Thursday, 29 August 2013

A lesson I learnt from a squirrel

A little grey squirrel decided to approach the glass patio door earlier today. I was sitting on the other side, watching the squirrel as it scurried around. I could see every strand of hair that made up the fur on the squirrel's body, how fine the lines on its toes were, and how yellow its front teeth were.

The squirrel was so cute that I wanted to take a photo of it. Taking care not to make any noise, or to cause too many vibrations, I gingerly stood up and tiptoed away to find my camera. But by the time I tiptoed back, the bushy-tailed one was gone. I'd missed my chance.

If ever I felt like I'd missed a chance to capture a perfect moment and freeze it in time, that was it. I think I will have my camera beside me more often in case the squirrel decides to come back and say hi. Happy Thursday!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Satire, humour, racism

I've seen instances of racism against the Chinese this week, and it ain't pretty. I am proud of my Chinese roots, and frankly, I get quite cross when any aspect of my heritage is used to make grotesque images that are used to generate laughter directed against people who look like me.

Or am I? Here's a clip from a comedy series called Father Ted

I find it hilarious. You will, too.


Anyone who wants to write a comedy about racism (this clip shows that this is neither an oxymoron nor a paradox) should study every frame of the episode of Father Ted this clip came from.

This is genius, pure comedy gold.  It shows the absurdly funny caricatures that racists use to mock the Chinese while making it clear that not all white people are racists. Though this clip only lasts for 1 minute and 16 seconds, it highlights particular actions that make all the white and Chinese people I know laugh (now that's what I call universality!).

@codyinvegas was right when he said that you should never point out a pimple on someone's face; they already know it's there.

Since all publicity is good publicity, I won't describe who did what, and where, and when. I will not give you racists publicity, because you don't deserve it. Though you offended me this week, thank you for reminding me that satirical comedy once existed, and that I was privileged to have watched it.

I miss Father Ted. Why don't they make shows like that anymore? RIP Dermot Morgan.





Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My tuppence on...

In the UK, the saying 'a penny for your thoughts' is sometimes answered by 'here's my twopence worth', and though no-one's offered me a penny for anything, I thought I'd write my thoughts on things down with the tag 'My tuppence on...' just for the sake of blogging.

To start off, here's my tuppence on, erm, the topic of 'blogging'. I think it's easier to blog every few weeks than every day. It's hard to pick topics, and I like typing with a keyboard and not a tablet or a phone. 

But the thing is, once I get the words out, I actually feel that little warm glow inside that comes with having finished something I set out to do. I wanted to update my blog, and I've done it. Nothing can stop me except myself. It's the same with all writing, I suppose. That shoe company was on to something when they proclaimed, 'Just Do It!' So if you're stuck, take a breather, then get back to what it was you were doing. Just finish it. The correcting, the editing and the weeping over poor word choices can come later. Remember, just finish it.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Meteors

I spent nearly every night of last week thinking about meteors. They were on the news; apparently, a group of them were making their yearly appearance in the night sky, and this year, conditions were clear enough for them to be visible.

Telling myself that I ought to catch them, I made a note in my diary to stay up late on Monday. It didn't work out. It was the same for Tuesday, and Wednesday. And then on Thursday, I finally managed to wake up at what used to be called an ungodly hour of the morning, only to find out from an equally insomniac friend that I'd missed the show. It rained on Friday, so I couldn't see anything.

What did I learn from all this? That I can't stay up late anymore, even with an alarm blaring at me. Oh well.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Happy Qixi Festival! 七夕节愉快!


Today is the seventh day of the seventh moon of the Chinese lunar calendar. The evening of this day, 七夕, means ‘seventh evening’. There are many other names for this day, many ways to celebrate it, and many stories behind it, but the most famous story is ‘The Cowherd and The Weaver’, which is shown in the picture above (from www.zhymw.com.cn).

The Cowherd 牛郎 was a mortal human boy who, as his name suggests, herded bovines for a living. The Weaver 织女 was one of the daughters of The Emperor and Empress of Heaven. This being Chinese Heaven, The Weaver had to work for a living, too. Her job was to weave coloured clouds in the sky.  But she didn’t mind, because she was brilliant at it.

One day, The Weaver and her sisters went to bathe in a pool on Earth, and they flew there from Heaven after wearing feather dresses that turned them into birds.

The Cowherd turned Peeping Tom. Being a typical bloke of the times (this story is ancient), he watched the Heavenly Princesses as they bathed, and stole one of the feather dresses. All the Princesses grabbed their dresses and flew away, except for The Weaver, who couldn’t escape because The Cowherd had her dress. She and The Cowherd fell in love, married, and had children.

I was then told two versions of What Happened Next. In Version One, the Empress of Heaven wasn’t pleased that her new son-in-law was a cowherd, a mortal and a human. In Version Two, The Empress of  Heaven approved of her new son-in-law, but got upset that her daughter spent too much time on her husband and children. Either way, The Weaver wasn’t weaving anymore, and as a result of this, the Empress sent Heavenly Soldiers to take The Weaver back to Heaven.

The Cowherd happened to have an old water buffalo who knew how to get to Heaven (in Chinese myths, old animals are smarter than humans), and who, after taking The Cowherd and his children on his back, ran after the Heavenly Soldiers. But the Empress of Heaven was prepared; she took off a hairpin from her own hair, and drew it across the sky. A river was formed, and as the current was too strong for the old water buffalo to cross, the poor Cowherd and Weaver were left stranded on opposite sides. 

The Cowherd refused to leave, and he and his children sat on the riverbank, while The Weaver gazed at them from the other side. When the Empress of Heaven saw this, she melted slightly, and allowed The Cowherd and The Weaver to meet just once a year. She ordered a flock of magpies to form themselves into a bridge every seventh evening of the seventh moon, and told The Weaver, The Cowherd and their two children to meet on the bridge of magpies for a night.

The family is literally a family of stars. The river that separates them, 天河(’The Heavenly River’), is known as ‘The Milky Way’ in English. The Weaver is known as ‘Vega’, while The Cowherd and his children are known as ‘Alpha, Beta and Gamma Aquilae’.

This story was mentioned in ‘The Karate Kid’ starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, and nowadays, Qixi is known in English as ‘The Chinese Valentine’s Day’. I’m not too sure about that, but hey, the story of The Cowherd and The Weaver does involve a pair of star-crossed lovers, so in way, it is the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

To all the lovers out there, if your Valentine's Day sucked, here's a chance to make up for it, and if you had a great Valentine's Day, here's another one for you to enjoy! Have fun ;-)

Monday, 12 August 2013

Three Diamonds in the Rough

Ah, Twitter! Through it, I found three diamonds in the rough: Emily Bibb, Chris Jay, and their film, Porcelain Presence.

The trailer for Porcelain Presence looks like one for a horror film at first glance (if you are easily scared, I suggest viewing it during daylight hours), but if you stick on, you'll see that what you'll get is an intriguing psychological study into relationships.

The passion and vision Emily and Chris have for films and filmmaking are evident in the trailer for Porcelain PresenceWhat's even more amazing is that Emily (scriptwriter and producer) and Chris (producer and cinematographer) are genuine independent filmmakers who funded the creation of Porcelain Presence and its trailer by all themselves. The Bibb-Jay partnership is a phenomenon in the making, and Emily and Chris have my utmost respect for being an inspiration and for making their dreams a reality.

To support them, please like the Porcelain Presence Facebook Page (again, if you are easily scared, please view this during daylight hours), and do also check out the links to their sites, and to the trailer, in the 'In the Movies' and 'Music, Videos and Podcasts' sections of my blog. Enjoy!


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Crazy Rich Asians

If there's one book that'll blow any preconceptions away, it'll be


by Kevin Kwan. But be warned: before reading this, you must suspend your disbelief as you hurl yourself into this speedy glimpse into an ultra-luxurious world where 'Beyond 5-Star' hotels exist. I've only read the first three chapters but already feel that it comes across as being more authentic and more current than other contemporaneous English-language novels or media that depict China, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Chinese people. And it's funny, too!

Now, given what happened with Avatar: The Last Airbender and Cloud Atlas, how will Hollywood deal with the cast and setting of any film based on this book?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

My Geek IQ Score

Youtube has been emailing to tell me about Geek Week, and after some resistance, I finally did one of their 'Geek IQ Tests'. To be honest, I was expecting questions along the lines of  'what is the size of the angle between the carbon and hydrogen atoms in a molecule of water' but instead, I got things like a photo of a cosplayer, and being asked to identify who he or she was. 

I always thought that 'geeks' were people who were obsessed with science and technology, while people who were obsessed with other things were known as 'hobbyists'. I'm glad to stand corrected, and to know that the net of geekiness is wider than I thought.

Based on Youtube's quiz, I have a Geek IQ Score of 149 out of 300 points, which makes me a geek in training. I thought it would be fun to try some more quizzes, so I did. 

My subsequent answers relied on a lot of guesswork, and I couldn't help but snigger as my score shot up to 230 points out of 300. That meant I was officially a Youtube Geek, so I stopped at the third quiz before I did myself any more damage. 

It was all a bit of fun while it lasted, and I'm glad to know that I still remember That Guy's Cat :-). Happy Caturday!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pic Ask's Little Helper

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a cute website called 'Picask.net' which intrigued me.

The premise of the site was simple: if you'd ever come across a creature of some sort and wondered what it was called, all you had to do was click on a link and upload a photo, and someone would respond.

The site also contained a fun quiz which seriously tested my knowledge of the animals, plants and organisms around me. I did well enough to answer the site's call for volunteers.

I was accepted as a volunteer! As of today, I'll be adding 'Pic Ask's Little Helper' to my list of stuff about me.

Pic Ask is still being developed, but don't worry, the team are accepting photos! And if you'd like to give them a hand, pop over and let them know.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Ooh, some more reviews for 'The Fox and It'!

'The Fox and It' has two Amazon reviews [I love my puns, sorry!]! 

Thank you, Dibeen and Kristin, for your kind words!


From Dibeen, 31 Jul 2013, on Amazon.co.uk, 5 stars

'Loved this short, playful and punchy story. I'll be reading it to many of the little people in my family as a valuable lesson in "Mum knows best"!'

From Kristin, 28 Jul 2013, on Amazon.ca, 5 stars
'This is an awesome tale about the (mis)adventures of a little fox. I love the themes of the importance of listening and being kind to the environment. The rhyming story and the adorable, colorful pictures make it perfect for my little girl who is almost one year old.'

Buy 'The Fox and It' here:
Amazon India (http://goo.gl/7U4t7a)
Amazon Japan (http://goo.gl/rAbDKN)
Amazon Germany (http://goo.gl/474uuS)
Amazon Canada (http://goo.gl/4YZyIw)
Amazon Spain (http://goo.gl/S2zpqK)
Amazon Italy (http://goo.gl/nrxftO)
Amazon Brazil (http://goo.gl/BGYTO8)
Amazon France (http://goo.gl/qYTPoe)
Payhip (http://goo.gl/wkvlT)