Saturday, June 22, 2013

Karaoke: A First For Me

Something new I have tried was going to a karaoke place for the very first time. I went with my sister and 2 of my former accounting classmates. Since karaoke is a popular activity among Asians, the karaoke places are usually located in areas with high Asian population. There are barely any Karaoke places near my area so we had to travel down to the city of Cupertino. The place was "Arirang Music Studio", a karaoke bar operated by a Korean. I'm glad that they have Chinese music but those songs are quite outdated but the English and Korean songs are updated. I was only able to find about 6 or 7 of Jay Chou's older songs in the selection booklet. I sang 3 of his songs, "Cute Girl", "Simple Love", and "Can't Open Mouth" and was able to receive scores in the 90s range with 97 being the highest for "Can't Open Mouth". The song I really enjoyed singing the most was "Simple Love" where I couldn't help but got up to dance along to the opening part. Since it was my first time singing in public and not an experienced singer, I was really happy to receive high scores and had a really great time. However, I wasn't used to singing American music because I barely listen to them so I wasn't quite familiar with how the rhythm and beat goes. Each American song I sang placed me in the 80s range. This means I need to practice singing American songs more.

However, it was quite expensive with the price starting at $30 USD per hour for a small room. We ended up spending 1 and 1/2 hours there so the total price went up to be $45 USD. I'm thinking of investing in a karaoke machine someday so that I can build up my vocal skills and it's better than going to a karaoke bar. As seen in the dramas, people in Asia do go to karaoke often which is a really fun thing to do. I think one of the first things I would do when I move to Asia is to go karaoking first. In fact, my favorite singer, Jay Chou has opened up his own karaoke place in Xi An, China called "True Love Fantasy" where customers can sing his songs and remember his name in the foreseeable future.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movies about Table Tennis (Ping Pong)

After taking ping-pong for 2 semesters at San Jose State University, I have to admit that I fell deeply in love with the sports. Now that the classes are over, I realized that I miss playing it with my classmates. I don't really have friends that are into ping pong; most of them are into badminton. I wish I could join the table tennis club at school but I'm not able to attend the meetings because my dad expects me to come straight home after school. I have a table at home but no one in my family would play it with me due to lack of interest. Thus, sometimes I would play it alone but it's more fun if I get to play it with someone. Sometimes I wish I live in Asia because the sports is popular there especially in China so I could always find someone who is likely to play it with me.
Anyways, in today's post, I would like to share some of the movies I have watched about ping pong. After some research, I found out there are a few movies about table tennis. These movies include: "Ping Pong Playa" (Chinese-American), "As One" (Korean), "Balls of Fury"(American), "Ping Pong" (Japanese) and an anime series, "The Ping Pong Club".

The first one I watched was "Ping Pong Playa", a sports and comedy film written and directed by a Chinese-American. Actually, this is a really funny movie about Chinese stereotypes such as how Chinese are only good at table tennis and how Chinese are bad drivers. Jimmy Tsai, a Chinese-American actor, plays the main character, Christopher Wang, who is only obsessed with basketball and held the dream of becoming the first Asian American to enter the NBA (this was before Jeremy Lin entered the NBA). However, he never accomplished that dream because he wasn't as good as his black counterparts so he blamed himself for his genetics. Basically, his whole family's life revolves around ping pong; his dad owns a store selling ping pong stuff, his mom teaches ping pong classes, and his brother, Michael, is the championship of table tennis. However, later when Christopher's mom and his brother got into a car accident, Christopher is forced to take over in teaching his mom's table tennis classes and also to enter the table tennis championship on behalf of his brother. Overall, this movie is worth the watch because it's full of humor and makes table tennis fun to watch. Two thumbs up for me!

Another movie I watched that was about ping pong was the Korean movie, "As One" starring Ha Ji Won and Bae Doona. I liked how the movie is based on a true story in which North Korea and South Korea united for the 1991 table tennis World Championship in Chiba, Japan where they won gold, thus defeating China for the very first time. Ha Ji Won plays the role of the South Korean team captain, Hyun Jung-Hwa, who had to team up with North Korea's Ri Bun-Hui (played by Bae Doona) for the doubles competition to defeat their rivalry, China. It was quite a touching story where friendships were formed between the North and South table tennis players but they were forced to be separated after the championship because close relationships between the 2 countries were strictly forbidden. I am glad that Korea was able to film this story with such a painful history. Overall, another two thumbs up for great acting, great plot, and great story!

Here is a still from the movie. On the left is Ha Ji Won and on the right is Bae Doona:

Here's the real Hyun Jung-Hwa and the Ri Bun-Hui who defeated China at the 1991 World Championship in Chiba, Japan: