Monday, May 21, 2007


One thing I worry about seeing American Idol contestants is that they may screw up the standards, and many did. On these two of my favorite standards, Katharine McPhee, however, nailed them. Going back to these clips, my gut feelings were once again triumphant.

"Someone to Watch Over Me"

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Now, "Rainbow" has become her anthem, as she's heading toward superstardom.

Now let's hope her record deal doesn't screw her over, like they did Reuben, Clay and Fantasia.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Congratulations to all Blues Awards winners...

...especially to my good friends Tab Benoit, Mookie Brill, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on the grand prizes.

Tab Benoit - Blues Entertainer of the Year (The highest honor at the Blues Awards. Previous recipients included B.B. King and Buddy Guy) & Comtemporary Male Blues Artist of the Year

Mookie Brill - Second year getting the award for Best Bassist!

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - This must be Willie's 15th year getting this award! He's the best shuffle drummer I've ever seen. Anyway, I need to find a good shuffle drummer in HK.

Other notable winners this year:
Instrumentalist-Guitar: Hubert Sumlin
Comeback Album of the Year: Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing
Acoustic Artist of the Year: David "Honeyboy" Edwards

For a complete list of winners, click here.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ode to McDull

Towards the end of "My Life as McDull," an inevitable message emerges: "the more expectations in life, the more disappointments." In a nutshell, life is about how to cope with disappointments in a masterful way. It all depends on your mindset. McDull's philosophy is entirely educational and positive for kids. Adults will find it easy to follow, too. This is a cartoon by and for Hong Kong people, and we're proud of McDull.

McDull is ingenious in many ways. First, he is an everyday character, not so bright, but full of hope. McDull is in a way the Hong Kong's version of Peanuts by Charles Schulz (see my previous entry on Schulz.) It also enshrines the principle that Mister Rogers teaches us about how everyone is unique in her own way.

Second, the movie fuses Hong Kong's landmark spots with familiar Classical music by Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, etc. The "East meets West" theme is evident. Also, Brian Tse's witty and appropriate Cantonese lyrics for these classic pieces are nothing short of brilliant. Case in point, <<麥兜與雞>> is an autobiographical introduction of McDull and his fascination with chicken and Chinese-styled BBQ duck. Check this out:

My return to Hong Kong has a similar spirit to McDull's noble intentions. I hope to bring back what I've learned from the western culture and fuse it with the traditional street-smart Hong Kong culture. I owe a special sentimental knot to Hong Kong, a place where I grew up and had countless fond memories. This is a place to which I truly belong. At the same time, there are many things that can be greatly improved here, if a different perspective is being introduced.

Therefore, it's my life's mission to blend the western and eastern culture to Hong Kong via music, art, culture, politics, law, and humanity. The one common thing that unites Hong Kong people together is the reminder that we single-handed built the society we lived in. Our ancestors worked hard, and we will continue to work hard. That is the spirit of Hong Kong, the spirit of McDull. Not matter how many disappointments we face, there's always hope ahead of us.

In closing, check out the following unique views on the McDull trilogy:
Footnote 1: 燒臘口味的香港情懷
Footnote 2: McDull: A Christian Perspective
Footnote 3: The University of McDull
Footnote 4: All lyrics to the McDull soundtrack

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

What message does the CUSP incident send us?

I know it's exam season, but I feel I should give me two cents to the continuing CUSP 《中大學生報》 saga. Ironically, if this incident happened in the UK or the US, it would not merit any attention, let alone the half-baked media discussion these days. The reason why this topic has become the "talk of the town" is precisely because it's happening in Hong Kong, a so-called "modern" metropolitan that is wrapped in social conservatism and backwardness.

This incident can be analyzed from a few angles. While I'm not endorsing the way the CUSP editorial board framed some of the questions in the "sex survey," I do not think many of the critics actually read the March issue in question. I hereby excerpt the original online version of the questionnaire, and I urge you to determine whether these questions appeal to the prurient interests of the average reader, or in fact attempt to increase of awareness of the lack of meaningful sexual dialogue on campus.

The line is somehow blurred with the arguable suggestions of incest and bestiality; yet several factors tend to support that the newspaper did not have ill intentions to begin with. First, the font of the survey is small (as it is in the printed version) and the words are extremely condensed. Photos are few and far between (other than the two almost black and white pictures of dull objects shown). If the newspaper intended this discussion to be outrageous, it would have at least made the fonts larger and included photos of naked women or men.

Second, only 4 out of the 14 questions raised in the survey are borderline "pornographic" or "obscene." At best, an argument can be made to say these questions are "distasteful." In fact, I wholeheartedly dispute the choice of words and the manner in which these questions are asked, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with asking them, especially from an academic perspective.

When Alfred Kinsey conducted his research on human sexual behavior, he raised even more outrageous questions to his target audience. And he was funded by the Rockfeller Institute on his scholastic and scientific study of sexuality, giving rise to the two influential bestsellers Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953. (Note: these books were published almost 60 years ago. Let me remind you we live in the year 2007!)

I was appalled by the media's reaction to the CUSP incident, as some of the mainstream newspapers made this a public outcry, some 2 months after the survey's first publication in March 2007. According to many of the CU students, when the March issue first came out, virtually no one paid attention to the page in question. Accordingly, the CU administration did not take any action then (simply because it did not know about it).

A week after the public outcry in May 2007, the CU administration decided to take action, albeit a much delayed and unnecessary one, to ban the CUSP from further publication and threaten to sanction the 12 editorial staff of the newspaper (including possible expel from CU). Frankly, I was even more appalled by CU's actions, as they amount to trample on the freedom of speech and academic freedom of CU.

Eric Hoffer once said, "The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people." Bill Beattie proclaimed, "The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men."

What the CU administration did was just the opposite - it stifled opinion rather than accepted it. The college campus is the ideal place to encourage intellectual discourse and free flow of information. The university should have the generosity to embrace rebellious thoughts and groundbreaking ideas. Unfortunately, the CU administration chose the cowardly way out, i.e. to exert parental pressure over the defenseless students and threaten to expel them just before the final examination period. If there were any "disgrace" to CU's reputation, it by all means came from CU's handling of the situation.

Incidentally, the method CU employed is exactly a mirror image of the SAR Administration since 1997. It all looked uncannily familiar. Above all, the CUSP incident is a wake-up call to Hong Kong people. Its impact is twofold. First, it reminds us that as a people, we are backward and old-fashioned and still afraid to talk about sex openly. Second, the government's prosecution of dissenting opinion in the society has descended to the academic environment. If we let this happen, students will soon be afraid to voice their opinions, and that will be an end to the freedom of education.

So what kind of world do we want our children to live in? A place where we can freely discuss our thoughts or one that resembles the old East Germany? Should we ban books like Camus' Caligula and all Victoria literature that contains incestuous themes? Or should we openly admit that incest is a societal problem that must be dealt with positively?

If CUSP did one thing wrong this time, it was the editors' lack of taste in phrasing the questions. Thus, in addition to literature, humanity studies and other scholarly pursuits, all Hong Kong Universities should start the curriculum of "The Art of Precision," (精緻文化) a term invented and made popular by the late Taiwanese media tycoon 張繼高. The Art of Precision focuses on the art of living with exquisite taste and style. It ranges from how to listen to Beethoven Symphony No. 9 to how to sip wine in an elegant manner. Most of all, it emphasizes that a good sense of humor can put an end to all superfluous human conflicts. If the editors of CUSP took a course in that subject, I could guarantee that this debacle would never have occurred.

If any of the institutions needed a lecturer in "The Art of Precision," I would gladly donate my time and expertise.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Congratulations to Roger!

2007 ACM Singing/Dancing/Composition Contest
Solo Singing Competition
Champion: Roger Chung (鍾一諾)
Song in Contest: "Only Blessings"

Congratulations! We grew up with classic ACM songs and compositions. It has special meaning that Roger actually won this award. ACM is the oldest Christian Music Ministry in Hong Kong. The song he chose was actually from 1983, the year he was born.

So this is a blessing indeed. Photos are here.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

I just realized I was featured in SCMP!!

How come nobody told me about this?

April 15 Sunday Post



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