Category Archives: Asian

Fascinating blogging and cultural phenomenon

Day after day – as all users of will have noticed – the top blog post tends to come from one Alvin Lim whose Coolsmurf Domain is dedicated to East Asian pop culture, Korean especially.

200901061535141Alvin is certainly prolific. The latest to hover at the top of the WordPress hit parade is 15-Year Old Park Seo Jin Semi-Nude Photoshoot Draws Controversy. The range of comments (also prolific) includes some that go beyond airheadedness. Here, of course, one immediately thinks of the Bill Henson controversy of 2008 and the panic ensuing which in turn has affected the Australian government’s approach to Internet censorship, a matter much debated, as mentioned in the previous post. One of the offending images is on the right; all rather Calvin Klein.

I should add that Alvin does not have to have words like “nude” in his titles to attract readers. Clearly Korean pop culture is a very big phenomenon.

I find all this fascinating as evidence both of the amazing diversity of our world and its opposite tendency towards homogenisation. Or perhaps of the hybrid world we are seeing emerge.

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Posted by on January 8, 2009 in Asian, blogging, generational change, multiculturalism, other blogs, pluralism, www


Beijing Olympics: ‘Ethnic’ children revealed as fakes in opening ceremony

Beijing Olympics: ‘Ethnic’ children revealed as fakes in opening ceremony – Telegraph. Now that we are shocked by this…


…and the fake firework footprints and the lip synching little girl, let’s all pause and consider…




…and dressing kiddies up as ethnic minorities…



No fakery among us, eh!

The Opening Ceremony was an outrageously extravagant show when all is said and done, put together by a great movie director, Zhang Yimou. Now we may well question the extravagance, and have no doubt about the propaganda purpose of the whole thing. On the other hand, the 5,000 years of tradition we saw displayed so proudly and so brilliantly is no fake, and that we do well to recall.

We would never orchestrate “reality” for the TV, would we? Make sure you visit the site linked to the following…


Of course, the contrived passage of the Olympic Torch through a sanitised, cordoned off, and beaten down Lhasa was, no doubt, an obscenity…


Posted by on August 16, 2008 in Asian, Chinese and China, Olympics 2008, weirdness


Tune for a peaceful night

Played on the guqin, pronounced goo tchin.

That’s a 3,000 – 5,000 years old tradition you are seeing there. In other words, instruments like these were around before David was playing his harp, and even before when Tutankhamen was still alive…

Think about that.

The following video also features the Chinese zither, or gu zheng (goo djeng).

Poem of the peaceful garden.

Mind you, here in Oz we may even go older, back to before Noah, before there was even a Creation, if you are silly enough to believe some fundamentalists…

You did see them in the Olympic Opening Ceremony the other night — all of the above in fact; the instruments, if not the individual artists.


Glue Sniffing Among Street Children | The Pakistani Spectator

Yes, out there beyond the politics the world’s real problems go on, don’t they? Just happened on Glue Sniffing Among Street Children | The Pakistani Spectator.

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Posted by on July 21, 2008 in Asian, current affairs, humanity, South Asian


ninglun’s dvds – Videos about Doctor Who, Bloody Sunday, Swimming Upstream…

That VodPod, which also lives on  Floating Life Apr 06-Nov 07, gives some clues about the DVDs I currently have out from Surry Hills Library.

BriefEncounterPoster 1. Brief Encounter

What can you say? Of course it is brilliant, but also such a study of how mores and class attitudes have changed since it was made. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again.

2. Five Graves to Cairo

This Billy Wilder movie was made the year I was born, so that is kind of appropriate.

A British tank commander (Franchot Tone) survives a battle with Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the North African desert. He finds sanctuary in a small desert hotel owned by Farid (Akim Tamiroff). The staff consists of just Mouche (Anne Baxter), but is augmented by “Davos”, the identity that Corporal John Bramble assumes. At first hostile and cynical, Mouche gradually falls in love with the newcomer.

Complications arise when the Germans take over the hotel to use as headquarters for Field Marshal Rommel (Erich von Stroheim). Davos is mistaken by the Germans for one of their local spies and he makes use of this fortuitous mistake to steal some vital military information, the locations of the “Five Graves to Cairo”, hidden buried fuel dumps prepared before the war for the conquest of Egypt. He takes that knowledge to the British, who use it to thwart Rommel’s plans.

When Bramble returns in triumph to the hotel, he is devastated to learn that the Germans had executed Mouche in his absence because she wouldn’t stop saying that the British would be back. He takes the parasol he had bought for her, something she had always wanted, and uses it to provide shade for her grave.

A contemporary review from The New York Times (May 27, 1943) is rather amusing.

It’s a good thing the German armies and Field Marshal Rommel in particular had been chased all the way out of Africa before “Five Graves to Cairo” opened at the Paramount yesterday, else the performance by Erich von Stroheim of the much-touted field marshal in it might have been just a bit too aggressive for the comfort of most of us… 

Completely out of key with the performance of Mr. von Stroheim is the rest of “Five Graves to Cairo.” For otherwise it is simply an incredible comedy-melodrama—yes, comedy is what we said—about a British tank-corps corporal who gets left behind in Sidi Halfaya (when the British retreated last June), poses as a loyal German agent in the flea-bag hotel which Rommel’s staff occupies, learns the amazing secret of German supply depots set lip before the war across the desert—and then escapes with that secret back to the British lines. This remarkable information (it says here) permitted the rout of the Axis forces at El Alamein.

As though this fanciful story weren’t sufficiently hard to take, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, a couple of old-hand Paramount wags, have dressed it up with shenanigans which have the flavor of fun in a haunted house. Akim Tamiroff plays an Egyptian innkeeper broadly and strictly for laughs, and Fortunio Bonanova is rung in as an Italian general of the opéra-bouffe type. With those two clowns in the picture, fetching laughs with smoke-house burlesque; with Franchot Tone playing the British corporal in a taut and muted style and with Mr. von Stroheim playing Rommel with a realism that chills the bones—not to mention a little side issue between Peter Van Eyck as a Nazi officer and Anne Baxter as an expatriate French maid — “Five Graves to Cairo” is probably the most conglomerate war film to date. It has a little something for all tastes, provided you don’t give a darn.

Today we might note the postcolonial aspects of the characterisation of “others”, especially the Egyptian, which while actually quite well done in its way (in my opinion) does bear some resemblance to the comic black people who populated movies in those days…

Nonetheless, it is a movie worth seeing.

3. The Crossing


This 1990 Australian movie is not half bad, actually. It features a much younger Russell Crowe (aged 25) and Danielle Spencer,  whom he went on to marry in 2003. That’s them in a still from the movie. The other male lead was Robert Mammone, last seen on TV in Underbelly.

I found the fact it was filmed in Condobolin and Junee most interesting, as it was a reminder of how those towns looked just before the years of drought, especially the countryside around Condobolin.

The movie is set in the Vietnam War era (late 1960s) on Anzac Day. It certainly took me back to the way people looked, dressed, and thought at the time I began my teaching career.

The Sydney Morning Herald critic Linden Barber reviewed it in 1990:

JUST lately, teen films seem to have been raised as the standard bearers of the mainstream end of the Australian film industry. It would be easy to construct a theory about this, arguing that it subconsciously reflects the nation’s own adolescence, its alliance of painful self-consciousness and freshness-cum-naivety.

On the other hand, perhaps a few producers have simply decided that teen movies are surefire earners.

The romantic drama The Crossing is certainly a noble effort, coming in several furlongs ahead of the artless The Delinquents, but its falls some way behind The Year My Voice Broke, the film with which it invites the most obvious comparison. Set over a period of 24 hours in a country town on Anzac Day, it’s based around a young lovers’ triangle, and nearly comes off. What prevents it from doing so is its erratic casting and a certain stylistic over-ambition.

Danielle Spencer and Russell Crowe display a touching tenderness as the lovers (along with the sophisticated pop soundtrack, they’re the best thing about the film), but Robert Mammone is shaky as Spencer’s ex-boyfriend, who has just returned to town, and some of the supporting roles are unconvincing. And while Jeff Darling’s AFI award-winning cinematography has some impressive moments (the opening scenes, filmed at a dawn Anzac service, are stunning), it soon becomes irritatingly over-stylised, too often flooding the action in the golden glow of a sugar cane commercial.

The Crossing, then, is a little too eager to impress. Take the way it works in elements from Rebel Without a Cause and High Noon – a chicken-run car chase (done better in John Waters’s Cry Baby), an over-abundance of lengthening shadows and shots of clocks. It keeps drawing attention to its own cleverness.

Everything in the film is orchestrated to build to a grand climax, but director George Ogilvie doesn’t quite get the film’s rhythms right. A pity, because there’s a good-natured centre to The Crossing that makes you want to like it, despite the flaws.

“…But the true revelation is Crowe, in his first major film role. In most movies like this one, the boyfriend/fiancé/husband is usually either an overbearing jerk who causes the heroine much unhappiness, or an annoying sap whose constant declarations of love sound laughingly hollow. But when Johnny professes his love for Meg, it’s clear that he means it. And when he is threatened with losing her, he reacts not with physical violence or menace, but instead seems to unravel at his own emotional seams. Crowe takes a character that could have been one-note and creates one who is masculine and practical, yet sensitive enough to know that his way of life is in danger and there’s really nothing he can do about it.”

That’s a pretty fair review, especially the paragraph I highlighted. Nonetheless, I am glad I borrowed it.

4. Tears of the Black Tiger

To quote Wikipedia, linked at the title above: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 10, 2008 in Asian, Australia, dvd, movies


Wild China again — and a quiet Queen’s Birthday weekend

As I mentioned last week, ABC1 on Sunday nights is showing the BBC series Wild China. Last night:

Programme 5: Land of the Panda

A panda walking through the snowy bamboo forest ©Gavin Maxwell China’s heartland with its Han people is the centre of a 5,000-year-old civilization. This land contains the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and Beijing’s Olympic Stadium and is home to some of China’s most charismatic creatures such as the giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey, and golden takin.

China has undergone significant development in the past 50 years, bringing many environmental problems. The programme explores the deep, complex and often extraordinary relationship between the Chinese peoples, their environment and its creatures, and finds out what it means for the future of China.

So many of the places mentioned in this series M has been to; he has this deep trait where he needs, like his ancestors, to go to the mountains or the wilderness. I think he has been to almost all the holy mountains of China — not to mention Everest.

Otherwise a quiet one in a fairly damp Surry Hills.
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Posted by on June 9, 2008 in Asian, Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, M, personal, Sirdan, Sunday lunch, Surry Hills, TV


Some of life’s little ironies — well, not so little…

Most others will have forgotten, such is the short-term memory loss in our world of blogs and instant media and information overload, but less than a year ago we had a Prime Minister named John Howard, a Foreign Minister named Alexander Downer, a visit from George W Bush, an Immigration Minister named Kevin Andrews, and our very own international Islamist Terrorist investigation into one Doctor Haneef. My memory is online and uncensored of course: here.

Now we open up the Sydney Morning Herald to read:

LESS than a year after he was locked up in Brisbane as a suspected terrorist, Mohamed Haneef has shared a podium with the Dalai Lama at an anti-terrorism conference in India.

Which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.

The Indian doctor, who was arrested and then cleared of terrorism charges last July, told young Muslims across the world to beware, because they have been typecast as terrorists.

“I am a living example of how the menace of terrorism has affected innocent lives and the phenomenon of how Muslims are stereotyped as being terrorists or sympathisers of terrorists whether they are guilty or not,” he said.

Dr Haneef was a guest at a conference in New Delhi on Sunday organised by the Jama Masjid United Forum, an Islamic organisation in India that aims to “eradicate the root cause” of terrorism.

It was also addressed by Islamic leaders and Indian ministers and MPs.

Dr Haneef told the conference that the “entire world” was watching Muslim youths. “I am here not as an individual but as a representative of innocents who are victims of terrorism,” he said…

The Dalai Lama used his speech to strongly condemn terrorism, but called for “unbiased initiatives” to combat it. He said it was wrong to malign any one religion because of terrorist acts. The Tibetan spiritual leader also said India’s tradition of religious tolerance was a role model for the world.

However, that tolerance has been tested by a devastating terrorist bomb attack in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state, three weeks ago. The series of blasts, which killed 60 people and injured about 200, have been blamed on Muslim extremists.

After the attack an influential conservative Muslim seminary in India, the Darool Uloom Deoband and its political arm, Jamiat-i-Hind, issued a “fatwa” against terrorism. The 150-year-old institution, which influences thousands of smaller Islamic schools across the subcontinent, issued the fatwa at a meeting attended by thousands of clerics and students in Delhi.

Moving on to China, we may reflect that this being June it is nineteen years since the events of Tiananmen Square. Much has changed in China since then, but much hasn’t. As I have mentioned before, I have met quite a few people who were in China at that time, including eye witnesses of Tiananmen, and of related events: M was such an eye witness in Shanghai where he saw the once almost equally famous events that occurred at Shanghai railway station. I have met one of the leaders of the Tiananmen protests. So I think I know about it, and I know the Chinese government continues to lie about it, and continues to have a bad record in many areas. On the other hand, I know also that the actions of the Chinese government (and people) in relation to the recent and ongoing earthquake tragedy in Sichuan have been utterly commendable, especially in contrast to the uniformed dickheads who run Burma — though we must question whether the system, or corruption, subverted building codes to make the Sichuan tragedy worse in the first place. (By the way, I still say “Burma” because the name “Myanmar” is the brainchild of those uniformed “leaders” and excludes parts of the Burmese population.)

The Sydney Morning Herald remembered today:

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Posted by on June 4, 2008 in Asian, Australia, Chinese and China, current affairs, events, human rights, Islam, John Howard, M, memory, peace, South Asian, terrorism


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