I've been following the work of Todd Boss, who has managed to make his way into my short list of favorite poets. Boss's work has impressed me over and over, and I am very excited about continuing to watch his progress in upcoming years.
Boss has recently released his debut solo poetry collection (he had released a collaborative effort previously) entitled Yellowrocket. In conjunction with that release, Boss will be busy making appearances all over the country, it seems. You can check out his schedule of events for 2009, and if you get the chance to see him somewhere in your area, don't miss it! You'll really enjoy hearing his work.
If Boss's schedule and yours don't quite seem to match, you might like to pick up a copy of Yellowrocket instead. You can read my review of it here, watch his animated poems here, or visit Boss's website for more information.
You can get tickets to shows at the Ke Center in Shanghai at their website. In 2009, there will be even more programs lined up for theatre lovers. You can catch more readings, more performances, and more lectures at the Ke Center, so just watch the website for details.
The Ke Center is an excellent place to support the arts, and to keep an eye on some of the up and coming talent in Shanghai. And the programs you will find there are generally quite good quality, and very enjoyable.
If you make your way to the Ke Center in 2009, keep a lookout for me! I'll be there from time to time, keeping up with what's new.
It is amazing to me to see what has been going on over the past few weeks in regards to the bad economy in the US. I haven't spent much time here (and am now on my way home), but I've heard nothing but bad news from family to family, all in regards to the bad economic situation.
Of course, there is always bound to be one exception, and in this case (as it often has been), the exception is the New York Yankees. In this bad economic situation, the Yankees have now committed $430 billion to 3 players this off season! (And that number might increase yet.) It is amazing the figures that this team is able to spend, even now when everyone else is tightening the belt.
During a few exhibition games that will open the season in 2009, tickets will roll back to the prices that were the norm at the opening of the old Yankee Stadium — that is 25 cents for the bleacher seats, with the expensive seats being just over $1. (During the season, some seats will sell for $2500 per game!) A friend of mine said that on that night you can expect everything else to be priced with an anticipation of what it will cost 100 years from now — $250 hot dogs and $500 beers. What can I say... he's a funny guy.
It is frustrating to a baseball fan to see the Yankees able to buy whatever success they enjoy, especially while everyone else is struggling just to make ends meet.
And, here's the really sick part.... the Yankees' payroll is actually going down in 2009, due to the completion of several big contracts in 2008. Ugh.
On December 27, you can enjoy the story of the boy who was named "most filial," Wu Xin. Of course, this only comes about after he has gambled everything away — including his own wife! And as if that isn't enough, he tries to sell his own mother too, and uses her supposed death as a way of making a little bit of extra pocket money.
If you'd like to see Wu Xin's story unfold, you might can still get tickets for the performance at the Esplanade Theatre. Performance time is at 8 pm.
On New Year's Day, there is a half marathon coming up in Houston. Someone we know is planning on joining in the event, and it has been fun reading along as she trains for it. I have been hearing her talk about her training, and hearing the milestones she hits is pretty exciting.
And, by the way, today is her birthday too! Happy Birthday. silken! And I hope the extra wisdom and experience gained in this extra year helps you while you prepare for the big event!
At NTU, there is an annual competition for Singapore's emerging talent. Impresario 2009 is coming soon to NTU's campus, and there will be more than $10,000 in prizes to be won!
Impresario has gained national recognition as one of the prime avenues for new talent in Singapore's music, dance, and performing arts scene. One of last year's participants in Impresario, Huang Jing Lun, has gone on to enjoy a measure of success in Taiwan.
You can sign up now to participate in the event. Who knows... maybe you'll get your shot at fame, just like Huang!
Last week when I was back in Singapore, I spent a day with some friends walking from the new Hort Park on Alexandra Road. We started out at the new place, and all of us found it very nicely put together.
From the Hort Park, we began our walk eastward, crossing the big bridge over Alexandra Road, and then continuing along on the elevated steel path constructed up amongst the tree tops. We walked on to Henderson Waves, a beautifully constructed wooden bridge that lets you descend to a point on Mount Faber, where you can continue the hike. (We did, anyway!)
The new parts of the path are really very nicely done, as is the Hort Park. I was impressed with all of the facilities, and was reminded of how good Singapore is at putting technology to work to allow Singaporeans to enjoy nature, even within the city. It is truly a city that exists in the jungle, instead of a city that has simply displaced the jungle. The "clean and green" image of Singapore is much more than just a stereotype, it is the reality. Seeing the way they've set up the Hort Park and the surrounding facilities made me feel very proud of my little island-garden home!
At the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, in the studio, you can catch the production of Days Living with an Airline Hostess. The show runs now through January 3. Performance time is 7:30 each night, and tickets begin at 100RMB.
You can catch a Chinese opera performance of The Dream of Han Dan on Saturday, 20 December at the Esplanade. This Yue opera piece will be staged at 8 pm, in the Recital Studio. It is produced by the Chinese Opera Institute.
Lu Sheng is a down and out scholar with dreams of fame, wealth, and power. He is on his way to the capital to sit for the exams that will begin him on the road toward achieving those dreams. As he makes his journey, he stops at an inn on an old Han Dan street, and there has an encounter that might just change his life.
Lu Sheng's dream in the inn is the last piece recorded in Tang Xian Zu's famous Four Dreams cycle. It should provide material for a very entertaining evening at the Esplanade on 20 December.
The performance will feature both English and Chinese subtitles. It is 105 minutes long, and there will be a 15 minute intermission.
I am a rock music fan, and have enjoyed discovering China's rock music scene over the past 7-8 years. Living in Singapore, there's not a very large rock scene, and most of the Chinese music here is very "pop" in sound. When the world of China's rock music opened up to me, I was very excited. There are several bands that I really enjoy, and have found that Chinese musicians do some very interesting things with instrumentation and style.
Cui Jian is known as the father of Chinese rock. I've recently read an article about him in a Chinese magazine, and came across this interesting piece on the web that I thought might be of interest to many readers here. Enjoy!
My present stay at home here in Singapore is a short one, just touching ground upon coming back from Shanghai, and then turning around to go to the US, it seems. Actually, I have about 10 days here, but it's just about over now, and has flown by quickly.
It has been good to be back, even briefly, getting to see my friends and family here before heading off to see friends and family in my other home. It's also been good to sit down and have some good local food! I always miss it when I am away. I made sure to fill my menu over the past 10 days with things like laksa and carrot cake (the first meal back) tie ban dou fu at the coffee shop near my home XO fish noodles at Holland V (wow! delicious) naan at the Curry Garden (Turf Club) lots of home cooked curry that a friend brought by and plenty of home cooked meals at my godmother's house
I was pleased to see that the annual program of Dickens on the Strand continued in Galveston this past weekend, despite the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. It is good to see the community doing its best to move forward, and seeking to go on with life despite the fierceness of the recent storm.
A couple of years ago, I got to attend a concert by Juan Martin during the International Guitar Festival in Singapore. It was a great concert, and the location was really beautiful too. My sister's family was here, and we all went together and thoroughly enjoyed the evening out.
We are right in the middle of the International Guitar Festival here in Singapore this week. I am in the midst of a very hectic time, and have not gotten to attend any of the performances yet, but it is definitely something worth going to see, if you can.
This week at the DBS Auditorium, you can catch Italian guitarist Andrea Dieci (tonight) French guitarist Jeremy Jouve (Friday) Spanish guitarist Angel Romero (Saturday) Serbian guitarist Uros Dojcinovic (Sunday)
All shows begin at 8:00 pm. If I can get things together to attend either Saturday or Sunday, I will make my plans to be there too!
I've spent a little time over the past couple of days getting the new blog at Tai Shan together. I've just posted an index there that might be of interest to readers of this blog. It includes a long list of entries across the range of my blogs that are China-related. It was a little tedious to put together, but it is nice to have it all in one place now. (Even though I know it is not 100% thorough.)
I'll be back to my regular routine around here now, trying to post a little something every day.
Tai Shan, in Shandong province, is not only beautiful, but it is one of the most historic sites in China. Nearby Tai Shan is Qufu, the hometown of Confucius. And Confucius is just one of China's famous people to have climbed Tai Shan and engaged with the land from that perspective.
Tai Shan was the center of the imperial cult in China for about 2000 years. For this central role it has played in China's history and culture, it is classed a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The UNESCO website says of Tai Shan that "the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chinese artists and scholars and symbolizes ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs."
I've borrowed the name of Tai Shan for that of my newest blog, which is attached to the literary ezine Sloth Jockey. Visit my Tai Shan for some thoughts about my experiences in and with China.
It's the time of year when a lot of troupes are putting on the most famous Christmas play of all, A Christmas Carol. TNT Britain will be taking this show on the road (and over sea and air, I suppose). You can check their schedule here to see if there will be a show near you.
TNT Britain is one of my favorite performing groups. I have yet to see one of their performances miss. If you have the opportunity, do make sure and catch them when they come to your neighbourhood!
At the Esplanade, there will be a series of events to celebrate the upcoming holiday season (which will stretch through early Feb here in Singapore, with the Chinese New Year coming up too). You can have a look at the schedule here and see what might be of interest to you.
During my most recent stay in Shanghai, one of the highlights was getting to meet the group that does an Open Mic session for both poetry and music. I really enjoyed the interaction with the people who attend, and was very excited to get to know them a little.
The event has been held at Creek Kitchen for some time, but that is in the midst of change now. When I met with the gropu earlier this week, it was in a coffee house in Xin Tian Di, which is not exactly ideal for such a session. We didn't get to have a full Open Mic session, but did discuss possibilities for a new site to host the event.
I'll be away from Shanghai for a short while, but will keep up with developments via email. Watch for the details here, when they are finally ironed out.
One of my friends always tells me that "a smart rabbit has 3 holes," referring to my 3-homed life that I live at the moment. Today, the time has come again to make my trip from one home (Shanghai) to another (Singapore). I'll be heading back to Singapore, but as it turns out, it is going to be a shorter stay in that home than I expected. I've got to head to my third home on the other side of the globe within the next week or so, and so will be away from Singapore for a little longer than expected.
The stay in Shanghai this time around has been fun and profitable. I feel like my language skills advanced much more on this stay than I first thought they would. I've gotten to read a lot of Chinese poetry with my teacher, and gotten my feet wet with classical Chinese language. I can remember a day about 16 years ago when I told some friends that I'd like to learn the language to the level that I could read the literature in the original language. The two responded differently, one merely laughing, and the other saying very coolly, "That's ambitious." It was rather deflating, as I was just beginning to study the language then.
Well, here I am 16 years into my studies, and I still have not quite achieved that level of reading. But at least now, that goal is in sight. I am not there, but I am getting there. And I am very pleased that I have begun dabbling with translating Chinese poetry too, with varying degrees of success.
I'm presently planning my next stay in Shanghai to be sometime shortly after Chinese New Year. I'll do more language studies then, and probably sit for the HSK exam in May. My teacher thinks I could already pass level 8 with a good score, and probably achieve passing marks on level 9 too. I plan to put in a good deal of effort over the next 6 months and get to a place where I can actually manage a good score on level 9 by May 2009. (There, I said it... I guess that makes it official.) If I achieve that, I will be very, very pleased.
Looking back over the past year of splitting my time between Singapore and Shanghai, I have to say it has been time well spent, and a very good experience for me over all. I am very thankful I have been able to do this — it is something that seemed so unattainable at one time, but turned out to be so natural when the time arrived and it was done.