Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken

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Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken

In the world of Taiwanese street food, not all are made equal. In fact, one of my favourite kinds remains popcorn chicken, a variety of deep fried chicken with the subtle addition of Chinese five spices. I had it in Montreal (in Jason Lu‘s restaurant, Lu Mama), and had it too when I was in the town of Kenting and Taipei).

Like anything, it’s more rewarding when you do it yourself. Making popcorn was surprisingly simple. You cut up some chicken (four thighs) and mix an egg, dark soy sauce, honey and cooking wine. Mix into another bowl of mostly flour and five spices. Add salt for taste. Then go ahead and deep-fry in a wok or whatever. It’s best at low heat, so not to roast the coating. In fact, my recipe is vastly inspired by this one that I found on the Internet.

Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken

Fryin' big-time - Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken

Some quick veggies - Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken

A historical tour of Montreal Chinatown

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Chinatown Historical Tour - Summer 2008
Palais des congrès esplanade

A friend of mine, Trevor Fraser, organised a historical tour of Chinatown last summer for a few of us. Starting at where the Palais des congrès plaza currently is, he explained that the Catholic Centre on Viger was built after the city signified that they were going to destroy the church on De la Gauchetière and Jeanne-Mance. Of course, the church is still where it should be, as the city reversed its decision, but the Centre was built anyways and still used today.

Chinatown Historical Tour - Summer 2008

On our way there, we stopped by a strip of buildings facing the infamous Guy-Favreau building, which was constructed at the cost of a block of Montreal Chinatown (as seen on Radio-Canada’s digital archives website).

Back on De la Gauchetière, we noticed the names of the people/families that built the houses, on panels holding on top of the buildings.

Trevor Fraser
Trevor Fraser

Here are notes (Google Docs format) that Trevor provided us with.

CCTV streaming on the Web free of charge

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It’s one thing to work in the web media industry, but it’s another to actually embrace the web as your *only* source of domestic televisual news…

I was at first going to look into Kylin TV, but realized that some of the channels that I was eyeing, namely China’s Central Television, or CCTV, was in fact available on the web.

Direct media link: mms://live.cctv.com/cctv_live9

There’s even a P2P version, made by Haier, usually the world’s fourth-largest white goods manufacturer.

The links here previously were for CCTV-9, the English version of CCTV, but you can in fact watch CCTV-4, the international channel in Chinese as well, live streaming. However, it’s choppy compared with CCTV-9.

Wu Jianmin on CCTV-9 (web streaming)

Frankly, CCTV-9 feels kind of amateurish at times (most of the time), but is a very interesting view of China and the world from China. For instance, right now, they are showing an interview (entirely in heavily-accented, but accurate, English) with Wu Jianmin, a former China ambassador to France between 1998 and 2003. To speak of Deng Xiaoping’s forward attitude with foreign powers, “In Rome, you do things like Romans”, says the former ambassador. It has the feel of an infomercial, but I think at least you can get the official Chinese govt perspective first-hand.

Don’t expect much criticism – maybe that’s what it lacks in quality compared with Hong Kong or Taiwan-based channels.

PS: The current host James Chau‘s (周建成) portfolio website is… alarming. Another host, Jennifer Hsiung, a Toronto native, recently did a collab around the Beijing Olympics with Radio-Canada International.

Obama nomme Steven Chu au poste-clé de secrétaire à l’énergie

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Steven Chu
Photo: Associated Press

Le Prix Nobel de physique en 1997, Steven Chu a été nommé Secrétaire à l’Énergie par le président-élu des États-Unis, Barack Obama. Né à St-Louis d’immigrants chinois, Chu est présentement prof à l’Université de Californie à Berkeley, en plus d’être directeur du Laboratoire national Lawrence Berkeley. On dit de lui qu’il est un partisan des sources d’énergie renouvelable et du développement durable.

(Voir autobio Nobel | nouvelle Reuters)

“Up the Yangtze” wins Best Documentary at Golden Horse Awards

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Yung Chang
Up the Yangtze Director Yung Chang

Up the Yangtze by Montreal production company EyeSteel Film, the National Film Board of Canada and Montreal-based filmmaker Jason Yung Chang (張僑勇) won the 2008 Golden Horse for Best Documentary this Saturday in Taichung, Taiwan. Golden Horses are generally considered the most prestigious film prizes awarded in the Chinese-speaking world.

Coalition, prorogation et élection dans les médias sino-montréalais

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Harper's last struggle 哈珀的最后挣扎

Les médias en langue chinoise de Montréal n’y échappent pas. Même mon site de cartes électorales Google Earth a eu une pointe de 60 visiteurs par jour, alors qu’en général y’en a pas plus que 10 depuis la fin de l’élection fédérale.

J’ai ramassé cette copie du Sept Days publié jeudi et qui titre “哈珀的最后挣扎”, ou Le dernier combat de Harper. Et comme dans les autres médias de la province, la campagne provinciale prend le champ.

En arrivant à la radio pour enregistrer mon segment hebdo, Yvonne, la co-animatrice de l’émission cantonaise en direct du mercredi soir m’accueillit en disant qu’ils avaient décidé de couvrir la crise dans leur émission. Billy et Yvonne ont finalement passé 30 minutes en ondes à résumer la situation. Je me suis mouillé avec ma prédiction qu’on allait en élections après le dépôt du budget en fin janvier.

Le vocabulaire employé m’a complètement perdu, puis tout ce que j’ai retenu finalement fût 國會 (国会), ou littéralement “nation assemblée” (donc parlement). On est sensé s’en reparler la semaine prochaine…

12th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

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Toronto Reel Asian film festival

Three weeks ago (Nov 13-16), I was in Toronto to attend the 12th Reel Asian Film Festival held at various locations in downtown Toronto, but notably at University of Toronto’s Innis College. I was expecting something as big as Fantasia, with 100+ movies over 20 days, but of course it’s only five days. Even with these pumped-up expectations, I wasn’t disappointed by the movies that I saw.

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival poster 2008

On the first night, I went to see Confessions of a Salesman, a must-see if you were interested in Chinese-Canadianess. It’s a “fictionalized autobiography” that evoke the struggles of growing up in Canada while being of Chinese origin and all the “baggage” it involves. Amusing, although it is definitely indie in format.

The other movie that I saw that night was the excellent Hansel and Gretel, a Korean flick that I wasn’t planning to see originally. It’s one of those movies that are terrifying just because it starts so nicely and cleanly, with beautiful care made on details of the storybook house where the plot slowly reveals itself.

Super Cop World at the Toronto Reel Asian Festival

At the window of Innis Town Hall, there was this video montage (see close-up) made of footage from Jacky Chan movies and captures of the first Mario Bros. It’s called Super Cop World, by Eric Siu (Hong Kong, 2005).

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival

On Friday, I saw a Thai movie called Wonderful Town that I should have well not paid 10$ for. Maybe director Aditya Assarat has won lotsa prizes before, and maybe the movie was beautiful and melancholic (the story happens in a town devastated by the 2004 tsunami), but the love story is totally one that is drama-less, just some really straightforward and almost insignificant one (unworthy of a film). November is not a good month for watching such movies.

Toronto Reel Asian film festival audience

Saturday night was a lot more interesting. I went to see Flower in the Pocket: a pretty weird movie on a dad and his two sons, living separate lives in a small town in Malaysia.

Then, the feature of the night: West 32nd. Sold-out at first, the box office managers “found” some tickets on the day before, just when I was making my attempt to buy a few for myself and friends. Director Michael Kang answered questions, and revealed that he was working on an adaptation of Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese.

Finally, I stayed behind to see late-night shorts assembled under the title of “Confessional”. One was Nine Confessions, a Made in Hong Kong political piece on hostage taking in the war in Iraq, co-sponsored by Videotage and made by a collaborative effort called Project Big Bang.

Deserts Chang 張懸

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Deserts Chang

Semaine du 2 décembre 2008 / Week of December 2nd, 2008

1. 寶貝 (baobei / baby)
2. My Life Will
3. Outro

Deserts Chang, who I knew by the Chinese name of Zhang Xuan, is one of the first “indie” musicians I listened to, back in ’06 I think. Her style is in fact standard alternative rock (standard coffeehouse style, says Wikipedia).

In fact, the funny thing is that I assumed her name to be “Desserts” until I payed attention when I visited Taiwan to actually see her perform live at Spring Scream 2008. If you listen to 寶貝 “Baobei”, her hit song, you can definitely believe that she definitely has well chosen her English name.

I said on air that the songs tend to be tougher, rougher, but I think it actually depends on the pieces that you listen to. The ones that I personally like are those tougher, rougher ones, more alternative than pop. “Outro” for instance, is one of them.

After her first album in 2005, independently-produced, she made two more in 2006 and 2007 with Sony BMG. That’s probably when a lot of people think she sold out… as if selling out was a choice to be successful in the Chinese-speaking music universe.

Nonetheless, she came to the “small” Spring Scream in Kenting, and I had no idea that she was performing until seeing the festival booklets (the website had originally listed her under her Chinese name, obviously, and as “DESERTS AND BAND” in English). The show was fine, but it was nothing really memorable like some other performers that night (notably the 88 Guava Seeds). It was still pretty enjoyable to hear that obscure indie music that you had been hearing for two years and finally got to listen live… (The Taiwanese however never have to come to Montreal to see Stars, becoz they go to them!)

My Little Airport – (Northern Europe is our last stop) & 窮人賣屎忽

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Kid leaning outside the tram window

The My Little Airport of Hong Kong have two new songs. Get the mp3s from their website.

The first one is called 北歐是我們的死亡終站 , or “Northern Europe is our last stop (death terminal)”, and is about young people discussing suicide and concluding that going to Finland to freeze themselves to death is the most romantic. (The lyricist is not Nicole, but 阿雪?)

The second is a self-ad. MLA does gigs for money and this is an advert! “Despite the world economic crisis […], we are cheap, well-worth your money”, say the lyrics. (Edit 2008-12-03: It actually means “poor people selling their asses”.)

Music videos below the cut.

Continue reading “My Little Airport – (Northern Europe is our last stop) & 窮人賣屎忽”

Snapline / No Beijing

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Snapline, by Cisco Salvado Sebastiao
Snapline, by Cisco Salvado Sebastiao

1. “Song #3
2. “Song #4

The songs for Snapline were from a compilation called No Beijing, which cannot be found anywhere on Internet (the English one, at least), except on the Rock in China Wiki.

Snapline must be a fun bunch, as their first and only album so far was quoted by My Little Airport’s p in their hit “When the party is over, I miss my dear pornstar”, referring to Snapline’s own “Party is over, pornostar”, the name of that first and only album. I didn’t listen to the whole album – just bits and pieces over at their MySpace and Last.fm page. It might be possible to get their stuff over at iTunes, but I didn’t check.

In the Beijing scene, they are not *that* marginal, as crowds give worship status to their drummer (or is it guitarist?) Li Qing, also a band member of Carsick Cars, *the* biggest act in Beijing rock right now (or is it yesterday’s?). Snapline are with D-22, the shrine of rock bands in Beijing, close to Tsinghua ‘n Beida – surely the hippest area in Beijing for young people to hang out. (Their bass player is also on Carsick Cars, say the official webpage)

They released their album with Maybe Mars (Bing masi), the same label that released albums for Joyside and Carsick Cars, and obviously led by D-22 owner Michael Pettis who makes a living teaching and analyzing China’s financial markets over at Peking University (Beida).

What kind of music? Probably what you call post-punk. Snapline does have a sound that differentiate them from other known bands in the scene. They have (or had) two on their MySpace which starts with their leader going “Yi Er San Si…”, but the one that I like the most is , and unfortunately no longer on the MySpace.