27 December 2008

Popsicles in Paris

A while back I blogged about a 1951 Coca Cola ad that used an image of globalization. Now here's a song about globalization from 1964. The little I can find out about Popsicles in Paris is that it was written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick for the show To Broadway With Love. I came across it as a version by the excellent J's With Jamie, posted on the WFMU blog. Since the song doesn't show up on allmusic.com, that may have been one of very few recordings made. I have transcribed the lyrics myself, which was fun except for one annoyingly difficult to catch word at the end of the 'Strudel in Seattle...' line.

Popsicles in Paris, shish kebab in Shanghai
Sweet potato pie in Rome
Crackerjack in Cairo, curry in Caracas
Alka-Seltzer back at home

The other night I took a flight and had me a ball
Flying high and low
Around the world I found the world like man is it small
Smaller than we know

Strudel in Seattle, jello in [Vermichi??]
That's the way the world is now
What about tomorrow? Which way will it go?
Smaller, smaller until 'Wow!'

19 December 2008

Shuzai goes dating

Click to image if you read Chinese!
Back in the day, Cantonese opera and Hong Kong popular music were pretty much the same thing. But in 1930, the owner of New Moon Records, Chin Kwong Yan, came up with something a bit different, recording an album of Cantonese melodies in an American dancing style. The recordings featured trumpet, trombone, saxophone, violin and piano and were played by a pick-up band from two Cantonese opera theatres. This is the songsheet for a song called Saujai Goes Dating, which was recorded by Wong Sau Lin, a Hong Kong comedian who was known for his language play. We haven't actually heard this recording - New Moon recordings are almost impossible to find now. And because Chinese characters are read differently in different dialects, we don't know exactly how it was sung. But it looks like it was mainly Cantonese, with a few phrases from northern dialects thrown in. As you can see, there are also bits of pidgin English (chow chow = food, amah = maid, kamshaw = gift) and even a bit of pidgin French (com pan li vu = comment allez vous???). As far as we know this is the earliest example of a Cantonese song to include English in the lyrics (something that is now quite normal).

Here is Alice's translation. As the Chinese uses four syllable phrases, we've used some translator's licence to try to keep it four beats to the bar.

There is a girl, melon-seed face
She's in the east, I'm in the west
We are apart, what a pity
Call her right back, to see my face

You want honey, I want cents
Blow the whistle, blowing peep peep
Two houses TALKEE, choose a date

SHE WILL LOVE ME, she does love me
What's the trouble, it means WHAT FOR
April 24th, APRIL 24TH

GO TO PAREE, go to Paris
COM PAN LI VU, come over here
BEAUTIFUL DOLL, beautiful doll
Let me buy it, for you to see

WHO'S YOUR FATHER, who's your father?
He's my father, he's called BILLY
Your father-in-law, he's my daddy
He's got WHISKER, just like a sheep

He is stingy, STINGY FELLOW
POCKET EMPTY, empty pockets
THIRTY CENTS, buy a roast goose
And have a meal, don't be hungry

TOO MUCH CHOW CHOW, eat too much
Belly too small, what should I do?
Pray to sky god, he will bless me
Give us baby, as a KAM SHAW

GET ONE AMAH, hire a maid
Care for baby, grow up quickly
Wash milk bottles, don't break any
Close the door, CLOSE THE DOOR

If I sing wrong, please forgive me
No education, I don't know much
Listen to this, just for a laugh
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Happy New Year

The song appeared in the September 1930 issue of New Moon Collection and is reproduced in Andrew Jones (2001) Yellow Music: Media Culture and Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age (Duke University Press). The original is in the Harvard-Yenching Library.

17 December 2008

Harmonious family

At the conference I presented a survey in which HK secondary schoolkids reported that they spend an average of 64 hours a week using different kinds of media devices (which means they probably use more than one device at the same time, or they are not very accurate in estimating the time they spend on different activities). They also reported that they spent a lot more time chatting with their family and friends than their teachers did. When I came to present, there was a surprise slide in my Powerpoint. This is from Apple Daily last Friday - "When everybody has their own game console, MP3 player and mobile phone, there will be no arguments".

Painting the eye on a lion

Not much here recently because I have been pretty much occupied with our conference on popular culture in education. It's over now and was a great success with contributions from wonderful people from all over the world. This is me enacting a bit of HK popular culture of my own. The Hong Kong Tourist Board was kind enough to send along a lion dance team to open the conference and I am painting the eyes on the lion to bring it to life.

07 December 2008

Rebecca Pan x at17 x Jazz

Rebecca Pan now has more than 50 years in Hong Kong showbiz, starting out at the Showboat in North Point in 1957 as one of the first nightclub singers to build up an English repertoire. This weekend she did three shows with at17, which meant that either she would be strumming on a guitar in her jeans or at17 would have to dress up a bit. Which they did, and the less said about that the better. Ellen sang a Cole Porter song called 'Your the Top' (grammatically more correct than the original?) and Eman sang quite a few. Rebecca sang all her old hits and they all got together and did a Latin rock out. Alice reminded me that I always complain about about the talking that breaks up the rhythm of a lot of shows. Rebecca did talk quite a bit and so did Eman. As far as I remember Ellen didn't say a word, which I liked a lot. Chet Lam was guest. Great show for Rebecca and also for 82-year-old Berry Yaneza, who was cheered every time the trumpet touched his lips and for Joey Villaneuva, who showed that he is an incredible jazz guitarist.

22 November 2008

Kids today

"My generation grew up obsessed with Western rock music and the counterculture, all that coolness and heaviness and authenticity. In comparison all the Japanese rock bands were just leaden imitators. People talk about Flower Travellin' Band today, but how many people would honestly choose them as being more original than Led Zeppelin? They might have added a few Oriental flourishes, but Zeppelin were far cooler. We had so little information that we always had to use our own imagination. I'd see photos of a stack of Marshall amps and imagine they were all turned up to ten. I never realised that most of them were just spares. I imagined that they played at crushing volume and I'd try to do the same. Or I'd see some guitarist whirling their guitar around and imagine that they played like that through their whole set. When I picked up a guitar I thought that was how you had to play it. Our whole rock culture began from those kinds of misconceptions. But those misconceptions and the fantasies they allowed to exist have almost all gone now. Kids today grow up on J-pop and hardly listen to any Western music at all. In both a good and bad way, they've lost that yearning for something other."

Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple in The Wire October 2008.

02 November 2008

Joe Chen

Joe Chen, one time leader of The Menace, died this week long before he should have done. The Menace were in the second wave of Hong Kong's late '60s pop bands and are remembered for Strawberry Sundae, a self-composed, catchy little piece of bubblegum. Joe went on to record several albums of his own and worked in the record industry for many years after he stopped singing. He was also a DJ and had a show on RTHK until he fell ill a few months ago.

I don't know whether the English press has picked this up, but there is a nice spread in this morning's Apple Daily. Joe was one of the first people we interviewed a couple of years ago for our book on Hong Kong English pop music and he was kind enough to give us a few of his own snapshots for publication. Below is Joe at Commercial Radio and a shot of The Menace outside City Hall.

01 November 2008

Life On Mars

"All the English-lanague songs I grew up with, I had no idea what they were singing about. So it was all about the power, the expresson. Michael Jackson had a really strong expression. His dancing, his movement, his songwriting, his harmonies, his musicianship, he is incredible. Nobody in the favelas of Brazil could understand a word he says. But the feeling was there. We identified with him." Seu Jorge from Guardian News & Media in the South China Morning Post 26 October 2008.

Jorge has an album out next with covers of Roy Ayers's Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Michael Jackson's Rock With You. This is him doing David Bowie's Life On Mars.

27 October 2008

Krispy Kreme doughnuts since 1937...

..or in Hong Kong since 2006. Today at least two of my pop culture and education project colleagues are heartbroken at the closure of Krispy Kreme Hong Kong. No more happy scenes like these.

22 October 2008

Ofra Haza?

And here is Ofra Haza singing Deliver Us in the Cantonese version of The Prince Of Egypt. Or is it? Apparently, she sang 17 of the 21 language versions, but opinion is divided on whether she sang this one or not. The majority think not, but if they are right, who is this Cantopop diva who can fool so many people into thinking she is Ofra Haza?

In A Far Away Land

A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about Paul Robeson singing Chee Lai in Mandarin and English. Here is John Denver singing In A Far Away Land, a traditional Qinghai folk song written by Luo Bin Wang, in Mandarin at a concert in Australia. Why?

21 October 2008

Try my breast

Here is an interesting case of the politicization of language... This is Saturday's Apple Daily having great fun at the expense of Gary Chan Hak Kan. At 32, Gary is the youngest member of the HK Legislative Council elected in September on the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) ticket. And what better way to start his Legco career than tell the world that he will 'try his breast'. In fact, that is an easy enough mistake to make under pressure. There is no 'r' sound in Cantonese (a word like 'friend' becomes 'fen' in Cantonese), so Cantonese speakers tend to put them into English words where they are not really needed. But because Gary Chan is an irritating young upstart pro-China politician, who was eased into an almost guaranteed Legco seat ahead of his elders and betters, Apple Daily can still get some milk out of his English more than a month later. As a native speaker of English, I really shouldn't join in the fun. The adventurous hedgehog, on the other hand, says he deserves everything he gets.

19 October 2008

Chee Lai!

My last post was about what I believed to be the first English version of a Mandarin hit song. Today we had tea with a group of Hong Kong music fans and, thanks to Louis Lee, I now know better. In 1941, Paul Robeson made a three-disc album with the title Chee Lai! Songs Of New China. This included the song Chi Lai! (Arise!) sung first in Mandarin and then in English. Here is the English lyric.

Arise! You who refuse to be bond slaves!
Let's stand up and fight for liberty and true democracy!
All the world is facing the change of oppression!
Everyone who fights for freedom is now crying:
Arise! Arise! Arise!
All of us with one heart, with the torch of freedom, March On!
With the torch of freedom, March On! March On! March On and On!

The song may be better known as The March Of The Volunteers - tune by Nie Er and lyrics by Tian Han - written in Shanghai in 1934 and used as the theme song for the patriotic movie Sons And Daughters In A Time Of Storm. It is even better known as the national anthem of the People's Republic of China.

From what I have been able to find out, the recording came about when Liu Liangmo, director of the Shanghai YMCA, came to the USA and looked up Robeson as a likely candidate to sing some Chinese resistance songs. The album they produced had two songs by Robeson (the other being Song Of The Guerillas) and four by a Chinese chorus conducted by Liu. According to a Time review, although the songs were "not tuneful to Western ears", they were "interesting and authentic examples of China's new mass music". The album also included a booklet with an introduction by Soong Ching-ling, widow of Sun Yat-sen.

Here's an MP3 of Chee Lai! (Arise!) at the Internet Archive.

17 October 2008

Rose, Rose, I Love You

I have been digging around in lost corners of the web today to see what I can find out about Rose, Rose, I Love You, one of the most popular Hong Kong songs over the last 50 or 60 years. The original was written by Chen Gexin and recorded by Yao Lee in Mandarin on EMI-Pathe in 1941. In pinyin the title is Méigui méigui wǒ ài nǐ, which translates accurately as Rose, Rose, I Love You. The story behind the English version, published in Time, starts in 1951 with an Australian DJ, Wilfrid Thomas, picking up a copy of Yao Lee's disc in a back street in Hong Kong and bringing it to London, where it caused such a stir that Chappell Music asked him to write English lyrics to it. Thomas gave the song a topical twist, turning it into a departing British soldier's lament for the girl he must leave behind in Malaya. There is also a clever twist on the Chinese title in the line Make way, oh make way for this Eastern rose.

In 1951, it was common for new songs to be recorded by several artists and hit the charts at the same time. Frankie Laine's version won the race for Rose, Rose, I Love You, reaching #3 on Billboard, although it may well have been intended as the B-side to Jezebel, which got to #2. There also versions by Billy Morrow (#8) on RCA and Gordon Jenkins on Decca (#21). The vocal on the latter was by Cisco Houston and I found a download at www.ciscohouston.com. With all this fuss, Columbia even decided to release the Yao Lee version, although for some reason they changed her name to Hue Lee.

Back in London, a different English version with the title May Kway (lyrics by John Turner) came out as a Petula Clark songsheet and reached #16 on the British songsheet charts. (Record charts didn't start until 1952). Petula Clark also recorded May Kway on Polygon, as did Billy Cotton on Fontana.

The Time article finished up by saying that Chappell were holding on to royalties for Miss Hue Lee "the song's unknown writers, now presumably somewhere in Red China". Well, Yao Lee and Chen Gexin were not exactly unknown, although Chen had used his pen name, Lin Mei, on the Shanghai recording. By 1951, they were both working in Hong Kong with Great Wall records along with many other musicians from pre-revolution Shanghai. But two years after the 1949 revolution, these were confusing times. Hong Kong audiences, it seems, were better informed about Western music and it wasn't long before they had taken both the Mandarin and English versions of the song to their hearts.

Frankie Laine, Yao Lee and Hue Lee scans from Wong Kee Chee's The Age of Shanghainese Pops. Gordon Jenkins from www.ciscohouston.com. Petula Clark from www.petulaclark.net.

12 October 2008

First celebrity brand...

This is Alice blogging...
Last time, it was mentioned that I found some bilingual advertisements from the 1920s...here is the proof.

This is a print ad in 'An illustrated family magazine' from 1929 Hong Kong.

'Watch Mei Lan Fong opera, please smoke Mei Lan Fong cigarette'

Mei Lan Fong 梅蘭芳 (1894-1961) was possibly the most famous Peking Opera star ever. He was so famous that he actually got his own cigarette brand! This may well be the first celebrity brand. I found this ad fascinating. The packaging was in English and the picture shows Mei Lan Fong in his stage costume. The picture was not just another beautiful lady, it was Mei in full costume: the decorative headpiece, the period costume and also the stage setting. Mei was even shown with his artistic feminine gesture.

09 October 2008

'If you like a good drink...

...just say Carlsberg', or 'Ga si ba' if you prefer Cantonese. This is another ad from the Ritz Ballroom Souvenir Booklet, 1951. I was thinking that this must be a pretty early example of bilingual advertising in Hong Kong, but now Alice tells me she is turning up similar ads from the 1920s.

What I love about this ad, though, is the way the guy can point at the English and Chinese names and never miss a beat on the dancefloor.

08 October 2008

20th Century Boys

Last Sunday morning, instead of doing something healthy in the open air, Kaz and I spent 142 minutes at the cinema watching 20th Century Boys. It is the first part of a trilogy and covers the first 5 books of Naoki Urasawa's 22 book manga series. It is also one of the biggest budget films ever made in Japan. When we came out, we agreed that it was a good movie but that there was rather a lot going on plot-wise, which was nice because, after all, he's 12 and I'm 53. Where we differed, maybe, is that he was probably a lot less interested in, and puzzled by, the T-Rex references than I was.

In brief, a gang of kids in sixties Japan build a 'secret base' in an abandoned field and write 'a book of prophecy', in which Tokyo is threatened by destruction by the evil genius 'Friend'. Years later, the prophecy starts comes true, just as it has been written, and the now middle-aged gang have no option but to avert the disaster, but not before Haneda Airport and the National Diet get blown up. Rock music squeezes its way into the plot through the leader of the gang, Kenji, who has been in a rock band, but now helps out in his family's convenience store. It's an excuse for a pretty good soundtrack as well as a couple of rock-mediated turning points - like the scene where Kenji picks up a guitar, unleashes a god-of-rock solo and decides that it's time for action.

Now the puzzle for me is really in the title, 20th Century Boys, which is based on an old T-Rex song, 20th Century Boy. Back in the secret base, the kids are tuned in to Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone on the transistor radio, which makes good sense if this is a movie about getting back the lost ideals of sixties rock. But T-Rex were not a sixties rock band and they seem just a little out of place here to me. For me, and I guess for a lot of people of my age, T-Rex was a disappointingly successful attempt to cash in on the talent that was going to waste commercially on Tyrannosaurus Rex. Tyrranosaurus Rex good: T-Rex bad. But maybe not in Japan. In another pivotal scene, Kenji storms into a performance by a Japanese post-glam rock band and screams 'This is not rock!'. Fine, I thought, except that the band look and sound a lot like T-Rex - at least to my eyes and ears.

And is this connected? A 1997 tribute album to Marc Bolan by 14 Japanese bands - all singing in English and most better than the originals in my prejudiced opinion. 20th Century Boy is track 3 and done by The Willard.

29 September 2008

Ritz Ballroom

This is the Ritz Ballroom from the cover of the booklet that gave us the Coca Cola ad in the last post. The Ritz Ballroom opened on 5 September 1947 on an empty lot next to the docks in North Point. It was the brainchild of one Mr C.F. Lee who arrived in Hong Kong in 1946 and found the nightlife sedate by comparison with the city where "the nights were so well taken care of by diverse amusements that people never realised night actually exists". The decor was opulent with red plush sofas, oil-paintings and air-conditioning and guests could choose between Chinese and French cuisine with fine wines. Musical entertainment was provided by Eddie Guzman And His Orchestra and singer Cora Ballecer. Eddie Guzman came over from Manila in 1948 and was among the first generation of Filipino musicians, who revolutionised the music scene in 1950s Hong Kong, just as they had in 1930s Shanghai.

Next to the Ritz Ballroom was the Ritz Garden, with Chinese gardens, restaurants, two swimming pools and miniature golf. We don't know when the Ritz closed (we are working on that), but Alice found out that her dad went to the ballroom in the late fifties when it was, he said, past its prime.

25 September 2008

Globalization 1951-style

This is my find for today from Hong Kong University library. I found it in an anniversary booklet for The Ritz Ballroom, a nightclub in North Point. It is the kind of image that is often used to show how transnational corporations use images of globalization to further their commercial designs by implying that consuming their products promotes global peace. Remember 'I'd like to buy the world a Coke'? This advertisement was published in 1951. A reminder that there is nothing new in the world?

24 September 2008

My Intimate Partner

According to local mythology, Cantonese pop started with Sam Hui in the early seventies. Before that it was either English or Mandarin. There is some truth in that, although there was a fair amount of Cantonese pop in the fifties and sixties in movies and released on small independent labels. It is just that it is hard to track down, partly because it was, and still is, held in such low esteem. So this CD compilation of sixties movie songs released by Fung Hang in 1997 was a good find for me.

For some reason, a lot of Cantonese movies had English titles in those days, even though they didn't have English subtitles. So we can translate the title of this CD as My Intimate Partner, the English title of a black and white Cantonese movie starring Patrick Tse (left). Patrick Tse, who is the father of Cantopop star Nicholas Tse doesn't actually sing on this compilation. The others do. They are Connie Chan, Liu Kee and Josephine Siao.

Here is the tracklisting, lovingly translated into English by Alice (if you appreciate it, please visit Hedgehog Adventures and leave a friendly comment!).

1. Eighteen Year-old Girls Are As Beautiful As Flowers - Connie Chan & Liu Kee
2. Love Flower Blossoms - Rowena
3. Fragrant Durian - Lee Po Yin & Man Chin Shiu
4. Trouble-free Youth - Josephine Siao
5. A Young Girl's Loving Heart - Josephine Siao
6. Dreaming of Chao - Connie Chan & Cheung Ching
7. China Brother - Cheung Kam Cheong
8. Ladykiller - Connie Chan
9. My Loving Child - Connie Chan
10. Can't Forget You - Connie Chan & Liu Kee
11. It's Hard To Be A Daughter-in-law - Connie Chan & Cheung Ching
12. The Joy Of Study - Connie Chan & Nancy Sit
13. My Lover Is You - Josephine Siao, Fan Lee & Au Kei Wei
14. Keep The Mountain Green - Josephine Siao, Fan Lee & Au Kei Wei
15. Two Flying Swallows - Josephine Siao, Fan Lee & Au Kei Wei

Tracks 1, 10 & 12 are from one of the classic sixties youth movies, Girls Are Flowers. And, yes, track 12 really is about the joy of study. It's also a kind of variation on Do-Re-Mi from The Sound Of Music, which is often used to teach basic music in western schools. This song was was playing in the car the other day while I was giving a friend a ride to work. She turned up the volume and said it was a song she remembered from her childhood. As she put it, the song "urges the youth to be diligent in their studies".

22 September 2008

The Underground Compilation #1

This blog is loosely linked to a book I am writing with Alice Chik on Hong Kong English popular music. I want to mention The Underground Compilation #1 here because The Underground is more or less, where we began the book. The Underground #29 in June 2006 at the Edge, to be exact. That's where we first saw Hard Candy, who have a habit of having their picture printed whenever the SCMP writes about us, and later Chris B, the organizer of The Underground nights, who was our first interviewee and gave us the priceless gift of two Sisters of Sharon CDs.

I haven't heard The Underground Compilation #1 yet (seems like you have to go to a gig to get one), but it has got to be good. Two CDs with tracks by 22Cats, Born To Hula, Chochukmo, F.B.I., Forgot, Lazy Susans, Sea Monsters, Tai Tai Alibi, The Sinister Left, Velvette Vendetta & Violent Jokes. Apart from 22 Cats, one of my favourite bands (so are Hard Candy, by the way), I haven't seen or heard the others, but Alice listens to bands on MySpace and says that Born To Hula, Chochukmo and Lazy Susans are good. There have been 67 Underground nights with 200+ bands (they don't repeeat too often) over the last few years. I guess a lot of those bands have disappeared already. The Edge has gone as well. So the fact that The Underground has survived is something in itself. It goes a long way towards explaining why we have such a healthy alternative scene in Hong Kong right now.

19 September 2008

Why Time Out Hong Kong?

The arrival of Time Out Hong Kong a few months ago was the first major post-hippie-capitalist event to hit Hong Kong since the coming of Virgin Atlantic and The Body Shop. So I was intrigued by a reader's letter in issue 11, thanking Time Out for 'finally' coming to Hong Kong, but then bemoaning the wine correspondent's lack of knowledge of wine and the city. I have no opinion on the second part of this. I mainly read the music section and I find that it is well-informed on the local music scene - much more so than it's free English-language counterparts. But I was interested in the idea that we have somehow been waiting all these years for Time Out to arrive.

The first time I came across TOHK (as it would like us to call it), I had a flashback to the days of punk 1978 when a bunch of us would meet up on a Friday night at the Marlborough Arms near London University Students Union. One of us would have a copy of Time Out (only one, mind you) and we'd look through the listings and end up at the Hope and Anchor watching X-Ray Spex, or maybe at The Vortex for Wayne County and the Electric Chairs. Then I moved away from London and forgot all about Time Out. I've been in Hong Kong since 1991. Have I really been waiting all this time?

Tony Elliott, who founded the magazine in 1968, had some interesting things to say about why we have been graced with the Time Out presence in an interview with the London Evening Standard. Basically, competition from freebies is cutting into circulation figures, so a diversification-globalization strategy is in order. This means that there are now 2o something Time Outs around the world. There is also a 'glocalization' strategy at work here - global format / local content. I think they are doing a good job on the local bit and I'll continue to read. But the reason we have a Time Out in the first place is not because we need it, but more because they need us.

Oh, and another thing I found out is that Tony Elliott says he was never a hippie, after all! Another illusion shattered...

17 September 2008


One of my favourite Sino Centre shops right now is directly opposite the escalator going down into the basement. It sells mostly Japanese CDs and DVDs and has a big display of anime and video game soundtracks, all at super cheap prices. Evangelion - The Birthday of Rei Ayanami is a CD I picked up there a few weeks ago and can't stop playing. I should say that I am not an anime fan, so it was news to me that this was actually the twelfth soundtrack album from the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series (where have I been?). Since I have an interest in Asian artists who do English songs, the highlights for me are the two versions of Fly Me To The Moon. One has a cheesy Japanese English vocal by Rei's seiyu, Megumi Hayshibara, the other a cool jazz piano version by Kuriya Makoto. They have most of the other eleven albums too - one with five versions of Fly Me To The Moon!

15 September 2008

Check the price first!

This is something I bought for Kaz at Sino Centre on Sunday. It's a 'Slim Airfoam Game Pouch' designed to stop the screen of his PSP from cracking when he throws his backpack on the ground at school. As the logo on the top left shows, it is (not) an official PSP product. But never mind, it works. There is basically no bargaining in Sino Centre. You either pay or you leave. So I paid my HK$78. A few shops down (which means around 10 steps away), it was on sale for HK$45. A few shops down from that, it was HK$38. Kaz says we were double-scammed. We also bought a copy of Every Extend Extra for HK$200 (not bad for a newish PSP game). Then he goes a few floors up and digs out a copy selling for HK$60.

14 September 2008

Sino Centre

This is a blog about Hong Kong popular culture, so I'll start with my favourite mall for all things Hong Kong pop. This is Sino Centre, on Nathan Road between Yau Ma Tei and Mongkok, where we spent an hour or two earlier this Sunday lunchtime. Note that the photo is taken from outside on the opposite side of the road. If you take photos inside you are likely to come out without your camera, or maybe the hand that was holding it as well. It's that kind of mall. This is not a computer mall, by the way. There are six floors of tiny shops selling DVDs, CD's, figurines, video games, model cars, Japanese comics, and so on. I go for the specialist CD shops mostly - there are more than ten of them. I'll post up a few photos of things I have bought there, but for a taster, here is the blurb from the back of a HK$25 DVD of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening on sale now...

"Everything happened very suddenly, without warning, without symptoms, spreading speed of more people is no way to beware of, almost suddenly, around the major cities in the United States every corner, everywhere filled with strange and frightening atmosphere of deaths. This is a staggering destructive power, and no signs of any reason to follow..... in the end result is what all this happened so rapidly? Complete destruction of human behaviour in the capacity-controlled? Humanity no longer has to avoid danger and harm of instinct, is no longer able to be aware of knife stabbed himself, the fire will be burned to death themselves, water and drown themselves. No ago, and no consequences , so happened, some people say that this is a terrorist attack, some people say is a failure caused by biological experiments, and some may say that this is a terrible than the devil also the weapons, or a kind of lost control of the virus. But even human Cai Butou its route of transmission - water? Or air?"