26 February 2009

The coincidence within a coincidence

I don't think it would be unusual at all to receive invitations to two different functions which are to be held on the same day, but it would probably be if there are three. It happens to me.

I've just got three wedding invitations from
  1. A neighbour from Keelung, the harbour town where I was born and raised, and lived until 1997;
  2. Ellen, one of the best friends I've ever made with during my doctoral study at the University of Stirling;
  3. Monica, a former colleague of May at CommonWealth Magazine, whom I came to know and befriend through MSN, and who is going to marry May's brother.
All of the three weddings will take place on the 14th of March.

My mum will take care of the one in Keelung and thus what really bothers me is to decide whether to go to Ellen's or to attend Monica's.

However, I suppose I will be able to look after both at the same time, because the two brides-to-be, Ellen and Monica, will be married in the same venue, Grande Luxe Banquet, though at two different halls. I may have to circulate back and forth between the two receptions.

It wouldn't be unusual to receive invitations to two weddings which are to be held on the same day, but it definitely is if the two will take place in the same venue. What a coincidence within a coincidence, isn't it?

21 February 2009

'Say Forever'

(From left, Sophia, May, me and Justin, image courtesy of May)

I once host a programme about the musics in the Far East on Subcity Radio in Scotland in 2006. Apart from a wide range of 'traditional' genres, I also played some pops, mostly J-pop, K-pop and Mandopop, and sometimes popular music from Thailand and Vietnam. Whenever I needed advice on J-pop and Mandopop, May was always the person I would speak to.

It was through May that I came to know some interesting pieces. 'True Colors' (yes, Cyndi Lauper's classic) covered by Hajime Chitose (元 ちとせ) in her EP A Thousand Nights And A Thousand Days (千の夜と千の昼 Sen no yoru to sen no hiru) is and example and one of my favourites.

Hailing from Amami Oshima (奄美大島), Hajime sings in a style with distinctive falsetto effects characteristic of that region, which can be easily observed in her interpretation of 'True Colors'. Click through and listen to this unique covered version by Hajime Chitose.

In return for May's contribution to my programme, I recommended to her good vocal works I encountered over the Internet from time to time as well. I especially remember a Mandarin piece called 'Say Forever' by the then GoGo & MeMe (哥哥妹妹), a pair of brother and sister now renamed JS (Justin+Sophia).

'Say Forever' is a soliloquy of a forlorn person who sings on a snowy street while thinking of her past love, imagining he is touched by the voice and she is hugged tightly in his arms. In her view, being alone would not make her lonely, but missing him would make her lonesome.

Perhaps because of the snow in lyrics, it became a ritual for us to listen to 'Say Forever' at Christmas, although we first heard this song in March 2006, obviously long before the festive season.

There are still ten months until Christmas, but I upload it to my new iPod Classic, which Fanne bought for me on a business trip to Australia when Australian Dollar hit five-year low, and play it repeatedly.

I was invited to a party hosted by MSN Taiwan to celebrate its tenth anniversary in Taiwan. What a pleasure it was to meet JS there in person. However, except 'Say Forever', I've never heard any other work of JS. I will check out more of their new works and attend their gig in April.

14 February 2009

Article published in Apple Daily

Chang Loo
(Apple Daily, 10 February 2009)

Urged by Allen, Fanne's brother-in-law, I submitted to Apple Daily (蘋果日報 Pingguo ribao) an article about Chang Loo (張露), a legendary Chinese singer who launched her singing career after making her recording debut for EMI (China) in 1941 and had been active in Hong Kong from 1952 when she resettled there until the mid 1970s. Chang passed away on the Chinese New Year's Day.

Chang Loo sang in a few languages, including Mandarin, English and Japanese, and had been capturing the fascination of the Chinese audience with her vivacious and versatile numbers for decades. She also covered many Japanese and English hits throughout her singing career in Hong Kong, among which was the classic 'Give Me A Kiss' (給我一個吻 Gei wo yige wen), adapted from Georgia Gibbs & The Yale Brothers' 1953 hit 'Seven Lonely Days'.

Had it not been for Allen, I wouldn't have written such an item for a newspaper. I suppose it would be vital for me to produce more academic papers rather than contribute articles to the press, since nowadays main measures of research performance are academic publications and citations, no matter whether the measurement is accurate and fair.

However, with respect to financial rewards and self-promotion, it might be worthwhile to spend a couple of hours in draughting a short article and have it published in a newspaper which circulates throughout the whole country.

Apple Daily, a national paper in the broadsheet format printed in Taiwan but owned by the Hong Kong-based Next Media Limited which publishes Apple Daily in Hong Kong, is usually perceived as a tabloid. Even though Apple Daily tends to be dominated by striking headlines, sensational stories and photographs, it gives commentaries on current issues and useful consumer information as well. It has the largest circulation, over 500,000 copies per day, among all newspapers in Taiwan.

It may not be as exciting as it was in 2005 when my first-ever research paper was published in Popular Music, a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to research on popular music, but it feels good.

For readers who do not read Chinese, please just listen to Chang Loo's 'Give Me A Kiss', and if you are interested, click through for the original English version of 'Seven Lonely Days' and make a comparison of the singing styles and instrumental arrangements.