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.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Martial Arts

Since I was little, I have developed a liking for martial arts films. It’s probably due to my influence from attending a few martial arts classes during my childhood years. It’s a pity that my dad did not allow me to continue attending these classes as he thought it was too “dangerous” for me to go on. If I had stayed, then who knows what will become of me today?
I remember my kungfu sifu (master) was a young, Caucasian guy who knows how to speak fluent Cantonese. During my first week of class, he taught me a lot of skills such as kickboxing, punches, flips and the most interesting of them all, the “split”. I was really enjoying what I was learning but when my dad suddenly canceled my classes after one week, I was disappointed. The reason he made this choice was because he wasn’t happy seeing me doing the “split” as he thought it was dangerous for my body. Later, I was enrolled in karate classes but dropped out after a week due to the same reason. Ever since I quit martial arts classes, I noticed that every time I watched a martial arts film, I would feel excited.

My favorite martial artist is Donnie Yen, a famous martial artist/actor based in Hong Kong. I admire his style of being a mixed martial artist who possesses various kinds of martial arts skills: Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Parkour, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Wrestling, Wushu, and Wing Chun. He has starred in a number of Hong Kong martial arts films but my personal favorites are “IP Man”, “Sha Po Lang” and “Legend of Chen Zhen”. “IP Man” is based on a true story about a martial arts master named Yip Man who was the first person to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. I thought Donnie Yen portrayed his role very well because of his display of true Wing Chun skills in the movie.

Another personal favorite also starring Donnie Yen is “Sha Po Lang” or “Kill Zone”. Donnie’s martial arts skills impressed me the most in this film because his fighting scenes were really intense that I thought it was really awesome and exciting to watch.
Here is the awesome trailer:

In “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen”, Donnie played a role that was previously played and made famous by Bruce Lee. In this movie, Donnie plays Chen Zhen, a martial artist who disguises himself as a masked superhero (based on “The Green Hornet’s Kato) to defeat the evil and save the world.

After blogging today’s post, I feel really tempted to watch a martial arts film again because I have not seen one for a while. Maybe I’ll pop “IP Man” in the DVD player tomorrow night and relive the excitement over the fighting scenes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

JYJ: My First KPOP Concert

I would not say I'm the obsessed KPOP fan but I have a liking for it.
Before I knew JYJ existed, I never really listened to KPOP (Korean Pop) .The only music I listened to was Cpop (Chinese pop) such as Jay Chou, Jolin Tsai, Leehom Wang, etc.. I was first exposed to JYJ when a few friends had posted on their Facebook about their excitement over JYJ’s concert. During June 2011, JYJ came to perform at the college I’m currently attending, San Jose State University. I was curious who this band was to have made so many fan girls excited so like always, I did a research on them and found out they are a really famous kpop group based in South Korea. JYJ was formed by 3 members named Kim Jaejoong, Kim Junsu, and Park Yoochun who were originally former members of the 5-member group, Dong Bang Shink Ki (DBSK). They had left their original group in 2010 due to personal conflict with their company and so DBSK is now left with only 2 members. The first song I heard from JYJ was “Empty”, a song from their first English-language album called “The Beginning”. When I first heard the song, I thought they were singing in Korean because of their strong Korean accent. However, after listening to it a few more times, I realized that they were singing in English. My personal favorite from their English album would be "Be My Girl". They had also collaborated with Kanye West for one of their English songs, “Ayy Girl”. Many people thought the song was badly done but I thought it was pretty catchy and interesting. Here is the MV of "Ayy Girl":

After doing further research, I also found out they sang in 3 different languages: korean, japanese, and english. They had also sang in Japanese when they were still with DBSK. On Youtube, when I searched for DBSK’s music videos, the first one I stumbled upon was their most popular Japanese single, “Why Did I Fall In Love With You?”. At first listen, I was completely sold. This song was very beautiful that I couldn‘t stop listening to it:

After sampling their songs, I decided to attend their concert since many people said it’s an event not to be missed out. Also, it’s the first time a KPOP artist is coming to my school so why not go? Even though I wasn’t officially a fan girl at that time yet, I still had the desire to attend their concert. I bought the cheapest tickets but on the day of the concert, I was allowed to move up to closer seats because more than 1/2 of the seats were empty. I find it very interesting to see that more than 80% of the audience who attended the concert were non-Koreans. That was when I realized that kpop was quite successful in attracting fans of different nationalities. I also find it interesting that many people listen to KPOP even though they don’t understand the Korean language. I have been to 3 Chinese concerts but barely saw Non-Asians such as Hispanics & White.

On the day of the Concert, when I finally saw the 3 members of JYJ, I got quite excited although I wasn’t officially a fan yet. All 3 members were very handsome and had unique voices that I was completely blown away by their performance. The pretty boy of the group, Kim Jaejoong has an angel-like voice that is neither high or low. The maknae (youngest) of the group, Kim Junsu has a voice that is very soft and of the highest tone. Park Yoochun, who is the rapper of the group, has the lowest voice.

The song that captivated me the most was “In Heaven” which was the last song they performed at the concert. The melody was very touching and melancholic that tears were brought to my eyes when I heard it for the first time. This song was composed by Kim Jaejoong in dedication of his good friend Park Yong Ha, a Korean actor who had passed away last year. However, this song wasn’t officially released at that time; it was released in their 1st full length Korean album called “In Heaven”.

Here's the FULL 10 min. version of "In Heaven" MV. Even if I don't understand the song, it still sounds beautiful to the ears.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Flea Market: A place to find antiques

Yesterday, my dad and I went to the big Flea Market located at Berryessa. The last time I had been to the flea market was ages ago. The place made me reminisce the times of my childhood years when my dad would always take me and my sister to the flea market. Our favorite brown teddy bear was actually purchased at the flea market. The teddy bear was very unique as it has eyes that are able to open and close. You don't really see stuffed animals with movable eyes like these in your local toy stores anymore because they got banned after several incidents of choking occured among kids. It was very hazardous as the eyes may fall out and kids may swallow them by accident.

I have always wondered how old our teddy bear is because it could be an antique. Someday, I want to bring my teddy bear to an antique exhibit and asked an expert how much it's worth.
Although I didn't really purchase anything during my trip to the flea market yesterday, I still find it fun and interesting to walk around looking at what people are selling. It always made my day to see Mexican male vendors shouting out "one dolla, one dolla" like they are calling out at an auction. Besides people selling tangible items such as used clothes and hair accessories, there are also people offering services for massage and a hair cut at an affordable price. I actually preferred going to the flea market more than going to the mall because the flea market is the place where I can find alot of old stuff that can't really be found elsewhere. Many people see these old stuff as useless but others may have different opinions of them; that is, they may see these items as a "treasure". Also, most items there are cheaper than the ones that are sold at the mall.

Sometimes my dad would come home from the flea market with items he call Chinese "antiques". Here is an item he bought a few months ago: 

According to the carving of the Chinese character "Ming" on the bottom, my dad assumes it belonged to the Ming Dynasty. However, it wasn't certain if this was the "real" deal because alot of copycats created fake ones that look just like the original one. My dad told me that if it was the original one, then we would become millionaires because the item could probably be worth the price of 3 Mercedes Benz! Holy cow!

Here are also other ancient Chinese items he found last week: 

Call me weird but someday, I really need to bring my teddy bear along with my dad's antiques to an antique roadshow to see how much they are actually worth. If they were worthy items, then what would we do with all that money?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Classic Hong Kong Dramas

Unlike many ABCs (American Born Chinese) who have a major preference over American dramas, I actually have a liking for Hong Kong films. To be honest, I have not watched an American drama for many years. My current interest is only in Asian dramas but for me, Hong Kong films is the best of the best. It was through watching these dramas that I can feel closer to my culture. Because of the huge amount of exposure to Hong Kong dramas during my childhood years, I have developed decent Cantonese speaking skills. My main source of Cantonese was speaking the language with my family but watching Hong Kong dramas serves as another source in improving my Cantonese.

I’m still catching up on the latest Hong Kong dramas today but I find the older dramas to be better than the current ones. I guess the reason is because story writers have either become lazier or just simply ran out of ideas. The storyline in most of today’s HK dramas is becoming less attractive, making me give up after a few episodes. It seems like the storyline is lacking in development because mostly everything is rushed, giving me the “get it over with” feel. For instance, there are a few HK dramas I have recently seen with couples lacking in chemistry. I find it rushed when the couples have gotten together when they barely knew each other but then broke up after a few weeks. They should really take the time to really become familiar with each other before developing a relationship. I find older dramas tend to have couples with really good chemistry because of the longer time they got to know each other well.

I guess another reason why today’s HK dramas are less attractive is because of modern technology. Back when technology wasn’t very high-tech, people worked really hard in the movie industry but after technology existed, people became lazier that they tend to depend more on the computer than on their brains. This is why most scenes are computerized; for example, in martial art films, most of the fighting scenes have become more computerized. Also, people do not have to spend a lot of money on filming when technology has done most of the job for them.

The most memorable Hong Kong drama I have ever watched was the first season of ATV series, “My Date With A Vampire”, which was very successful back in 1999. The story depicts the life of a man and his non-biological son who turned into vampires after being attacked by one during the Japanese war and have lived as “good” vampires for the rest of their lives. However, after many years have passed, they encountered a “bad” vampire who wanted to take over the world by making everyone become vampires so the man and his non-biological son tries to stop this from happening.

There were 2 more sequels to the first season but they weren’t as good as the first one. Each season had the same characters but with a different storyline. I still remembered my family and I were sitting on the couch and catching up with every episode which aired every night during the weekdays. We have also recorded the whole drama which I have re-watched for about 3 times and never gets boring.

Another drama on my favorite list is the 1997 TVB series, “The Disappearance” starring Gordon Lam and Bowie Lam. The story is about a reporter guy named Lap who becomes invisible after accidentally drinking a magical liquid his cousin, Jang, left behind. But most of the time, we the audience are able to see him. He later meets a policewoman named Nam who knows his secret of becoming an “invisible” man and they solved cases together.
Another memorable series was the 1994 TVB series, “The Legend Of The Condor Heroes” starring Julian Cheung and Athena Chu, which I have also re-watched for 3 times. This was actually the best ancient Chinese drama I have ever seen in my life. The storyline was very meaningful and attractive and the characters had very great chemistry.

I barely see dramas as good as these anymore. It’s always fun to re-watch them again. :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

My first Jay Chou concert

You wouldn't know how excited I felt when when I heard my idol, Jay Chou was coming to my area (San Jose) for his world tour concert during summer 2010. My heart was jumping with joy when I first heard the news; I have waited for 5 years to finally be able to see him in reality!! I had to buy those VIP tickets no matter what! A month before the tickets went on sale, I was already feeling impatient because I was afraid that other fans will snag all the VIP tickets before I do. However, on the day the tickets went on sale, I was disappointed to find that all the VIP tickets have already been reserved before the tickets were officially released to the public. I thought it wasn't fair because alot of people like me had no idea that we could reserve tickets in advance. The best seats I could get were the seats to the side right next to the stage; the view wasn't very good but I still made the choice to buy those seats because I wanted to see Jay up close.

 Here's my detailed account of the concert: On the day of the concert (December 31, 2010), my sister and I arrived about 1 and a half hour early before the concert started and boy when we got there, the line was somewhat long already. However, the doors weren't even open yet and people were already forming 2 lines outside. What's awesome was that a white guy was the first person to be standing on one of the two lines. (he probably is a die-hard fan to have came that early). Without any hesitation, we quickly made our way to one of the lines. It was pretty freezing during that day too and we had to wait in the cold weather about 30 more minutes until the security guards finally opened the doors. My heart was jumping with excitement when I finally made it inside Hp pavilion. Wow, it was my first time there and the place was so big and mesmerizing!!! :D

Next, we speed-walked to the line to purchase jay merchandises and glowsticks. We were actually like the 6th persons in line and were glad because the line became longer when more people started coming in. The first thing that caught my eye was the pink t-shirt. I heard this t-shirt sold out later so I was glad I purchased it!! :D The merchandises were kinda costly but it's worth the money since jay barely comes to san jose. I bought almost everything except for the advertised poster, the ring, and the blue keychain. There were the robot toys too but I already have those. The pink star glowstick was only $5 but we only bought one because I brought my own. However, I regretted not buying another one because the one we bought died during the concert. I was also expecting them to sell the jay piano music box and the huge jay blue figurine but those weren't there; those were probably sold out during his concerts in Asia. When we were finished buying merchandises, we went to find our seats. It was hard to buy good seats at that time because many people had already reserved all the VIP tickets so the best seats we could get were the second most expensive ones. I found my seat and it was on the very first row on the sides which was right next to the stage but at the corner. Wow, I was amazed by how close I was to the stage but the view was somewhat bad since I was not facing the stage directly.  Plus, the boombox was kind of hindering the stage. We had to wait for 30 more minutes until the concert started. I scanned around the stage and noticed there was a big globe-like ball sitting in the middle of the stage. I was curious what it was for... There was a girl named Jessica sitting next to my sister and we mingled a bit with her. She brought 2 big Jay Chou poster signs that her mom helped her to make. Wow, barely anyone brought signs to the concert; I was impressed that she did. Next time, I should make a big poster too! Since my sister was sitting next to her, she asked my sister to help her hold up the poster signs and wave it to jay. I noticed that most of the people in the VIP seats were baby boomers!!! Wow, they must've been a fan for 10 years already!

30 minutes later, the lights turned off and the 3d box turned on!! Omg, it's finally starting!! I This is the intro! Then music started playing and I noticed something was moving in the box. Oh! It was a 3d image of Jay moving in the box. Suddenly, the music changed into rock music and the 3d jay was suddenly holding a guitar and strumming it. After the intro ended, the "dragon rider" song started playing and then the big ball opened. Omg, at that moment, my heart was beating very fast due to excitement because I couldn't believe that I was going to see him! When the ball opened, Jay was standing in it and wearing a dazzling outfit!!! I quickly took out my camera and snapped pictures like crazy. Halfway through the song, Jay came down from the ball.

When the "dragon rider" song ended, "The era" song started playing and then Jay started walking to the front near the VIPers. At that time, everybody was screaming like crazy!!! I was saying "Oh my gods" for countless times when I finally saw his face up close! He stopped at the very front of the stage and continued to sing until the part of the stage where he stood suddenly moved and went upward. A few seconds later, Jay was up in the air standing on a mini stage. It was pretty cool how he managed to balance well on that pole-like stage.

The next song was "Snake Dance" and it opened up with fire blowing in the air and the female dancers performing the snake dance for like 5 minutes. When the song officially started after 5 min., Jay appeared wearing a shiny golden outfit and sitting on a chair. He was sitting the whole time during the performance. I thought Lara was going to appear to sing her part but turned out it was just a substitute for her. The substitute was sitting in the cage-like chair the guys were carrying and lip-synching to Lara's part. After the song ended, Jay started talking; he said that san jose's scenery was very beautiful and he was glad it was his first time here. He told us that he had always wanted to come here but his company had arranged his concert to be somewhere else and that is, Los angeles. Then he talked a bit about his life like how he was shy back then and didn't want to make eye contact with people by hiding his eyes behind his hat. He also said he had a hard time seeing the road in front of him when his eyes were covered. After the talking, Jay did a mini beat-box version of "Love In B.C" song and when he was beat-boxing, he suddenly coughed. haha so cute!! Auto-tune was also added to take advantage of the latest trend in music. The next song was "I'm Not Worthy" and Jay appeared with a dazzling shiny outfit. The first thing that happened was that he walked to the corner to where my sister and I were sitting; we got excited and started screaming. Omg, Jay Chou was so close to us (like 5 ft away) and standing in front of us!!! At that moment, my sister and Jessica were screaming and waving the poster like crazy to get jay's attention while I was snapping pictures and waving to jay at the same time. . Next, Jay performed the "Hip-Hop Stewardess" song. The female dancers wore the same outfit as seen in the MV and the choreography was pretty good. Next was "William's Castle" and dancers appeared in Grim Reaper outfits.. It was so Halloweenish.. Then it was "Mr. Magician" where Jay appeared wearing a red Michael Jackson-like outfit.:D 

Then Jay introduced Cindy Yuen, a new female singer under his company. She appeared wearing a dazzling dress and playing the piano. I forgot what song she was singing.. I felt kinda sad because few people were cheering for her as they were not very familiar with this newcomer. Then Jay and Cindy Yuen sang a duet together, "Wu Ding" or "Rooftop", which was a song Jay had written for Taiwanese singer, Landy Wen. it was a very beautiful song.... During the performance, for the second time, Jay made his way to the corner towards us!!

Next up were performances by the new duo who is also under JVR Music called "The Drifters" with Darren and Chang Qing. Like Cindy, not many people cheered for them. They appeared wearing Indian-like clothes that were supposed to be Chinese style clothing but didn't really look like it. Firstly,they sang one of their songs from their album, "Write Letters When Thinking Of You". Halfway through the song, Chang Qing walked towards the corner to where Jay was standing earlier and we screamed like crazy again because we wanted to get their attention too. Chang Qing was very nice to have responded with us with a very warm smile and a wave!! He even made eye contact with me because I was the one right next to the stage!! :D We gave him credit for noticing and acknowledging us. I wished Jay would respond to us like that too but he has way too many fans. Another song they performed was "You're My Band-aid", a very cute song composed by Jay.

Jay played the next four songs on his white piano but I couldn't see Jay's face during that time because the piano was blocking my view. He was playing 4 songs related to the 4 seasons and those were "Fireworks Cooled Easily", "Rice Paddy Fragrance", "Tornado", and "Sunny Otaku".  If I recall, I think he also performed "Where's the promised happiness" on his piano.
Next up he performed "Simple Love" where he suddenly came down to shake hands with his fans for the first time!! However, it the VIPers who got that advantage. We were expecting Jay to come to the sides to shake our hands too since we were in the first row but there was a security blocking the way in front of us!! If that security wasn't there, Jay might have made his way to us!! Here is the video I recorded during the performance: (Sorry for shaky hands again~)

Afterwards, Jay performed the "Free Instructional Song" while playing the guitar like a piano which no other artists have done before.

What followed was the "Time Machine" song where Jay came down for the 2nd time to shake hands!! Everyone was screaming like crazy and pushing to the front to have the chance to touch his hands for the 2nd time. I was expecting him to come towards us again but the security guard was still in the way:( Even though I couldn't touch his hand, it was still amazing to see him up that close!!! I even recorded a video of that footage:

After the song ended, Jay disappeared and then suddenly another 3d box appeared on the center of the stage!! Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good glimpse of the 3d images in the box since I was sitting in the corner where most of the front view was blocked.  The thing I could make out was that the 3d Jay appeared in the box and started singing "Dad, I'm Back", "Raining all Night" and "Love's Flight Diary". It was during the "Love's Flight Diary" song where the real Jay finally appeared in the middle of the box. But I didn't really enjoy these 3 performances much because I couldn't see anything. Next time, I'm definitely reserving VIP front seats to get a better view!! ^_^
After the 3d box performances, I think there was a video on the screen showing the past 10 years of his works such as his movies, mvs, and songs. There was also a message on the screen in english saying thank you for his fans for supporting him all these years. Then Jay performed "Superman Can't Fly" which is one of my favorite songs in "The Era" album! Then he performed "In the Name of The Father" while doing Michael Jackson's famous moonwalk dance. What followed was "Can't Open Mouth" song which was the only song with the lyrics being shown on the screen so that everyone can sing along to it. When the song ended, Jay said thank you and disappeared backstage.

At that moment,We thought the concert had already ended!! Then everyone started yelling and screaming for jay's name in chinese: zhou jie lun! zhou jie lun! This is encore #1!! After a few min, Jay appeared wearing a red shiny outfit and a hat with his piano.  The inside of the piano was filled with flowers!! :D He played the first few notes of "Give me a song of the song" and then got up to sing and dance!! Then the song ended and we thought the concert ended!

Then it was encore #2 where Jay appeared again and did the countdown with us!! This was the most exciting part of the concert!!! :D When the clock reached 12 AM, the "Nunchucks" song started playing and Jay started waving his PINK neon nunchucks around. It seemed like the concert was about to end so everybody stood up and started singing along to the "hgh hgh ha hee" part!! haha it was very exciting!!! When the song ended, Jay threw the pink nunchucks to the VIPers and one lucky fan caught it. Aww, I wished the dancers threw theirs to the audience too since they had so many!! Then he jumped up and disappeared in a hole. Lol. It seemed like the concert had officially ended but people were still standing there waiting for jay to appear again. Well, the lights didn't turn on yet so that means there was more!!!
Heres the fan recorded video of jay doing the NY Countdown, performing "Nunchucks" and threwing the pink neon nunchucks to the crowd:

When Jay didn't appear for like 2 min., encore #3 started!! Once again, everyone was screaming and yelling for Jay's name in chinese!! zhou jie lun! zhou jie lun!! for countless times (this time louder) until Jay suddenly appeared and the "Zhou Da Xia" song from Kung Fu Dunk started playing. We were brimming with excitement because the concert was still going on!! Aiya, this time, everyone was really high and singing along to the "tofu" and "kungfu" part!! After the zhou da xia song, jay said "Common Jasmine Orange" was the last song to end the day and and said thank you to everyone. Aww, I didn't want Jay to leave, i wanted the concert to go on forever!! Omg, during the song, Jay came down for the 3rd time!! So many people were running to the front and surrounded him that I couldn't see. I should've ran to the front too but I wasn't allowed to.. Plus, there were too many people already in the way that it was hard to push through.. :( At the end, Jay went back up to the stage, said his goodbyes and thank yous and then disappeared. The lights turned on and it was the end!! However, some people were still standing there yelling out his name!! haha Lmao. Before going home, we snapped a few pics!! The concert officially ended around 12:30 am!!

Overall, it was the best concert I have ever attended!! It was very satisfying as the concert lasted for 3 whole hours with 3 encores so it was definitely worth the money I paid for!! It was great to have spent new years doing the countdown with Jay and it was very nice of him to have given us 3 encores!! However, I felt like I could've gotten better seats. Like I said, the seat where I was sitting had a somewhat bad view since I couldn't see the 3d box. But at least it's close to the stage to where Jay was!! :D Next time Jay comes back, I'm going to reserve the VIP seats first thing before they even start to sell the tickets!! Jay promised that he will come back in 2 years so he will probably do so this year or next? Can't wait!! :DModify message