Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Four Books

Quiet time by the harbour in Hong Kong

I was recently among the people tagged by A Changing Life's a. for this meme. I found her blog entry on this subject to make for interesting reading and can but hope that mine will prove to be the same to at least some of this blog's visitors.

Four childhood books

Like many others who was born and spent the better part of her childhood in a British Commonwealth country, I read tons of Enid Blyton. However, for added interest (and since I've already previously blogged about them), am going to refrain from naming any books by her or the two other favorite female authors from my younger days. Which makes things a bit difficult, seeing as that eliminates so many works! Additionally, these days, I find myself once again residing in a different part of the world from the bulk of my personal library. Still, here goes:-

  • Winnie-the-Pooh - A. A. Milne. The edition I got in London came complete with original illustrations by E. H. Shepherd, and I'm going to take this opportunity to state how much I prefer those original depictions of Pooh and Piglet to their Disneyfied versions.
  • A Child's Garden of Verses - Robert Louis Stevenson. Funnily enough, I never ever managed to get into Stevenson's more well known Treasure Island and Kidnapped but I adored this poetry collection, with particular favorites among them including the one about Leerie the Lamplighter (even if also belatedly realizing how ethnocentric some of the others in the collection were!)
  • Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss. When I read the English translation of this classic book, I was bemused to find that there are some Malay words in it!
  • King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian - Marguerite Henry. My favorite of the many horse books I read during my "horse" phase that also included the same author's Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Mary O'Hara's My Friend Flicka and, of course, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. :)
Four authors I will read again and again

I'm going to take this category to mean authors who I've got more than one book of (rather than just authors of books I read again and again). Again, have made things more difficult for myself -- but, hopefully, more interesting for regular visitors -- in that rather than repeat
what I've previously written on this blog, I'm going to go for some more 'new' (at least for this blog) names here...

  • Sara Paretsky. The latest crime fiction novelist whose books I've become hooked to.
  • E. M. Forster. And for the record, my two favourites of his books are Howard's End and Maurice. Incidentally, very much dislike the film adaptation of the former but am fine with the latter.
  • Ulf Hannerz. One of the sadly too rare contemporary socio-cultural anthropologists whose theories and observations make sense, and can write well.
  • E. L. Braithwaite. I have to admit that I've only ever read and know about two books by him (i.e., To Sir With Love and Paid Servant) but believe you me when I say that I'd like to get my hands on more books by him!
Four authors I will never read again

Figuring that I might as well go for the big rather than obscure names here...

  • Jane Austen. I know she has many fans but I tried to read Northanger Abbey and then Sense and Sensibility and couldn't make it through more than a few pages of either! And this from someone who's been to Bath and even visited Winchester Cathedral, where she lies buried.
  • Jostein Gaardner. Sophie's World started off alright but at some point, I'm afraid that it all got too complex and 'meta' for me.
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I get the feeling that a lot of the quality got lost in translation and since I doubt that I'll be picking up the Russian language any time soon...
  • Homi K. Bhabha. Not so long ago, I was obliged to read more than my fair share of post-structuralist, meta-critical theory tomes. Am I glad that those days are now gone! (And for those who don't know what I'm talking about, here's a real example of Bhabha's babblings: If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to “normalize” formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.)
The first four books on my to-be-read list

I'm going to take this category to refer to books I already bought copies of but have not yet gotten to reading...

  • Becoming Madame Mao - Anchee Min. I got much out of reading her Empress Orchid and am looking forward to see her imaginative take on another notorious historical Chinese personality.
  • Last Princess of Manchuria - Lilian Lee. I've viewed several film adaptations of this author's works, including Rouge, Green Snake, Temptation of a Monk, Dumplings and Kawashima Yoshiko: Last Princess of Manchuria. It'll be interesting to see whether I like her prose as much as many of those movies.
  • Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the Men and Women of Hong Kong's Sex Industry - Yeeshan Yang. I viewed Whispers and Moans the movie earlier this year and still would rank it among my top five Hong Kong films of 2007. It'll be interesting to see how much the Herman Yau helmed work did in fact take from this non-fiction book.
  • Fire Sale - Sara Paretsky. Like I wrote above, I've become hooked to this crime novel series that centers on Chicago private investigator V.I. Warshawsky.
The four books I would take to a desert island

Three of these books I love and read many times; one of these I've yet to finish but like enough of what I've seen thus far -- and since I figure I ought to bring something to a desert island that's new to me along with old favorites...

  • Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel - Elinore Smith Bowen (since revealed to be the nom de plume of Laura Bohannan). The book that I made sure all my "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" students read whenever I taught that course (which, I will still maintain, actually can have practical relevance and utility in this increasingly interconnected world of ours).
  • The Last Star of the East: Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia and Her Films - Akiko Tetsuya. Yes, well... and it's not just to gaze at the pictures of my favorite actress of all time (aka The Great One) either! ;)
  • The Importance of Living - Lin Yutang. At the very least, a book with a great title! ;b
The last lines of one of my favourite books.

This is the city
with a history


This is Hong Kong --
my city

of poetry.

Agnes Lam
20 April 2003
Hong Kong in spite of SARS (severe acute respiratory


-- From Michael Ingham's Hong Kong: A Cultural and Literary History.

As for tagging: I'd like to see the following four's take on the Four Books meme:-

...but only if they are inclined to go for it. Really. :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pink (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

After a two week absence, here's returning to Photo Hunting with a vengeance. Or, at least, with an entry whose three bonus photos make for a four-in-one treat! Also, I must admit that I was initially tempted to make this a Hello Kitty-themed entry; this not least since pink is the color that a lot of people most associate with the internationally renowned cute cat (even though she herself is actually white in color).

Instead, after mulling the matter some more, I've decided to put up some photos that show parts of the other HK that's close to my heart instead. For while moving about Hong Kong this past week, I got to noticing that there does appear to be quite a bit of pink around, including on the walls of various buildings but also the helpful bilingual sign posts that have been erected by the authorities to point people towards various places of interest within the territory.

All in all, even though pink actually isn't one of my favorite colors, I think this is a good thing. This is because -- and I trust that you'll agree after viewing the photos -- the inclusion of some pink into the landscape ensures that the more built-up -- and, in some cases, low rent in the bargain-- sections of 'Asia's World City' won't look as dull, gray and bleak as they otherwise would and could do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tai Tam Country Park Hike Photo-essay #2

As I just wrote in response to a comment by regular blog visitor Willow over
here, I've been on another couple of hikes recently -- and yes, before you ask, they also yielded copious amounts of nice photos, a few selections of which I do intend to put up on this blog to share with its valued visitors. Before doing so though, here's presenting a second set of eight photos from the half-day hiking trip I went on back at the beginning of this month; one which feels like it took place so long ago now -- so all the more reason to remind myself via this photo-essay of how wonderful it (and much of the scenery on view over the course of it) truly was... :)

Similar but not the same:
Close to where I left off the last time around

Another sample picture of
Hong Kong Island's green rolling hills
(and a reminder that this hike took in
hilly as well as beautiful country!)

View of one part of
the Tai Tam reservoir system
from another, lower-level portion of it

One more view of part of
the Tai Tam reservoir system
and the nearby green hills

Lest there be any doubt
as to where we were... ;b

Can you see some of the 1000 plus steps
leading straight up
one of that formidable pair of hills
known -- no thanks to Gillian and Charlene! -- as
The Twins over in the background of this photo?

For the record:
I elected
not to climb up The Twins
and, instead, contented myself with scaling
smaller hills like the one pictured above... ;)

After our (hot weather) exertions,
water like this looked really inviting...
but my hiking companions and I managed to content ourselves
with drinking in views of what really is
a beautiful as well as important reservoir system :b

Back online and blogging once more! :)

I'm baaaaaaaack! After a couple of weeks of blogging inactivity, here's going ahead and updating this blog with a bc magazine update -- one which I had been working on last Thursday evening prior to my internet connection deciding to temporarily give up the ghost (and not getting resurrected until this Monday).

But before I proceed to point out which bits of the magazine I wrote plus provide links to them, here's explaining away the
Mr. Vampire association by letting people know -- if they didn't already -- that bc is a bi-weekly magazine and that this latest issue covers the period from October 18th to (you guessed it!) Halloween...

And now without further ado:-

i) The cover article on Hong Kong cinema's Hopping Vampires, Battling Taoist Priests and Ghosts in Love;

ii) Fading in on Fado -- a feature article on Portuguese fado diva Cristina Branco;

iii) A Lovers' Diary for the 2008 HK Arts Festival -- looking ahead to a seriously mega performing arts fest whose advance tickets sale have already begun!;

iv) Musical of Musicals -- a feature article on this year's Musical Moments charity concert (Thursday update: link fixed!);

v) Brothers -- review of the 2007 cinematic reunion of four TVB Tigers (Miu Kiu Wai, Andy Lau, Felix Wong and Ken Tong);

vi) Hero -- review of the 2007 Japanese legal dramedy starring Takuya Kimura;

vii) Mein Fuhrer -- review of the first German comedy about Adolf Hitler in over 50 years;

viii) Editor's Diary -- more appropriately named now that I've been appointed as deputy editor of the magazine... ;S ;

ix) Live Music -- including a "Five Favourites" interview with jazz pianist-vocalist Eriko Ishihara; and

x) Backside (I wonder whether people can figure out which part of this back section of the magazine I wrote...! ;b).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hong Kong hike #4 (Photo-essay)

At the beginning of the week, I went with two friends on what was only
my fourth hike since moving to Hong Kong this past May (due in large part to rain -- and we're talking monsoon rain here! -- having led to the cancellation or postponement of more than one planned hike). Although the three other hikes have been enjoyable enough, have to say that this past Monday's was the best by far thus far; and really has whetted my appetite for more Hong Kong hiking. Now if only I can regularly possess sufficient time and energy to do so...

To wit: Today sees me being more inclined to take it easy in order to recharge my batteries. But hey, should I ever be in danger of losing my inclination to go out into the wilds of Hong Kong every once in a while, the following sample photos will serve to remind me of the kind of views, scenery and related attractions that I'd be missing if that were to happen... ;)

Proof positive that we indeed are in Hong Kong,
and that early on in this hike,
we really weren't
that far away from
the fabled Hong Kong of high rises! :)

And, yeah, it does take some
(at times quite gruelling step) work
to get away into the wilds of Hong Kong... ;S

But then, before too long, you're pretty much
completely into the greenery! :)

One possible reason why Violet Hill
(whose highest point stands at 436 meters --
and we ascended as part of our hike) is so named

...and another! ;b

One of those outstanding panoramic views
of the Tai Tam Reservoirs that made
all that (step) climbing feel oh so worthwhile :)

Another scenic view --
this time, one that partly looks out to sea
as well as gives a good idea of what
some parts of our hiking trail look like

To get some idea of how far we hiked:
Look at photo #6 in this photo-essay
and then realize that this is a more close-up shot
of one of the Tai Tam Reservoirs! ;o

And yes, rest assured there most definitely are more photos in this series to come...! :)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Curvy (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

This past Monday, I went on a wonderful hike on Hong Kong Island that took me from Wong Nan Chung Gap up to Violet Hill before ending at the edge of the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir and provided me with terrific scenic views (two photographic examples of which can be found here). For the most part, what caught my eye during the hike were natural rather than man-made.

However, as we came to a part of the trail that presented a view of Repulse Bay and its surroundings, my attention was taken by a building that had me having a major "Eureka!" moment with regards to having found the perfect subject matter for this week's Photo Hunt. After all, it's not every day that one sees a building that's curvy in the way that the most foregrounded structure in the above photographs is, don't you think? ;b

Some additional notes about the photos: Firstly, they're taken from various elevations and I included the second one in this entry because I think it gives a better idea of how beautiful the seaview from Repulse Bay is. Secondly, one reason I kept clicking away at the same subject was that it was really windy up there on the high ground that I was hiking on and I feared that my hands were shaking so much that I wouldn't get good shots of what I was aiming to take. But after seeing the result, have to say that I'm pretty happy with both of them -- as I am with a lot of other photos I took on the hike and plan to put up on this blog to share before too long... :)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy birthday, Yip Wing-sie! :)

Towards the end of the HK Sinfonietta's Birthday Rhapsody concert earlier this evening, the orchestra's Conductor and Music Director, Yip Wing-sie, told the audience that like many of us, she doesn't like working on her birthday and joked that when she found out that she had to work on October 5, her birthday, this year, she said that she would only do so if the orchestra got to include a birthday-related piece in the programme.

Well, she got her wish -- and the HK Sinfonietta's spirited rendition of composer Peter Heidrich's fun Happy Birthday Variations turned out to be one of the highlights of the musical evening. At the same time, what really made the concert for me was a performance of Sergei Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43, with the nimble-fingered Cristina Ortiz on the piano. In particular, that portion of the piece that this movie buff first got acquainted with by way of Somewhere in Time sounded truly sublime when heard being played live by the concert's musicians.

So here's taking the opportunity to express my gratitude on this blog to them for their music making and -- even though she'll probably never come across it over here in this modest section of cyberspace -- extend happy birthday greetings to Ms. Yip! :)

Starlight Memories and much much more!

Found on a wall of the Che Kung Temple:
Remember what I wrote a while back about dragons
being seemingly everywhere in Hong Kong
? ;)

Last Saturday, I posted a Photo Hunt entry that came complete with a teaser and promise that a link would get posted to an article about the original individual behind what some people starkly labelled as "a mess" but I'd also describe as a treasure trove of old movie star photos and assorted materials.

What with there being some problems at work this week, I've had to delay putting up that link and others... but now, all shall be revealed and without further ado, I'd like to point loyal and/or curious visitors to this blog to this
cover article on Mr. Hung Chiu Chung (AKA the legendary North Point Photo Shop Man). :)

In addition, I'm going to take to this opportunity to suggest that this early October issue may well be the most YTSL-writing filled issue of bc magazine ever. (And that, frankly, is saying a lot since there have been past issues where I've contributed quite a bit as well.) More precisely, the following articles and sections also were written by moi:-

i) Beautiful Warrior Lanling -- based on an interview with Willy Tsao, founder and Artistic Director of the City Contemporary Dance Company, and a master choreographer who has been labelled the father of modern dance in China;

ii) The Zen of Ken -- based on an interview with filmmaker Kenneth Bi (who I trust will not mind my pointing out to interested readers that he happens to have the great Ivy Ling Po and Chin Han as his parents);

iii) Aida's Triumphant Return -- based on an interview with Warren Mok, internationally renowned tenor and founder cum Artistic Director of Opera Hong Kong;

iv) Traditions and Modernity -- a preview of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra's 30th Anniversary concert;

v) A review of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution;

vi) A review of Oxide Pang's The Detective;

vii) A review of Kenneth Bi's The Drummer;

viii) A review of the Wong Jing produced Beauty and the 7 Beasts;

ix) The Editor's Diary -- think of it as this writer's choice of events to check out in Hong Kong over the next fortnight.

And -- yes, I realize this is starting to sound ridiculous but... -- I wrote all the Live Music section's blurbs too! Furthermore, if you were to check the Backside (the magazine's final contents page), don't be surprised if you notice something there that bears some resemblance to this entry's photograph of choice... So, yes, should you wonder, yours took photos for as well as truly penned this issue's Stopwatch entry -- and the Findery's too! ;o

Monday, October 1, 2007

Beautiful -- and blue-green -- Hong Kong!

Scenic view of
Tai Tam Reservoirs
and the surrounding green areas

Yes, this really is Hong Kong Island!

A picture -- as the proverbial 'they' assert -- says a thousand words. And we've got two in this entry. So am not going to write much more beyond the following:-

1) Yes, I did go hiking earlier today;

2) Yes, the air was (relatively) unpolluted and the sky was blue;

3) Yes, as the pictures help to attest, it truly was wonderful out there this afternoon; and

4) Yes, this really is Hong Kong! :)))))