Friday, December 28, 2012

Jay Chou's 12th Album: OPUS 12 十二新作

The next Jay Chou merchandise to be added to my collection is his 12th album entitled “Opus 12” which was supposed to be released on December 28, 2012 on but the release date has recently been postponed to January 4, 2013. Since I’m a devoted fan, the wait is totally worth it! A very nice thing Jay is going to do for his fans is to release all of his 12 new songs on the radio before the official release of the album so that everyone can be able to listen to them first. I have already listened to all 12 samples of the songs and I have to say that I’m quite impressed with album. Every single song in the album suits my tastes just perfectly. I’m also glad that Jay have persisted with including at least one zhong guo feng (Chinese style) song in each of his albums. The first zhong guo feng which has already been released on the radio a few weeks ago is called “红尘客栈”or “Red Dust Inn“ which will be included in this upcoming album. In the music video, I really like his intensive use of Chinese instruments, such as the erhu, combined with R&B and a bit of other Western elements because it makes the song sound really beautiful. He just knows how to mix the music well with different instruments. That’s because he’s Jay Chou. Here is the official music video of “Red Dust Inn”. The MV is really sad like most of his other zhong guo feng MVs, but nevertheless, it’s really touching and worth the watch!

Another zhong guo feng song which will also be included in his upcoming album is called "公公偏头痛" or
“Enunch With A Headache” which is a hip hop song combined with Chinese instruments. The MV was officially released a few days ago with a lot of positive feedback from fans. Notice that the zombies in the MV are supposed to belong to the Qing Dynasty and not the time period shown in the MV but Jay did that on purpose to make it more fun and creative. The storyline is very humorous and may be difficult to understand at first look but after watching the MV a couple more times, I believe that you will start to get the gist of it. The story actually talks about a corrupted enunch in the palace who pretends to be good and honest whenever the emperor is around but the truth is that he steals and lies behind the emperor’s back.
       Another special fact to know is that Jay actually choreographed some of the dance such as the shoulder up and down part.


The first ballad song Jay released is called “明明就" or “Obviously”. The melody sounds really beautiful. At first, I really thought the MV was filmed in San Francisco, California because the bridge shown in the MV bears a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge but further research proved I was wrong. Parts of the MV was actually filmed at Scotland. Notice that Jay’s hair is dyed blond which I find to be very cool. I was surprised when I first saw him with the blond hair because I haven’t expected him to dye his hair. The last time I saw him with blond hair was the year he released “Ye Hui Mei” album which was way back. It’s definitely a huge change from Jay and I’m expecting more of his surprises coming our way.

Another MV that was also released a few days ago was "大本钟" or “Big Ben”. I thought this song sounds different from Jay’s style of music but it’s great to hear something new. The MV features Lara, who plays the female lead. It’s great to see her again in the same MV with Jay ever since “Coral Sea”. Here is "Big Ben" MV:

Lara is also featured in another of Jay’s newest MV called "比较大的大提琴" or
“Big Cello” along with Gary Yang. I really enjoyed watching this MV because Jay’s choreography is definitely moving at another level. His dancing is getting more and more sharp than ever! The MV is not officially released on JVR Music yet but here is the fan cam of the MV that Jay had shown at the press conference yesterday. It’s very DIAO!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

My first Western Concert- Barry Manilow

Growing up, I have never really taken any interest in anything that is Western-related such as Western movies or music even though I was born in America. The things I only found interesting is if it’s Asian-related. I guess the reason why I’m Asianized is because I grew up being surrounded mostly with Chinese movies, dramas, and music which my parents would watch and listen at home. However, thanks to a friend, my view towards Western media has recently changed as I started to become interested in Western music. It’s good to try something that you were never really interested in because you might end up liking it. My interest in Western music initially sparked from a blog post my friend had written about in which she talked about Barry Manilow, a legendary American singer who was really famous back in the 1970’s, when I didn’t even exist yet. She had talked about how one of Barry’s song “Somewhere Down the Road” was very memorable to her. Like always, curiosity got the better of me so I decided to google up this guy and tried listening to a few of his songs on Itunes. I find his songs to be very romantic, something that would remind someone of their first love. My personal favorites are his hit songs, “Can’t Smile Without You”, “Copacabana” and “Somewhere Down The Road”.
When I heard Barry Manilow is going to come perform at my hometown, I decided to give it a try since I wanted to learn more about who this legendary singer is and also on behalf of my friend who was not able to make it to the concert. On the day of Barry’s concert which was held at HP Pavilion, San Jose on December 6, 2012, when my dad and I arrived at the HP Pavilion an hour before the concert started, the line was already formed with a lot of people from the older generation. I was probably one of the youngest fans there. Well, you’re never too young to listen to Barry Manilow, right? Age difference doesn’t really matter; what matters is doing whatever makes you happy. They were selling Barry Manilow merchandises: CDS, T-shirts, etc. I would’ve bought something if the line wasn’t so long. Also, they were selling green glowsticks which I find interesting since glowsticks were very unusual at a Western concert. I wonder why Barry chose green; maybe it was to match the Christmas theme?
The stage was covered up with a red curtain which reminded me a Broadway play. When the concert officially started, the curtain opened up with Barry Manilow appearing in the spotlight; everybody was screaming, cheering, and throwing love out to him. I was touched by how many people of the older generation is still a fan of him after all those years. I don’t recall what Barry’s opening song was but I remembered it was a very romantic song. He first appeared in a red suit which goes along with the color of the curtain and the green glowsticks. Ha, I guess I was right about the Christmas theme.
One of my favorite songs from Barry is “Can’t Smile Without You” which he has performed at the concert. This was actually one of his top hits from back in the days and is still famous as of today. Almost everyone was familiar with this song since they were singing along to it, including me! The song brought a smile to my face when a happy face appeared on the screen during the performance. I liked how Barry said that he likes to make positive and uplifting songs to lift up people’s spirits since he thinks life sucks and it really does. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and was able to interact well with his fans. If I didn’t know he is 69 years old, I would think he is in his 50s since he still looked very handsome as of today. Another thing I liked was how he cracked some jokes to make the audience laugh. The one that really got me was when he said he was the Justin Bieber of the 70’s which I have to agree with him on. Here is a performance of "Can't Smile Without You". Look at all the green glowsticks!

Another one of his hit singles I liked was “Copacabana” which was the cha-cha dancing song. Everybody became more livelier when he performed this song. Here's a fancam of "Copacabana":

There were a few songs he played on the piano and on the keyboards such as "Weekend In New ngland", “Trying to get the feeling”, “I’m your child”, and “Mandy”, which were also his top hits. He played all the songs very beautifully and smoothly. Here is a fancam of his performance of "Weekend In New England" at HP pavilion:

The part that was very enjoyable to watch was the part where he and his band took turns playing the piano, rotating after one another. When he played “Mandy” on the grand piano, at the same time, a video clip was shown on the screen of him performing the song back in 1975 during one of his concerts. I thought he looked really handsome back then with the long hair and his prominent, sharp nose. With his good looks, I bet a lot of fan girls fell for him. If I existed during the 1970s, I would probably went crazy over him too.
Another interesting thing was when Barry showed us some of his previous album covers on the screen. The first album cover showed a picture of him in his 20s when he first debuted. It was hilarious when he said a lot of people thought he looked like Mona Lisa in the picture. Another thing Barry talked about was how his grandfather was the one who had made him into a musician. It was his grandfather who first saw music in him. In dedication of his grandfather, he played a song on his piano with a picture of him and his grandpa shown on the screen. Some people are just born talented; I wish I had that kind of talent too.
A very nice thing Barry did was starting a charity to help music schools to get more instruments. He told us that if we have any instruments we don’t use anymore which is lying at home and collecting dust, then we should do a good cause by donating them to his charity club. This reminds me, I have my older keyboard lying at home which I will probably donate later on. Overall, the concert was very satisfying. Although the concert lasted for only an hour and a half, which was shorter than expected, it was still a very satisfying experience. I have to admit that I have learned quite a lot of Barry Manilow now than before I attended the concert. The next time he comes back, I would be very likely to go again!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I'm Back!!

After being on hiatus for about 4 months due to school, exams, and piano lessons, I finally found some free time to write today’s blog post. I’m glad most of the midterms are over for my accounting and business classes which leaves only the final exams to be the last stressful thing on my mind. There’s a month of school left until winter break. Following winter break will be the spring semester and then after that, it will be the biggest accomplishment of my life because I will be officially graduating from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Time sure flies. 4 years ago, I was entering college fresh out of high school but now in a blink of an eye, I am all grown up and about to graduate from college, take the CPA exam, and then enter the real world of accounting. In the real world, I can imagine life becoming more busier and complicated compared to being in school. Well, it’s hard to say what the future will hold for me so I will just have to wait and see what happens…
As for piano lessons, I have learned quite a lot after taking it for 6 months. I’m currently on Lesson 2 and enjoying it even more than Lesson 1. The things I have learned and enjoyed the most is being able to change to different hand positions, moving the fingers up and down the keyboard, and using the pedal to preserve the sounds. Since I wasn’t born a pianist, it’s difficult to play as smoothly as a professional. However, I believe that I can be able to play more smoothly probably in the future when I have master the skills. I noticed that the more time I spent practicing on the piano, the more drawn to it I become. Now I find myself playing the piano more than when I first started.
I just like the feeling of playing a song over and over again until I know how to play the entire song because this makes me feel like I have accomplished something big. This motivates me to practice even harder to try to master another song which I want to play and show off to my family and friends whom I can imagine being amazed by my piano skills. A month ago, I have purchased an electric piano at Costco for a very affordable price which includes a pedal as well as chair. What’s unique about this piano is that the keys are heavy-weight which feels like the ones on a grand piano. As for my old electric piano and dad’s old brown piano, they have been put aside for future use. The brown piano needs to be tuned up but piano tuning is a bit costly, so buying another electric piano is more worth it. Here is the electric piano I have recently purchased. You can see the heavy weight keys and the pedal on the bottom right of the picture:

Also, my interest in reading have grown in the past few months because I found myself purchasing books even when I haven’t even started reading the ones I already have. Maybe I should put a halt to my excessive spending until I have finished the ones I haven’t even started. A book I have recently finished reading is “Total Recall”, a biography on Arnold Schwarzenegger. Overall, the book is pretty interesting and very motivating. He pretty much talks about his life growing up in Austria while carrying the dream of going to America. He accomplished this dream through bodybuilding. After arriving in America, he worked as a trainer in a gym and later on, film companies hired him as an actor which then brought him to fame in Hollywood. You might’ve first saw him in “The Terminator”. He also talks about his experiences succeeding Grey Davis to become California’s governor and how that has changed his life.

I admire the fact that he had put a lot of time and effort to have succeeded in the position he is in today. There are many people who says that something can’t be done but Arnold is able to prove them wrong. For instance, in the book, he mentioned how his father didn’t believe that he will succeed in bodybuilding but Arnold was able to prove that his father was wrong by becoming a championship in bodybuilding. Also, when some people did not believe he will become a politician, he proved them wrong with his victorious winning in becoming a governor. I learned from Arnold that everything is possible if you just try.

Now, to end the day, here is a line from the book I find to be very motivating:

“The only way to make the possible possible is to try the impossible. If you fail, so what? That is what everybody expects. But if you succeed, you make the world a much better place”.

 -Arnold Schwarzenegger from Total Recall

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Books, Books, Books!

In one of my earlier posts, I have mentioned that I’m beginning to read a lot to improve my writing as well as to boost my sense of imagination and creativity. This summer, besides enrolling in piano classes and writing this blog, I have also devoted myself to reading as many books as possible. In today’s post, I would like to talk about some of the books I have read during my summer vacation.

A novel that I have recently finished reading and become fond of is “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins; there are actually a total of 3 books in the trilogy but in my opinion, the first book was the best of the best. Basically, this novel depicts the story of a girl named Katniss Everdeen who is forced to take part in the game of killing her opponents to be the last one standing at the end. She is only left with these options: to kill or to be killed.

When I first started reading “The Hunger Games“, it was hard to put the book down after the first few pages got me completely hooked while feeling tempted to finish it. To be honest, it actually took me less than a week to finish devouring all 3 books. I wonder if the author got her idea of writing “The Hunger Games” from reading the Japanese novel “Battle Royale” since both novels display the similar theme of “survival of the fittest” in which people are randomly chosen to take part in the game of killing one another in order to survive and be the last one standing. I was expecting all 3 books to be about the Hunger games but turned out only the 1st book focused on that while the other 2 books focused more on the main characters rebelling against the Capital to try to put a stop to the Hunger Games.

Now that I have finished reading the novel, it’s time to watch the movie but I still need to wait a few more days until the DVD is going to be released on my birthday, August 18. It would definitely be a great birthday gift to start with. Some people say that the book is better than the movie while others say that the movie is better than the book but everybody has different opinions so it’s hard to place a judgment on that. Well, I will have to see the movie for myself before making an opinion.

Overall, “The Hunger Games” trilogy were the best novels I have ever read. It was a very great read and a major page turner with tons of unstoppable action sequences. Every genre you ever wanted to read is complete in this novel: action, romance, family, etc. Thanks to the great plot and storyline, I would give this book a rating of 5 stars!

Another novel I have also finished reading was the erotic romantic novel called the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. It's said that this novel may cause the next "Baby Boom". Before purchasing this book, I had no idea that it was an erotica themed novel because I did not really read the summary of what the story is going to be about. Since it was a very popular novel with over 8,000 ratings and currently ranked #1 on the list of Bestsellers on Amazon, I decided to give the book a try. I thought it was going to be like a simple romantic novel like the “Twilight” series but who knows that halfway through the book when I finally realized that it was an erotic romance novel and had to put the book down because I was not used to reading this kind of novel. However, I reconsidered since I did not want to waste money on my purchase but since I felt like I was still not mature enough to read the intense parts, I skipped most of them. The book is basically about a college graduate student named Ana Steele who meets a rich and handsome entrepreneur, Christian Grey; ironically, they fell in love with one another at first sight and desires to see each other again. As for what happened next, you will have to read the novel to see for yourself.

Overall, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy was a so-so novel. The book was not badly written but what’s disappointing is how repetitive some of the parts were that it made me want to give up on the book at some point during the novel. However, I was tempted to know where the story is going so I continued to read on. It seems like the author became really lazy by lengthening the novel with repetitive scenes and words. Another thing bothering me is how the author spends too much time on writing the erotic scenes rather than focusing on character development because 50% of the books are focused on erotic scenes. At the end, I was more familiar with erotica more than the characters. Overall, I would give the novel a rating of 3 stars.

If you’re interested in adult fiction, then the “Fifty Shades of Grey” is recommended for you but if you’re not so mature enough like me, then the “Hunger Games” is meant for you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

London 2012 Olympics: Gymnastics

Another one of my favorite sports to watch during the Olympics is gymnastics. In this year’s womens USA team, most of the gymnasts are new except for one. I was expecting to see old faces from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but unfortunately, championships such as Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin did not enter this year’s Olympics due to injuries. My favorite female gymnast is Shawn Johnson because I find her different from other athletes. I admire the fact that she has a lot of Olympic spirit as she is all smiles on and off the stage and still manages to smile whenever she loses. It’s disappointing that she isn’t included in this year’s Olympics but it’s great news to hear that she is currently in London watching the Olympics with her teammate, Nastia Liukin. The US womens gymnastic team in the London Olympics is not that bad. Congrats to Team USA for winning gold a few days ago.

For the mens, I was pretty disappointed in the US gymnastic team as it seem like they did not put in much effort in training as they made countless mistakes during the team final such as falling off the pommel horse and stepping out of line during the floor exercise. Due to lack of training, I think that most of them in the team are not ready to enter the Olympics yet. As for Team China, they have snagged gold once again, making history like how they had back in Beijing 2008. They seemed to have trained intensively in preparation for the Olympics because their skills are close to being flawless. My favorite male gymnast is Zou Kai from Team China. The first time I saw him was back in the Beijing Olympics and I thought his gymnastic skills were really good and flawless. He never fails to disappoint because he has done it again in this year’s Olympics. I guess the training he has done all paid off. I can’t wait to tune in the next few days to see him making history again in his next individual final competitions.

The Japanese team were pretty good as well but one of the members named Kohei Uchimura almost ruined the chance at getting a medal for himself and his team when he landed on the floor awkwardly after performing the pommel horse. The awkward landing had cost him a lot of deductions, placing the team at 4th place. However, everything changed when the Japanese coach protested to the judges that they did not give the correct points to Kohei Uchimura, forcing them to recalculate the score.

Final results were: 1st place for China, 2nd place for Japan, and 3rd place for Great Britain. The corrections had moved Japan up to 2nd place, replacing Great Britain who had to be moved down to 3rd place for the Bronze. It was the first time Great Britain had snagged a medal for gymnastics; they were really happy about it as they thought they were going to get silver but were a bit disappointed when the final results gave them the bronze. But they were fine with it because a medal was better than having nothing. The ones who are the most disappointed are the Ukrainians who had to pack their bags and walk away empty-handed after they were pushed down to 4th place when they originally were in 3rd place. It was very emotional watching that scene of them walking away with sad expressions on their faces. The Ukranians were happy and celebrating for 10 minutes but that 10 minute of happiness turned into emptiness at the end. I was almost in tears and will never want to watch a scene like this ever again because it’s really heartbreaking to watch. I think the judges should be more careful next time in giving the correct points.

Also, I did not like the fact that the Japanese coach was handing money to the judges while requesting for an appeal to correct Uchimura’s score because it seems like he is bribing them. I wonder if he knows that he is ruining his country’s image by doing such a suspicious act in public!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London Olympics 2012: Swimming

Time sure flies…

It was only 4 years ago when the Olympics had taken place in Beijing, China during the summer of 2008 but it seemed like it had just happened yesterday. Now, 4 years later, the Olympic games are finally back in London, Great Britain. Besides the United States, I’m also supporting other countries such as China, Korea, etc. However, despite being an American born Chinese, I’m supporting China more than my home country because of the strong influence from the Chinese culture as well as from my Dad who is a big fan of China.

One of the sports I enjoy watching the most would be swimming. The most memorable swimming event from the Beijing Olympics was USA swimmer, Michael Phelps, making history by snagging 8 swimming gold medals. I have never been a fan of Michael Phelps but it’s always fun and interesting to watch him racing against other competitors. However, the Michael Phelps I’m seeing this year is different from the legend I saw 4 years ago. I was expecting him to be winning more gold medals for this year’s Olympics but he has not gotten any for the first 3 days until Day 4, which is today, after the 4x200 meter Freestyle Relay final with his teammates.

I’m not really against Phelps but something I find annoying about him from watching the last few day’s swimming competitions is his arrogance; it seems like he is too confident in his ability to win, causing him to depend more on his natural talent rather than on his training. I guess his lack of effort in training and dependency on his talent is the reason why he has a hard time winning this year. After the 4x100 meter Freestyle Relay a few days ago, Phelps & his teammates, which include Ryan Lochte, almost took the gold home but were eventually beaten by the French team who managed to take the lead during the last few seconds of the race. Back in Beijing 2008, France had lost to the US in the same race but now France has finally avenged their loss by grabbing first place. Ryan Lochte was the last person to put a finish to the race for the US team but was caught up by the French. After the race, it was a major disappointment for the US especially for Phelps who had not gotten any gold medal at that time. Lochte didn’t seem too happy with the results because he felt like he had caused the team’s loss but it shouldn’t be his fault as he had the most pressure being the last person to finish the race. Well, at least a silver medal is better than nothing. Anyways, I want to congratulate Team USA for winning their first gold medal in today’s 4x200 meter Freestyle Relay. Michael Phelps has made history again.

In this year’s Olympics, there is a new rising star named Ye Shi Wen who is a 16-year-old female swimmer from China who has recently won 2 gold medals from her swimming competitions (the 200 meter and 400 meter individual medley). In fact, she is the first Chinese swimmer to win gold medals for China’s swim team. Because she has broken the world record in the 400 meter Individual Medley, she became known by many people as the “Chinese Michael Phelps”. I was amazed by how fast she can swim because she had even beaten Ryan Lochte’s time. However, there has been a controversy over whether she has been doping since many people especially the U.S. swimming Coach find her abilities too good to be true. When I heard this piece of news, I find it to be really ridiculous of the US Coach to be suspecting a 16-year-old of doping. Of course, a book shouldn’t be judged by a cover but I’m sure his suspicions were definitely motivated by jealousy. But it’s great news to hear that Ye Shi Wen has passed the drug test today, refuting the coach’s claim on doping. I really admire how hard working she is. To get to the position she is in today, Ye Shi Wen has been training for 2 ½ hours each morning and 2 ½ each afternoon everyday for 9 years and it has all paid off in the London Olympics.

Another great swimmer I have recently become fond of is Park Tae Hwan, the very first Asian swimmer to win a gold medal in the Men’s 400 meter freestyle race during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also the first Korean swimmer to win a swimming medal for Korea. Although he has not won any gold medals in this year’s Olympics yet, he is still satisfied with winning 2 silver medals in both the 400-meter & the 200-meter freestyle relays. During the 400-meter qualifying round, he was disqualified for a false start but then was reinstated back into the competition; he ended up winning a silver medal which was tied with Chinese swimmer, Sun Yang’s time. The 1,500 meter freestyle relay is the remaining race for him. I can’t wait to see how he does.

Another one of my favorite sports to watch is gymnastics but I will talk about that topic in my next blog post.

Now, off to watch the Olympics! :D

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My current obsession with piano

First of all, I would like to say how thankful I am to my role model, Jay Chou, for inspiring me to learn the piano. Thanks to the piano, it has made me more of a positive person today. I noticed that whenever I'm down, playing the piano would immediately brighten up my day by bringing a smile to my face. It’s also a great tool to relieve stress as it has the ability to make me feel relaxed.

Since I have already attended about 2 months of piano classes, I’m quite comfortable playing in the C position. Mostly, every note is based on timing. As of now, I’m already halfway through Level 1 of my piano lessons and about to move on to Level 2. The thing I have learned and enjoyed the most is playing the “slur” where I have to lift my hands up in the air. I loved that part because every time I lift my hands up, I would feel like a professional. My teacher is currently teaching me how to play in the G position. As of now, the song I can play using the G position is “Jingle Bells”. In today’s lesson, she taught me to play the staccato where I have to release the key the instant I play it. During the next lesson, we will move on the Middle C position but after that, I have to wait 3 more weeks to be able to continue my lessons since my teacher have to go back to Hong Kong for a while.

My Singaporean friend has recently surprised me by sending me 2 Jay Chou piano score books in the mail. One contains piano score sheets of Jay Chou’s best hits while the other one contains piano score sheets from the soundtrack of his self-directed movie, “Secret”. I was clueless to what my friend had sent me until I ripped open the package to find a surprise gift. One look at the piano books and it totally made my day! Although I’m still a beginner at piano without sufficient knowledge in playing these songs yet, it still brings a smile to my face just by looking at the music score. I can’t wait until the day when I will be able to play all of Jay’s songs so that I can feel much more closer to him.

 Actually, I used to own 2 Jay Chou piano scores but have sold them since I had no use for them because I thought I was never going to learn the piano. I have shown the Jay Chou piano books to my piano teacher and requested her to play Jay’s “Xing Qing”. I really enjoyed her performance that I couldn’t help but smile and gave her a big round of applause. She told me she loved the song even though she hasn’t really heard any of Jay’s songs before. However, she said the songs were pretty difficult to play but I will be able to master them in about a year. Recently, due to my obsession with piano, I was tempted to purchase more piano score books with music sheets featuring the most popular songs by Jay Chou and KPOP group, TVXQ. I was even more happier to find my dad’s old piano score books/sheets while I was going through my closet last week! There are even music scores by the famous pianist, Beethoven!

I have so much more to talk about when it comes to piano but now its time to put a stop to this post. Oh, last but not least, today my dad dusted off his old brown piano and let me have a try at it! However, it needs to be tuned up since it is about 20 years old.
.. Now, off to practice! :D

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday Night Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

I watched “The Dark Knight Rises” with my dad yesterday at AMC Eastridge. Since Asian movies/dramas have taken away my soul for a while, I haven’t seen an American movie for a very long time. It’s interesting to watch them once again.
After the “Batman” massacre” in Colorado a few days ago, the movie seemed to have become even more popular. It was awkward why so many people wanted to see this movie after the incident happened. To be honest, the incident also tempted me to go watch it. Security have become more strict to make moviegoers feel more safe. For the first time, there were securities standing at the entrance of “The Dark Knight” auditorium checking people before they can go in. Instead of making me calm, the securities made me felt even more nervous. I actually felt a bit scared during the movie yesterday because I was afraid of encountering a “batman” massacre like the one in Colorado. The auditorium was full house yesterday packed with a lot of die-hard Batman fans wearing Batman t-shirts. There were even more people lining up outside of the auditorium waiting to see the IMAX version. Those who came late and was not able to get seats camped outside for the next showing. I was wondering why they had to wait one hour just to see the IMAX version. Why not go to the original HD version to watch their movie rather than just wasting time? Isn’t it pretty much the same thing?
Many people seemed to enjoy the movie very much because there was a large round of applause from the audience after the movie ended. However, I thought the movie was a bit violent with the intense shooting and fighting scenes and not very suitable for little kids. Despite the violence, I wonder why so many parents still brought their kids to watch it. This movie is rated PG-13 but most kids there were under 13. I think they should raise the age requirement to age 16 and up since I feel that 13 year olds are not ready to watch movies like these yet.
Anyways, “The Dark Knight Rises” was a so-so movie. Besides the fighting and action scenes, I find the other parts to be a bit boring. There were some parts I didn't really understand since I have never finished watching the first Dark Knight movie. Also, sometimes I lose track of what's going on because scenes were rushed and people had high accents that it was hard to understand what they were saying. The scene I enjoyed the most was the Cat Women’s (Anne Hathaway) fighting scenes since she made the movie appear to be more interesting and fun. What I didn’t like about the movie was that it was about 3 hours long, making me feel restless. Maybe they should've shortened it a little bit. However, there were some touching parts that were really moving especially the ending scene. Last of all, this movie is recommended if you really love action movies.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Places I want to travel to in the future

To be honest, I have never been out of my hometown, California, before. Someday I would love to travel to Asian countries such as Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. After living in California for 21 years, I find nothing pretty interesting here besides a few sightseeings in San Francisco such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Most of the shops close too early around 9 pm everyday compared to stores that open until midnight or later in Asian countries. Also, it gets boring shopping at stores here because every store pretty much sells about the same items.

The country I would love to visit the most is Hong Kong because it’s where they speak Cantonese, my native language. Maybe I can feel at home there with my decent Cantonese-speaking skills. Although I’m an ABC (American-born Chinese) and have grown up to be English-educated in school, Cantonese was actually my first language; it’s by speaking this language that I can feel much more closer to my culture. I’m glad I know how to speak Cantonese because I would not have to worry about the language barrier when I travel to Hong Kong in the future. The best thing about Hong Kong is the night market. If you’re hungry in the middle of the night, then you can just walk out and simply grab a night meal at the night market. There are many people outside walking at night so you wouldn’t feel afraid of running into creepers or strange people. In California, most of the restaurants here close too early at night besides a few with the drive-thrus that open for 24 hours a day. However, you have to drive farther to get food because most restaurants are not within close walking distance. In Hong Kong, shops/restaurants are located near houses so you can just walk to and fro without having to drive your car.

Another country I would love to visit is China because I want to have the chance to see the Emperor’s Palace as well as the famous Great Wall of China. My dad had been to China before during my 5th grade year; it was a pity that he did not take me along with him. The reason was because he thought I was too little to understand and enjoy the view of the sightseeings. He told me the walk up to the Great of Wall of China was very tiring, long, and endless. I remembered my dad coming home with weak and tired feet from the restless journey of climbing the Great Wall. It would probably take the whole month or so to walk through every step of the Great Wall. To make everything faster, you would have to take the helicopter.

Due to my love for Korean dramas, it tempted me to want to travel to Korea. However, many tourists said that Korea wasn’t what they had expected. It looks good in the dramas but in reality, the place wasn’t that pretty. A few interesting places include the street with different kinds of skin care companies such as The Face Shop, Etude House, Nature Republic, etc. I heard there is also a “plastic surgery” street in Korea where people can get cosmetic surgery for a good price. But the best thing about Korea is that you can be able to see pictures of Korean celebrities everywhere you go.

Many people say Japan is a must-go because it’s really pretty there but the con is that mostly everything is expensive there. The most affordable thing there is probably a bowl of ramen. What’s interesting is that everyday in the streets of Tokyo, many people would dress up like an anime character. This is like Halloween there everyday. If you dress like that everyday here in America, people will probably look at you like your crazy unless you’re attending an anime convention.

Finally, I also want to go to Taiwan because it’s my idol, Jay Chou’s hometown. I would love the chance of bumping into him in the streets of Taiwan someday but that chance is pretty rare. Jay has opened many shops/restaurants in Taiwan and I would love to visit all of them especially his Secret-themed resaturant and the Initial D themed Tofu Restaurant. There are also other sightseeings worth visiting such as the place where you can see the sunrise and also be able to go up to Taiwan’s tallest building, the 101. I also possess decent Mandarin speaking skills so I wouldn’t have much trouble trying to survive there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A trip to IKEA and Foster City Beach

Yesterday, I spent a great deal of quality time with my family. First, we went down to Palo Alto to shop at IKEA, a huge store that sells furniture; however, we didn’t really buy anything. Like always, we would just go there to take advantage of the delicious food they sell at a cheap and affordable price. My favorite dish is the 15 piece meatball with mashed potatoes and gravy which I can get for only $3.99. This dish is actually the most popular dish among customers because it‘s cheap and satisfying. You can also add a side order for only $1.99. Along with her chicken drumstick and mashed potatoes, my sister ordered French fries as her side dish. As for my dad, he only ordered a piece of fish with a variety of vegetables. 15 meatballs were satisfying enough to keep my stomach full for the entire day.
After having lunch at IKEA, we head down to Foster City Beach to take a stroll as well as to take pictures for memories. I haven’t been to the beach for a while; It was actually my second time there. It felt really peaceful just sitting on the bench and staring straight at the river. It seems like I will never get a complete glimpse of the river as the view seems to be endless; I could sit there all day admiring the beautiful, panoramic view. The wind was very strong that it felt I could be lifted up into the air any minute. Actually, it felt really comfortable because the strong wind has the ability to blow away all of my stress and worries. It’s great to just close my eyes and listen to the sound of the wind, the water and the seagulls.

I find it pretty interesting that some people would sit there all day with a fish hook to try their luck at catching a fish but that chance is pretty rare since the strong current of the river is not suitable in attracting any fishes. Another interesting thing I saw was that there is a cage-like home set up by the government to house the cats who were abandoned by people. It was pretty sad to see so many cats being left behind.
When I came home yesterday, both of my legs felt really weak and tired; I guess this was due to lack of exercise and not being used to walking a lot. Next time, when I go to Foster City Beach, I will probably bring my running shoes and attempt to run a mile there.
As for my sister, she came home with her hands smelling like seagull sh*t ;)LOL!

Monday, July 16, 2012

TK Noodle: A great place to spend time with family

I grew up eating TK (Tung Kee) Noodle with my family. It brings back childhood memories of when my family and I went to TK Noodle together for dinner every weekend. I think TK Noodle is a great place to spend time and build relationships with your family. When I was little, I never really enjoyed their food because I was used to eating American food such as Mc Donald’s and Little Caesars. It was during college when I started to develop a liking for TK Noodle. I guess it’s true that people’s tastes change over time because I realized that as I grew older, I learn to appreciate and like the food I used to hate.

During college, my dad would pick me up from school and take me to TK Noodle once a week. TK Noodle offers a variety of food such as wonton noodle soup, chow mein, chow fun, curry noodle soup, taro flour cake but my personal favorite out of them all is chow fun. Chow Fun has everything that I need. It’s also worth the price because it’s abundant in meat, vegetables, and shrimp. The funny thing is that my family and I would always order the same meal. My dad would always go with #1, the original noodle soup; my sister always order #6, the combination noodle soup; as for me, I would always order Chow Fun.

My dad is a big fan of TK noodle because he also grew up eating it. He told me that back in his hometown, people with stalls used to serve noodles with the same flavor as the ones at TK Noodle. It’s interesting that this flavor still manage to exist as of today. I always wondered who the original creator of this soup is to have made it famous. The original TK Noodle used to be located in Downtown, San Jose; after it closed down, other TK noodle franchises opened across the Bay Area. The new TK chain is exactly similar to the old one with the same dish, same taste, and same service.
I thought I will never get tired of the food until recently, I started to get sick of it. Although I’m tired of TK Noodle at the moment, it will still be ranked #1 on my list of favorite restaurants.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy Jay Chou Day! :D

I was impressed to have found out that July 16 is “Jay Chou Day” in Asia. This special day has been celebrated since July 16, 2003 to commemorate the day when one of Jay’s song called “Yi Fu Zhi Ming” or “In The Name of the Father” was released. When 50 radio stations around Asia have broadcasted this song, 8 million fans tuned in to listen to it. Due to the huge number of fans tuning in to listen to “In The Name of the Father”, the 50 radio stations declared July 16 to be “Jay Chou Day”. Ironically, December 31 is also Jay Chou Day in America. When Jay Chou came to San Francisco for his concert 2 years ago, he met the newly appointed governor of Cupertino who declared December 31 to be “Jay Chou Day” in America in recognition of his contribution to the Chinese music world. December 31, 2010 (New Year’s Eve) was the day Jay’s concert was held in San Francisco, California.
Here are some picture of Jay in the San Francisco Bay Area during December 2010:

Jay with Cupertino Governor who declared Dec. 31 as Jay Chou day
Jay posing with "The Green Hornet" poster at Cupertino

Jay with family and friends at San Francisco:

 I wonder how fans in Asia are going to celebrate this holiday and whether Jay will celebrate it with his family and friends. To celebrate it by myself, I am going to wear my pink Jay Chou concert t-shirt and blast Jay’s music in my room all day. My dad would probably think I’m immature but whatever... It is still July 15 today here in America but already the 16 in Asia so this means it’s Jay Chou day tomorrow for me. However, I’m going to celebrate it today!!

Lastly, here's a video in tribute of Jay. Thanks to "In the Name of the Father" which earned him "Jay Chou Day" in Asia!

...Now off to listen to some Jay music! :D

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Struggle With Writing and How I managed to overcome this weakness

One of the weaknesses I face would be writing. I think the reason why I have been struggling with writing is because I was not exposed to a lot of books during my childhood years. Therefore, I regret for not having read alot when I was little. Some of the things I have been struggling with in writing is having trouble using vocabulary and also having a difficult time expressing myself in written communication. To be honest, most of the time, it would take me the whole day to finish writing one blog post.
I remember struggling with writing during my first year at San Jose State University. Prior to entering college, all incoming freshmens are required to take both the math and writing placement tests to determine their place in college. I passed the math test without any worries but unfortunately, failed the writing test. I remember that I was really frustrated on the day of the test because my mind was blank and I just could not put anything down into words so I just bullsh*ted the whole essay, thinking that I’ll do just fine. However, when I realized that I have failed the writing test, I felt like I wasn’t quite ready for college yet. I would say my writing skills at that time were middle school level. I envy those who have passed the test and officially moved on to take college-leveled English classes. According to my writing test results, I was placed in the lowest level of remedial classes. I started with remedial Level 1 during my 1st semester of freshmen year in college and then advanced to level 2 in 2nd semester. During the 2nd semester of remedial English class, I am beginning to see a slight improvement in my writing but I was still struggling with how to develop the content of an essay. Due to this problem, I failed the final exam in Level 2 but was given another chance to retake the class. At that time, it was risky because I was given the final chance to remain at San Jose State University. It was a 50/50 chance. If I failed, I was to be withdrawn from SJSU. If I passed, then I can still remain at SJSU and be able to advance to College Level English courses. Because I didn’t want to be kicked out just because of my weak writing skills, I studied really hard for the Level 2 final exam. During that period, I was practicing intensively on writing essays and also checking out books at the library to see how writers develop their writing. All my efforts paid off when I finally passed the final exam. After 3 semesters of remedial English torture, I was officially enrolled in college-leveled English! Therefore, I had to pat myself in the back for being a hard worker. What followed was 2 more years of college leveled English which required a lot of writing but I have managed to pass both classes as well. The final level in college was ENGL 100W which all students regardless of major are required to take. Prior to enrolling in 100W, students need to take and pass the WST (Writing Skills Test) which I have also passed and had to give myself another pat on the back . After taking the WST, I felt like my writing has improved a lot after taking remedial classes. I am actually still struggling a bit with writing but not as much as in the past. Now, I am spending more of my leisure time writing and reading rather than watching TV or going online. To be honest, I used to despise writing but the more I write, the more I learn to enjoy it.
In the last few weeks, I have been purchasing many books off Amazon as well as at the bookstore to satisfy my desire to improve my writing. A few days ago, I was at Barnes & Noble and bought many hardcover books that were on sale. I wish I can read all the books there is in the store but it would be too much for me. Here are some of the books I purchased that day:

I realized that reading can make me smarter in many ways. The more I read, the more sense of imagination I have. When I read, I would picture a scene in my mind which stimulates my senses. It’s pretty much like watching a movie in my head.
Reading also broadens the way I view things. For instance, I can read about all kinds of situations and perspectives of different characters in books. More importantly, reading can expand my vocabulary, and teaches me the correct way of using punctuation and grammar.
It’s amazing at how much knowledge reading can provide me with so from on, I am going to devote myself to reading and writing more.