Monthly Archives: May 2005

Recent Reads

I remember what Lin Yutang said about reading in his book “The Importance of Living”. He said something like this: reading, if not for anything else, adds flavour to one’s speech. I think this is quite true, but it also depends on what you read. Trash in, trash out.

Anyways, it is my habit now to read several books at one go, and therefore I always have a few unfinished books at any one time. The most recent book that I have finished reading is Jack Welch’s latest book, “Winning”. Reading books like this one often brings me down to my feet, back to my real world, when I sometimes float too far off into the realm of dreams. I mean, not to say that reading poetry and fiction is not real world, in fact, the world in poetry and literature can be more real than a Jack Welch book, but the straight-forward style, hands-on of books like this is very relevant to what I do for a living. I do not normally admire self-help books, but one other self-help book that really made a difference to my life is Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I can’t really say much about his recent “8th Habit” though.

Nowadays I find myself reading more movie related books. Still on my bedside table are these:

1. Brigitte Lin – Last Star of the East (just received this and I am enjoying it greatly)
2. The Big Picture – The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood. This book is a very good book detailing the rise of the major Hollywood studios, and how the movie business has transformed from its very first day.
3. Planet Hong Kong – Popular Cinema and The Art of Entertainment – about the movies and the movie business in Hong Kong. Reading this book helps me re-explore Hong Kong movies.
4. The Great Movies II – This is Roger Ebert’s second volume. As in the first volume which I also own, contained in this book are 100 very good essays on 100 Great Movies. Ebert actually publishes these essays on his website but these volumes are worth buying and keeping, so that we can read and reassure ourselves that great movies do exist although we are bombarded so regularly now by mindless, manufactured movies from you-know-where.
5. Nobody’s Perfect – This is an anthology of Anthony Lane’s writings published in The New Yorker. In his witfull ways, he talks about movies, books and personalities.
6. The Cinema of Tsui Hark – on loan from a well respected colleague. This book talks about Tsui Hark, his work and his influences and his place in Hong Kong cinema.

The last movie book I have finshed from cover to cover is The Movie Business Book. This book discusses topics covering all aspects of the movie business, from pre-production, budgeting, production, post-production, marketing and distribution.

I always keep with me by the bedside a couple of literary works which I enjoy reading. One of them is a series of short stories by Rabindranath Tagore and the other one is a selection of works by Lu Xun.

Well, about this Lu Xun book.

Lu Xun is a great personality and has made important contributions during the early days of the Chinese Republic. I visited his house while I was in Shanghai and was in the room where he died. I also went to his musuem, also in Shanghai and I thoroughly enjoyed knowing more about him.

Just last night, despite aching eyes but being a habit, I read one of his short stories entitled “In The Tavern”. In it, he narrated an incident whereby he returned to a place where he used to teach in hope to see that place and also to meet an old friend. In his usual style, this story narrates how the general population suffered from political mismanagement. What I would like to point out in this story of his is not his satire on politics but the story of the lives that the politics touched.

First, there is this old friend, Weifu, who used to be brilliant and full of ambition during his younger days but is now worn down and rejoice in small things and small accomplishments, and do not insist on things to change. In my life now, I see just so many people like that and this gave me the creeps. Am I going to be like them too? When I watched McDull Prince de la Bun, the scene where Mc. Dull’s father who is supposed to be a prince was worn down by society and gave up all hope of becoming a prince again, affected me so much I almost cried. Maybe I am at the stage in my life when I start to question and try to reconcile my dreams and my achievements.

The second character in the story is a girl by the name of Ashun. She is one of those lovely girls that you can find in Chinese literature, like Yun in the Six Chapters of a Floating Life. Ashun takes care of her family well, is understanding and is always nervous if food that she prepared is good enough. Ashun has dreams too, of wearing a coloured velvet flower but these dreams could not be fulfilled and she died prematurely. According to the story, she knew of her own illness but she hadn’t told her dad “for fear of worrying him”. Chinese girls like this can sometimes be so stupid in their innocence, they become so adorable and well-loved.

There is this passage in the story where Weifu commented on the nature of life, how one almost always end up where they begin. He observes:

“When I was young, I saw the way bees and flies stuck to one spot. If something frightened them they would buzz off, but after flying in a small circle they would come back to stop in the same place; and I thought this really rediculous as well as pathetic. Little did I think I’d be flying back myself too after only describing a small circle”.

Later in the story, when the author asked him about his future plans, he said:

“Future plans? I don’t know. Just think: Has any single thing turned out as we hoped of all we planned in the past? I’m not sure of anything now, not even of what tomorrow will bring, not even of the next minute…..”

Bleak sounding, but a small grain of truth did resonate through such words.

Anyway, the story inspired in me a craving to sit in a quiet place, with a view of the lake, with a pleasant weather with cool winds and birds chirping happily, and have warm wine and fried tofu served with chilly sauce and a good book at hand, or an interesting partner to talk to.

Left picture is Lu Xun’s house in Shanghai where he died. Right picture is the Lu Xun museum.

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Fun Stuffs

Chanced upon this and found it funny….

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Trip back to Ipoh

It was sort of a last minute decision to go back to Ipoh to visit my parents and also Kit’s aunties. The reasons are mainly because my dad’s birthday is near, plus Father’s day too, and because Kit has to work in the next few weekends, we decided to go back and wish my dad happy birthday. We also had to deliver some Ogawa massagers to Kit’s aunties, so we are actually killing several birds with one stone.

Ipoh is really a pleasant “city”. The fact that I put the word city in quotation is because I do not really believe Ipoh is a city. It’s really like a big town to me. And what a big town this is! Although it is a rather quiet town and can become quite boring after about one week there, it is really a great place to live once you get past that boredom and found your routine.

For one, the food there is quite good. Next, the traffic is smooth and everything is so near each other. Third, the scenery can be quite nice, and the air quite fresh. And of course, for me, it’s where I grew up and naturally, I had lots of great memories everywhere I go.

Food: I can roughly prepare an itenerary of where to eat when you are in Ipoh. Map to follow once I have them scanned.

Breakfast: you can have dim sum at a few places that is really quite nice. I usually have dim sum at Yoke Fook Mun in Greentown. A lot of people also visit Foh Sun in the town centre but that place can be quite packed.

Lunch: the usual place to go is to old town to have the famous chicken hor fun (kuay teow). The hor fun is very smooth and the broth is simply superb. Besides the chicken hor fun, the kangkung sotong, chee cheong fun, custard and fresh orange juice is also superb.

Tea time: surely the Ipoh white coffee located at old town! This place is not very far away from the hor fun place just now (I will get a map up). The name of the place is Sun Lin Long, a corner shop just at the junction where the 15 storey flat is. You must try the white coffee and the toast. The toasts is so good, so crispy, it almosts melts when you put them in your mouth.

Dinner: surely the Ipoh taugeh chicken. The famous one is Uncle Wong, a corner shop. This place is near the town centre, very nearby the Ipoh police station. The chicken is smooth, the taugeh just superb. You usually eat with hor fun, which again is also very smooth and tasty.

Supper: choice of Woolley located in Ipoh Garden (you can also have dinner there. The curry mee and crab is very good) or if you like “luk-luk” you can eat in the stall in Ipoh Garden as well. The gravy for the luk-luk is superb. I remember going there all the time with friends after giving tuition classes.

That’s about it for a one day eating trip. Oh ya, opposite of Woolley, you will see this one shop selling ice-cream. The name of the shop is Sidewalk. It has been there since my secondary school times and I remember having so much fun there. Meeting girls and dating there. I remember those time, when we were not very rich, the order for a whole watermelon complete with an assortment of ice-cream inside, is a luxury!

As Hemmingway wrote about Paris, in A Moveable Feast, where he spent some time, “But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy”. Whenever I go back to Ipoh and think of all these olden days memories, I will think of this Hemmingway phrase and my heart will feel warmer, and the world is a better place.

Before I leave for today and attend the quarterly Management Committee meeting which can be a really gruelsome event for me, let me quote you this beautiful passage from A Moveable Feast:

“With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the tress and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.”

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26th World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC)

The 26th WAGC held in Nagoya Japan has just ended. This year the representative from Malaysia is Mr. Teng Boon Ping aged 29. Boon Ping is the 2005 Malaysian Champion, which earned him the right to represent Malaysia.

His results in this championship is really good, 23rd place out of 65 players. This is a Malaysian record. The champion is China, followed by North Korea then Taiwan (called Chinese Taipei). The South Korea representative only managed to finish 4th, and he is already a 1dan professional in Korea. This speaks a lot of the quality of the players.

This is Boon Ping’s first time at the WAGC despite him being one of the strongest Malaysian player around. There is a bit of legend surrounding Boon Ping.

He started to play weiqi at a young age and was quickly recognised to be talented. His family was very supportive and he was placed in the training of our senior player, Mr. Lee Choon Huat and represented Malaysia in the world youth championship where talented children played. One of the children who took part in the same tournament was Chang Hao, a top professional player in China now who also recently won the Ing cup which comes with a USD400,000 cash prize.

According to legend, during the youth tournament, a Taiwanese professional saw Boon Ping’s talent and wanted to take him as a student to be trained as a professional player. However, the chance was missed since his family thought he is better off with a regular job. He is now an engineer.

If he did follow the professional player route, then Malaysia would have its first professional player, which is really cool.

A very good report of the WAGC can be found here


Boon Ping (left in the picture, blue shirt) in action in the Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand Tournament held in Singapore in December 2004.

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The Last Star of The East: Brigitte Lin

I have finally received the book!! “The Last Star of The East: Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia and Her Films” by Akiko Tetsuya.

A friend of mine who is really geeky about Hong Kong movies (e.g. her pop quiz questions would sound something like this: Who were the nominees for best actress in the Hong Kong film awards in 1992?) recommended this book to me. I wrote to the author for a copy of the book (apparently she was about to burn all the books for the lack of Lin Ching Hsia fans), Akiko and finally after 2 weeks, it’s here!

The author took a lot of trouble to get this book published, a 8-year Herculean effort.

The friend I spoke about just now wrote a rather lengthy review on the book (she was a movie reviewer by the way and reviews for this site). In her views, “For one thing, Akiko’s book has given me a greater appreciation of Brigitte’s entire body of work as a whole as well as individual films of hers. So much so that …. reading the book has got me wanting to revisit lots of Brigitte movies”.

A whole discussion thread was dedicated to this book in the well respected Mobius Asian Cinema Forum.

I look forward to reading this book over the weekend. Wooo hooo……….

By the way, if you love Hong Kong movies and don’t know about this
site, check it out now: LoveHKFilm.com

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Tournament Jap-Mal

A weiqi tournament was organised by the Japanese in the Japan Club Kuala Lumpur last Sunday, 22 May 2005.

At first I thought it will be a Japanese vs. Malaysian tournament but it turned out to be an individual event. 13 players came on that day and were divided into two groups.

Group A:

Ishikura sensei
Tsuda-san
An elderly Japanese man (i do not have his name)
Lao Chuang
Mr. Tiong
Billy
Alex

Group B:
Arai-san
Suzuki-san
Shen Joon
Eric
Chin
Me

Before the tournament started, each player had to fork out RM30. This will be accumulated and distributed to the winners, with 10% of the total amount contributed to the Japanese as the fee for board and stones and facilities. They plan to have this tournament every quarter, the next one being on the 21 August 2005.

All of these sounded fine except for the RM30 initial fee. First of all, I am not being stingy and I am willing to contribute whatever sums of money but the fact that these money was distributed later to the winners made me feel uncomfortable because it felt a bit like gambling. Initially I thought the money will be grouped for a nice lunch together and then the extra money to buy some trophies but it turned out that the Japanese had their own lunch while we Malaysians had our own lunch. Suzuki-san however, was great. His wife made a box of really nice sushi for everybody. I am not sure how many Malaysian actually ate the sushi and comlimented Suzuki-san and his wife for their generosity and for the great tasting sushi but when we returned from lunch, I noticed there were still many sushis left in the box. That felt quite sad.

Another point was that for students, forking out RM30 can be a big deal and in this spirit that resembles a bit of gambling, it felt really not right. If I ever get to win, I will probably refund the money to these students, or contribute them to the weiqi association as Eric had suggested.

I mean, if someone were to sponsor the cash money and then the winner gets the money, then it is different.

Anyways, barring that, the event was great and the fact that we are going to have this tournament every quarter will make the Malaysian weiqi scene more interesting, and hopefully my weiqi strength will increase with this.

For more photos, please click [HERE]

Thanks to Kit Liew, our official photographer for that day for these beautiful pictures.

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729

testing to post from my treo 650. this should work and make my blogging experience more interesting. I can blog wherever I want, even in the toilet literally if I want to….. well, the brain works best when u r lying comfortably on the bed or when u r in the toilet……

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