Archive for September, 2009

Stephen Chow Sketches (2): I was quite a trouble-maker at school

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 by Mei

When checking site traffic recently, I found that the “Stephen Chow Sketches” translation is the second most viewed post on this site (even though the overall traffic isn’t much yet). Since there are a few more chapters translated already, we might as well post them here for people to see. This is no classic literature, of course, just a special interested article for Stephen Chow fans. As the old Stephen Chow Forum closed last year, I’m going to move the translation gradually to this site.

Chapter 1: My grassroots origin
Chapter 2: I was quite a trouble-maker at school

Hong Kong’s Entertainment Weekly magazine once published several movie stars’ school transcripts. Carol Dodo Cheng, Jacky Cheung, and Karen Mok were all “A” students, but Stephen Chow was anything but.

Rocking Beethoven

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 by xgz

Which musician is more famous than the Beatles today, and even Adidas named a shoe after him? Surprise, it’s Lang Lang, the classical pianist from China. Lang Lang is a rare classical musician who has a rock star celebrity recognition around the world.

We went to Nashville this weekend to see Lang Lang play Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 with the Nashville Symphony. The concert was completely sold out. There were a lot of children at the concert. Perhaps as much as ten percent of the audience were children. Even among adults, the average age was also significantly younger than a typical audience for a classical music concert.

Sing to me, about your new policies

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 by Mei

Many Chinese kids of my generation grew up singing very upbeat songs about the good life we had, how great our leaders were, and how bright our futures would be. They were all laden with “positive” messages. Of course there was an occasional song or two just on the joy of a field trip in the park, without the requisite reminder on how it was made possible only by the blood our forefathers shed on our behalf. As kids we absorbed them all, oblivious of the wise distinctions usually made by older people. The songs were music and laughter, and they made me happy.

Thinking back on some of those songs, I realized that the lyrics were laughably unsubtle. One song (with a particularly beautiful melody) compared “Our Party” to a mother. Another sang about how “the sun is the reddest, and Chairman Mao the dearest”.

Such lyrics gradually faded out in the 1980s. There are still songs and movies that are considered “mainstream melody (主旋律)”, but most of them carry less obvious messages. So I was a bit surprised to find a song with the very unsubtle name A Mountain Folk Song about The Brief (山歌一曲唱纲要) while searching for performances by Abao, a popular folk singer in China. The lyrics and melody follow a pattern typical of west China folk songs, reminiscent of the songs I grew up with. Yet somehow, this new song lacks the emotional power of the old propaganda songs. It feels strangely like a corporate marketing piece. (more…)