Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing up

It is a custom for Westerners to dress up for parties during various festivals.  Some go to great lengths to come up with something special. Sometimes the themes extend to the exotic. This might mean cowboys and Indian themes, African or the Orient. The latter is a common source of inspiration for the British Christmas pantomimes. 

Whilst I firmly believe in the freedom of speech and expression. I do feel that these Oriental themes are rather patronising to Asians. I also feel that they distorts the true nature of Asian cultures. Moreover, they reinforce the Asian stereotypes. I mean how many people of South Asian origin, apart from the Sikhs, who wear turbans on a regular basis.  But the media sometimes gives you the impression that might be the case. But in reality, South Asian and Middle Eastern life is not like something out of Aladdin.

Students at Ohio University have launched a campaign as part of an effort to prevent cultures from being translated into stereotypical costumes. These posters represent some of the offensive costumes and the cultures they affect.    

Then there are the Madam Butterfly stereotype that blight Japanese women. Chinese men are thought of as having Dr Fu Manchu moustaches. That or the Bruce Lee stereotypes. Try as you may but in reality you won't see people that would fit into these silly stereotypes. 

I don't think that many Westerners might have thought about the impact of this sort of perception. We Asians are born into the colour and the cultures that we're in. We don't see the trivialisation of our cultures as something people can do for fun. We're people with feelings. After the parties have finished and the lights have gone out, we're still who we are.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Be inspired by Iceland's natural beauty

Iceland is a very beautiful country with much to offer.  But it is not for the faint hearted.

Cherish every minute

Earlier this year renowned kung fu legend, 56-year-old Gordon Liu (劉家輝), suffered a stroke. Gordon Liu, the star of The 36 Chambers of Shaolin is now disabled and is dependent on a wheelchair. This is such sad news. Liu is such a great guy who has such presence on and off the screen. He has over the decades attracted a global fan base. Life can never be the same following a stroke. As a martial artist, this would not be easy for somebody like Liu. Liu is known to have followed a healthy lifestyle. Like his brothers in the Lau family, have taken the traditional kung fu lifestyle to heart. Regular training protects you from many things, but who would know when something like a stroke would come. It is very sad, but we ought to learn from this. We ought to cherish every living minute. The enemy comes from within. Even after decades of training and spiritual cultivation, who can say they are indestructible? Martial artists too are only human.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Chinese Domestic Goddess

I often see in the Blightly how popular Ching-He Huang (黃瀞億) is.  She sells herself as the Chinese Nigella Lawson.  I have to hand it to her, she has come a long way and is doing quite well.  Not many non-Western celebrity chefs make it in Blightly.  Ken Hom is an authority on and by far the most famous face of Chinese food in Blighty.  But there's a problem, he's a bit dull and doesn't really promote Chinese well.  He is no Martin Yan (甄文達), who can deliver technique, wit and charm at the same time.  It is rather sad that Martin Yan never made it big in Blighty.

Ching-He Huang first came on the small screen in a minor role during the early 2000's.  Here was a fresh pretty face, in a business where female cooks are usually older and not usually considered sex symbol material.  Nigella was different, but she was older.  However, the early days were a disaster.  There was no technique, it was a desperate effort to cook something and sell a face.  Ching-He Huang had no knowledge or technique at all.  It was all about mixing ready made sauces together.  Which, if you're Chinese and you knew about food, would make you cringe.  She even wrote cook books, which surprisingly, sold.  Over time, she has improved and had moved to better slots on TV.  I could only imaging that she had done some research in her spare time. Watching her on TV, I get the feeling that she doesn't really know what's she's doing.  Some of the things that she's trying to do is well out of her depth.  Her views and opinions on the Chinese catering trade is somewhat unsavoury.  I certainly wouldn't class what she cooks as Chinese, but fusion.  But she sells, not because her cooking skills are awesome, but because she is pretty.  I see she now has her own range of kitchenware.  If only her cooking skills were up there with her marketing skills.   The Chinese Nigella she is not!  But she's got guts for trying, for that I give her some credit.

On Youtube there is Nana Chan, with her wokwithnana series. Nana is better known with the online community as Nanamoose, the lawyer turned blogger and food writer.  Watching her, I get the feeling that she knows what she's doing.  Though not a chef by profession, she is actually very good.  The camera is pretty close up and you the audience gets a clear idea as to what is happening.  The show is free on Youtube and it is well worth following.  There is no silly fusion, half-wit recipes here.  It's all real and it is all things that you could try at home.  Nana knows and appreciates good food, it's her passion and she seems like somebody with real substance.  One thing I do find odd, is how somebody who has spent some time in Blighty has such a strong American accent.  Nana Chan get's my vote!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't throw CDs away

I'm pretty law abiding and I do respect copyright of artists. If people can't get paid rewarded for what they do well, then why should they bother. I don't have a problem with paying for what I want to enjoy. Then it comes to region restricted DVDs. I have never liked the idea. I can understand the studios wanting to protect against piracy and illegal copying. However, what about consumer choice? I follow certain Chinese, Korean and Japanese genres. However, the movies I like might never come to Blighty. If they do, they're going to be out years after they were released in the Far East. Then comes the fact that I want the original non-censured or extended version. Why should I settle for second best? For this reason I don't find unlocking DVD players to be a problem. After all you've paid for your DVD. But you don't get region restricted music CDs. Recently I thought about purchasing more music via the likes of iTunes. After all, if it is just one of two tracks I like, why buy the whole CD. Then comes the reality, the lack of choice and the fact that they don't come in Chinese characters. They come in pinyin that looks neither Cantonese or Mandarin. It is odd, I mean are there many people who buy Cantopop or Mandopop on iTunes in the UK? But they're there. Somebody must buy it. The other gripe is that online venders like iTunes are region restricted. So great, I can't buy from iTunes back home. So the CD still rules. I can still rip for personal use. 

 To date, I've not brought much from iTunes.