Monday, February 26, 2007

Paying Respects To The Heavenly Deity

The ninth day of the Lunar New Year is an important day for us Hokkiens, as this is the day we have to pay respects to the Heavenly Deity (Jade Emperor).

Yesterday night, which is the eighth, I went down to Lor Koo Chye temple after my rehearsals as I had arranged with my parents to meet there to pray to the Heavenly Deity. The ceremony was supposed to take place at twelve midnight exactly, so we had to get there early to "book" a place on the offerings altars provided by the temple management. This was the second time we pray at the temple, as my parents felt that it was more convenient as they could skip some tedious preparation works. Actually to me it wasn't much of a difference, because the amount of things to buy and prepare and about the same.

The moment I stepped down from my bike, I saw my parents' car zooming past me; what a coincidence! It was barely a quarter past nine, still too early for the prayers. Therefore, after laying out all our offerings on the offering altar, I went straight to the backyard of the temple, whereby a Hokkien opera was being staged.

This year, the temple invited Wei Shann Taiwanese Opera to perform for the Lunar New Year period. Wei Shann is a Taiwanese Opera troupe from Tainan county of Taiwan, more famous for their "oh-pe-la" (fantasy-styled Chinese opera) and street shows. Years ago I've seen their theatrical performance when they came to Singapore, and I didn't quite like it. I felt that they were not good at all back then, but this time round, I think their performance was acceptable. Not that they'd improved dramatically; they still have fanciful glittery and feathery costumes, strong doses of synthesizers and western band percussions as well as flying stunts. However, I felt that for opera performances in such temple fairs, one cannot expect too artistic productions as in theatrical productions. Therefore, although I may think their performances yesterday was still not too bad, I certainly do not expect the same standard when they perform in theatres! On a side note, I find it a pity that quite a few of their actresses did not sing well.

The opera show ended at 11.30pm, and after taking a short break, the troupe performed a religious "Ban Xian" show on stage. This "Ban Xian" show is a must for temple performances, with it's main aim to thank the Gods for the good year that had gone by, as well as to giving blessings to the worshippers. The "Ban Xian" show ended at 12 midnight, and I headed straight to the courtyard of the temple where my parents were still waiting for me.

The courtyard was already full of worshippers, each holding joss sticks in their hands. I started to feel uncomfortable, as my eyes are sensitive to the smoke emitted from joss sticks. Shortly after, the taoist priests appeared and starting chanting scriptures. Lor Koo Chye temple has got Lord Cheng Huang as the temple's anchor God, and since Lord Cheng Huang originates from Qingxi county (present-day Quanzhou), the religious ceremony was very Hokkien in flavour, and the priests were riciting in typical Quanzhou accent (but not as strong). After the ceremony was completed, we started to burn our incense paper. This is the part which I felt very troublesome. Not that I have anything against this, but the incense chamber has got only 3 to 4 slots, and I had to queue and wait for my turn to use, with the heavy pile of incense paper in my hands. So it seemed to me that praying at home is actually more convenient for me, as we don't have to go through the hassle of fighting over the buring chamber with other worshippers!

By the time we finished buring all our incense paper, it was close to 1am. The crowd at the temple was much lesser now, but there was still quite a number of people praying, and the priests were still chanting scriptures. My father said it was fine to leave, and hence we packed up our remaining offerings, load them back into the car and headed home...

Buying Burmese CDs

Lately out of boredom, I searched the net for some Burmese pop music, and chanced upon this singer called Sai Sai Kham Hlaing. He's a 28 years old hip-hop singer who had been in the music scene for about 7 years , and although I'm not quite a fan of hip-hop music, I still find his music nice, just that I don't understand what he's singing. Therefore on Saturday evening, on my way to work at "Little Thailand", I decided to make a detour to "Little Myanmar" to go look for his CDs. This shall be my second time buying Hip-hop music CDs in my entire life! (Eminem's the first, while Jay Chou is not considered real hip-hop).

Unlike Golden Mile Complex where there are at least a few shops selling Thai CDs, there isn't any in Peninsula Plaza. But there are some sundry shops which carries Burmese CDs. I entered one of these shops and spotted Sai Sai's album "Sai Sai Hu Khaw", which was released in 2005. This is the album which got me interested is his music, so I bought it instantly. Before I bought, I actually asked the shopowner if the CD was an orignal, and to which she replied "Yes".

I hopped into another shop and saw another older album and MV DVD of Sai Sai, and I bought them too. Well, I think I was too rash into getting them, as I realised that these CDs are not original, and there're visible marks of DIY on the album jackets and CD labels! So the moral of the story: do not buy CDs from Golden Mile Complex (Thai), Peninsula Plaza (Myanmar) and Lucky Plaza (Tagalog), unless you're only looking for mp3 CDs which you do not intend to keep once you copied them into your mp3 player or computer. These CDs may not be expensive, but it's not worth the money, as you could jolly well get original copies of the same album at a slightly higher price off the net! Well, on a sidenote, at least now I can enjoy Sai Sai's songs at CD quality, instead of downloading poor quality mp3 from various websites. But I'll still buy the original CDs soon if I have the means to do so!

To wrap up this post, let me showcase some of his MVs here:

PS: In case any of you people out there wonder, Sai Sai's not going to replace Potato or Fahrenheit as the most iconic pop stars in my heart; he's just another new addition to the list that's all! Speaking of Fahrenheit, their pictorial book is still out of stock! God who can help me get one copy?!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Finally Arrived: "It Started With A Kiss" DVD Set

I finally received my "It Started With A Kiss" DVD set from Taiwan a few days ago. I was very excited about it, because I liked this show after watching it off Youtube. My initial liking for the show was because of Jiro's involvment, but after finishing the show, I found it to be rather nice. The female lead, Ariel Lin, by far is the first cutie pie Taiwanese actress whom I actually liked (Ella aside, that is), all thanks to this show.

This DVD set was not cheap at all, together with the postage, it cost me slightly above S$100. I can't seemed to find any cheaper alternatives, unless I get the China-produced version, or second-hand copies. However, I do have much confidence in China-produced DVDs, except for those for Chinese opera shows. I had bought pop concert DVDs produced in China, and the quality were simply lousy. As for second-hand copies, many sellers are not willing to ship overseas, so it's not an option for me as well. No doubt the high price is a pinch for me, but then, being a person who's very into anything aesthetically nice, the packaging of the DVD set still won my heart.

Having said so, I'm not about to start collecting Taiwanese idol drama DVD sets; my cupboard specially reserved for my CDs, VCDs and DVDs is already full, and overflowed to my TV shelf. If I were to start collecting, I guess I would need to allocate a room for all these stuffs instead! Or maybe in future I'd really need one, if possible, since I just can't stop buying Chinese opera VCDs!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hana Kimi in "Meng Lijun" Parody part 2

Due to immense positive feedback on my Hana Kimi in "Meng Lijun" parody (actually, only two!), I've decided to follow up with a part 2. However, as I do have have inspiration for the "script" yet, I'll only post up the "cast photos" of the other 2 actors, Tang Yuzhe and Yang Haowei. Once again, whatever posted here are for sheer fun, and not meant to take place in real life anytime soon!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hana Kimi in "Meng Lijun" Parody

My own take in Hana Kimi's "Meng Lijun" parody! The below is my own version of "Meng Lijun", acted out by the cast of Hana Kimi. Please take note that this is not meant to be made into a real drama serial or anything!

花樣孟麗君 -- 游上林

孟麗君  -- Ella
皇甫少華 -- 吳尊
元成宗  -- 汪東城
皇甫長華 -- 楊皓惟
權昌   -- 謝和弦
太后   -- 唐禹哲


權昌  :(靜悄悄地從皇甫少華身後飄過)忠孝王,你怎麼在這裡一個人碎碎唸?
權昌  :忠孝王,我看你還是別去了!你去,只會給自己招來麻煩!我想,你應該入宮找皇后娘娘,她畢竟是你的胞姊,由她去通知皇太后;皇太后若出面阻止,那皇上怎樣也得給三分薄面,不敢亂來.



孟麗君 :(暗思忖)少華,請原諒我在金殿上不與你相認,畢竟,伴君如伴虎;我若承認我是的女的,皇上他不知道會如何降罪於我!因此,在我還沒找到對策之前,我是絕對不能讓別人接傳我的身分的!
元成宗 :(一邊走一邊偷看麗君一邊想)酈君玉啊,酈君玉!你可知道,寡人早就懷疑你是女的了;天地下怎麼可能會有這麼美貌的花樣少男嘛!如今看了你的畫像,真的好正耶!待會兒到了天香館,我一定要把所有的侍衛給支開,到時候,就只剩下我們兩個人;我會為你彈琴、吟詩,讓你看看高高在上的皇帝其實也是個心思細膩的多情男子!到那個時候,你一定會對我一見鍾情,而我就會獻上我那深情的一個吻……(陶醉的得意忘形)
孟麗君 :皇上,你怎麼了?你的表情怎麼有些奇怪?
元成宗 :(假裝若無其事)甚麼嘛!有嗎?沒有啊!呵呵……
孟麗君 :(暗思忖)皇上,不會是發現我是女的了吧?!不可能!我裝得這麼像,這麼有男子氣概,他怎麼可能會懷疑到呢?絕對不可能!絕對不不不可能!
元成宗 :酈丞相,你在碎碎唸些甚麼?
孟麗君 :(緊張地、故壓低嗓音)呵呵!皇上你真會開玩笑!我可是個男的耶,怎麼可能是孟麗君嘛!呵呵!
元成宗 :我只是說“像”,沒說“是”啊!怎麼,難道你心裡有鬼?
孟麗君 :?!?!


元成宗 :酈丞相,寡人念你對朝廷作出了許多貢獻,就賜你美酒一壿!
孟麗君 :(緊張地)皇上,下官酒量甚差,萬一醉倒了就不好了!
元成宗 :(含情脈脈地)沒關係,你醉倒了,有寡人在這裡陪你,照顧你!
孟麗君 :(更緊張地)這……這樣不好吧!你是君我是臣;哪有君照顧臣的道理?!
元成宗 :為了你,我甚麼都願意!我的酈愛卿!
孟麗君 :(退縮地)皇……皇上,你不會是有甚麼性向問題吧?!
元成宗 :(暗示地)就算是有吧,那也無所謂!不管是怎麼樣的酈丞相我都喜歡!來吧,我的君玉小親親!


孟麗君 :娘娘,我與皇上剛剛討論完畢,下官正想告退!


元成宗 :少裝蒜了!我想你應該有聽到風聲,說酈君玉就是孟麗君吧!


太后  :你們是在幹嘛?我大老遠就聽到你們的聲音,成何體統!
元成宗 :母后你可別聽她亂說!我可是“正港的男子漢”,不是甚麼性向混嘵的人!
太后  :你們不要爭吵了!這件事,由哀家處理.如果酈丞相是個男的,那皇媳就得向皇上陪不是;若酈丞相是女的,哀家就收她作義女!
元成宗 :(急忙地)母后……
太后  :(嚴肅地)嗯?不必多言,就這麼定了!


元成宗 :你們好!不行!我一定要想辦法阻止你們查明她的真正身分!


Apologies for only posting this up in Chinese, as I do not have the time to translate into English yet!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

World of Coincidence! Shanghai Yueju Opera and Singapore Xiangju Opera's "Romance Of The Carp Fairy"

This world is full of coincidence; our opera troupe is in the midst of rehearsing "Romance of the Carp Fairy", and I had news that Shanghai Yue Opera Company will be staging the same show (their version was the foundation of ours) on 26 - 28 Feb at Shanghai Yifu Stage!

This version of "Romance of the Carp Fairy", a revised edition, will be performed by Shanghai Yue Opera Company's "golden couple" Wang Zhiping and Zheng Guofeng. Wang Zhiping is my favourite Yueju opera actress, and it was this same show which made me like her alot. She acted well in the title role of the Carp Fairy; not only did she had to act and sing, but also do fighting sequences towards the end of the show. Zheng Guofeng is a good Xu-style actress as well, and although I do like her too, she's still second place to Qian Huili (also a Xu-style actress) in my heart.

Anyway, talking about these two actresses, they may be stars now, but they're still very passionate about their work. They're always the first to arrive at the rehearsal venue, and Wang Zhiping even start each day with 20 rounds of "yuanchang" (walking in operatic steps around the rehearsal grounds), even though she had injured her back while learning some stunts recently. I don't even do 2 rounds of "yuanchang" at my opera troupe! Not just that, the duo are quite particular in their rehearsals, and they can rehearse one song over and over again just to perfect their gestures and movements, as you can see from the clip here:

I really feel like flying over to catch them in action at Yifu stage, but alas, I do not have the time and money to do so. Hopefully the show will be available in VCD, so that I can still watch it off-stage with less regrets! More information of the show is available at my other blog.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Another Completed Piece of Work!

I'm so happy today, but it has got nothing to do with Fahrenheit nor Jiro nor Hana Kimi. It has got to do with my troupe's "Tragedy Of The Song Palace" performance in 2004; I've finally finished my DVD authoring work for the show, and made into a 2-disc DVD set complete with jewel case design and disc labels!

This is perhaps the work which took me the longest time to edit, all thanks to the video quality of the original footages, which were not up to my expectation. The lighting conditions captured on the mini DV tapes were simply too dark, and I tried to do some adjustments on the lighting in my video editing software. I've spent many months working on it, but gave up finally. Afterall, it's useless adjusting as my computer monitor wasn't calibrated, and whatever I do will not appear the same when played back on my DVD player. Then there was also the problem of too frequent angle switches in the original video footage. I don't know what was the rationale for the videographers for the show to keep switching from one angle to another within seconds in a show; for goodness sake this is not a MV filming! The angle switching was so frequent that it was simply an eyesore, and I had to substitute some scenes from video footages captured by our own crew. All these, together with the subtitling work, took me close to 2 years to complete, alongside other work committments and problems.

I can't wait to show my "masterpiece" to my fellow troupe mates later when I go for rehearsals; I haven't even told them about my completed work too! Although this piece of work took me too long a time to complete, it was nevertheless one of my most satisfied one. Whether the troupe decides to release the DVD officially or not is longer my main concern. The job satisfaction gained from completing this piece of work is good enough for me!