg's Li Bing Bing 李冰冰 who had in2008 already been introduced to international audience via Chinese-American fantasy kung fu wuxia film, The Forbidden Kingdom and later, via Resident Evil: Retribution and Transformers: Age of Extinction in 2012 and  2014 respectively. Then of course, there is the former child star from 1983 Taiwan's popular TV series, Heaven knows my heart 星星知我心,  Xiao Bin Bin which is another bin story altogether.

Fan Bing Bing  范冰冰 

Bai Bing…

Picture on the Wall

Image
Sedan chairs used to be a common way of transport in ancient China. There were sedan chairs for flat lands and sedan chairs to go up mountains, sedan chairs made of bamboo or wood and sedan chairs for civilians, officials and weddings called mín jiào 民轿, guān jiào 官轿and hūn jiào 婚轿. In a little town near Simpang Empat, Penang, I chanced upon this cute picture on a wall. Now, is this mín jiào 民轿, guān jiào 官轿 or hūn jiào 婚轿? No prize for guessing!

A Chinese Puppet show

Image
There was a scene in Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music which I like, featuring puppets and a catchy song sung by Julie Andrew, The Lonely Goatherd. It's not the yodeling but the puppets that I like. The Chinese puppet theaters offer similar marionettes on strings besides three other forms - rod puppets, shadow plays, and hand manipulated glove-type puppets. I suppose come this year's festival of the hungry ghosts, a puppet show will come to town - the hand manipulated glove-type puppets.