Monthly Archives: October 2004

The ACWW Community Builders Dinner originally scheduled for Nov 6, 2004 has been POSTPONED.

Announcement – Oct 27, 2004

The ACWW Community Builders Dinner and Publishing Workshop originally scheduled for Nov 6, 2004 has been POSTPONED. 

We are postponing our dinner and workshop due to the timing of our event. As we understand, there are numerous competing events during the Nov 6 weekend that many of our traditional supporters are already committed to. Out of respect for our special guests and our desire to host a successful and well-attended event, we feel it necessary to postpone our dinner and workshop event to a more desirable time.

As such, we have not deposited any of the cheques received and we have not made any charges to anyone's VISA account.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by the postponement.

We will update you with the new date once confirmed.

We thank you for your support and understanding.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Sid Tan 604.433.6169

Jim Wong-Chu 604.322.6616

Don Montgomery 604.488.0119


I bump into the new co-host for Gung Haggis Fat Choy… It's Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada

My 1st priority when I arrived at the Oct 21 Wayson Choy and Isabel Huggins event at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival, was to enjoy a nice glass of red wine. 

My next priority was to find a seat at the Waterfront Theatre for the event.  After taking my time finishing my wine, I walked into the Theatre and surveyed a glance for still available seats.

“Todd!” a voice called out to me, as my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness.  I searched the crowd a recognizable face calling my name.

“It's Shelagh!” said the voice right in front of me.  I looked down, and there was a famililar smiling face that I recognized.

Everytime I meet Shelagh Rogers she is warm and effusive.  The first time we met was prior to my interview on CBC Radio's “Sounds Like Canada” on January 21, 2003. Upon arriving at the Roundhouse Community Centre where the show was being taped on location, I looked over where Shelagh was sitting with guests between the tapings.  Suddenly she looked towards me with a big smile and started waving.  I look behind me wondering who she is waving at, because surely it can't be me.  I haven't even been introduced to her yet.

Bumping into Shelagh at the Writers Fest is now like meeting an familiar friend.  She is very excited about being able to co-host Gung Haggis Fat Choy for January 2005 with me.  “Anything you want me to do I can do,” she says.  “I can be as Scottish as you want me to be,” says this Ontario raised woman who grew up attending Robbie Burns Dinners with her sister.

I jokingly tell her that our 3rd co-host will be Tom Chin of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, and she will be our token “white babe chick,” as we will help to offset the stereotypes that Asian men are not sexy, and that the dominant inter-racial couple are white males and Asian females. 

Shelagh laughs as we joke about my “demand” that for Shelagh to co-host Gung Haggis Fat Choy as part of her CBC community outreach, that “my conditions” were that her sister Margot had to attend with her. A good  thing that the Sounds Like Canada producers were familiar enough with my humour and Shelagh's relationship with her sister.

Having Shelagh Rogers co-host the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner will bring not just the presence of a nationally recognized Canadian media star that truly understands the nature and nurture of Canada, but more importantly a wonderful sense of humour and new friendship.

Wayson Choy at Vancouver Writer's Festival

Wayson Choy appears at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival for two events.

Event #47 – Saturday Oct 23, 7pm – Waterfront Theater

Isabel Huggan In Conversation With Wayson Choy

Event #54 – Sunday Oct 24,  8pm – Stanley Theatre

The Bill Duthie Memorial Lecture

Wayson Choy

Check out


Wayson’s new novel All That Matters is nominated for the Giller Prize. Founded in 1994, The Giller Prize awards $25,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. All That Matters is a prequel to The Jade Peony which shared the Trillium Award with Margaret Atwood.

Tonight’s event was a graceful conversation between writers Wayson Choy and Isabel Huggan. Both have written novels and memoirs. Topics discussed included: memory, writing about truths and secrets, relationships with family, the writing process and also their recent health challenges / near death experiences.

Both writers are very engaging and were able to quickly develop a good lively rapport both with each other and the audience. Wayson grew up in Vancouver, but lives in Toronto and recently retired from Humber College. Isabel, while growing up in Bellevue ON, currently lives in France, but returns annually to Canada to include teaching at Humber College.

Special topics included Wayson’s discovery that he was adopted, which occurred the week after The Jade Peony was launched in Vancouver. Wayson discussed the nature of drawing out the truth, and the variations of truths, when contexted in memory, as the truth is often different for individuals as their realities are most often always perceived differently. Both Wayson and Isabel encouraged writers not to try to write a universal perspective to appeal to all readers. The result, they explained, short shifts both the writer, and the reader, as it no longer becomes the truth of the story or experience.

During the book signings, I shared with Wayson my frustration about book reviewers who complain that All That Matters merely retreads material and settings already covered in The Jade Peony and his memoir Paper Shadows, and is therefore undeserving of the Giller Prize. “It always happens,” Wayson sighed, “but fortunately the Giller Prize judges were able to see beyond that.” He agreed with me that such critics fail to see that they are marginalizing and pigeon holing Asian Canadian writers, in the same way that racism marginalized and stereotyped Asian communities.

“If we can only write about what we know, then Chinatown and Asian Canadian issues are all that are possible, and writing about anything else would be beyond our experience. The Asian Canadian experience is part of the Canadian experience,” I said. Wayson agreed that Chinatown stories are Canadian stories, and stories about Asian Canadians are stories about Canadians. End of criticism.

In 2002, I was on the inaugural One Book One Vancouver committee for the Vancouver Public Library. We built an entire program around making Wayson’s first novel The Jade Peony, come alive for readers through readings, lectures, walking tours, discussion groups, a documentary movie, and even a dim sum lunch with his closest friends.

Throughout the summer, I learned not only what a wondefully crafted book The Jade Peony was, but also what a warm genuine and gracious person that Wayson Choy was. While the OBOV event officially wrapped up at the Word On The Street on the last Sunday of September, Wayson was feted at the inaugural Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Community Builder’s Dinner held that evening at Flamingo Restaurant. Also honoured at the dinner were Paul Yee and Roy Mah.

Bangkok Ladyboyz: Review Oct 20 – Plush @ Plaza of Nations, Vancouver Bc

Bangkok Ladyboyz: Plush @ Plaza of Nations

Oct 20-21, 2004 Vancouver BC

“You will enjoy the show for sure,” my friends who had seen ladyboyz
shows in Thailand assured me. So when, the announcer invited the
audience to come down from their seats to the front of the stage to
create a concert atmosphere, my friends and I went down to floor to get
the best view of transgendered male bodies in scanty costumes
lip-synching to techno dance songs.

“What are ladyboyz shows like in Thailand?” I asked my friend
Laura who had once taught ESL in Thailand and Korea. “A lot of fun…
they have the shows in theatre halls with 500 people. All the tourists

Opening the show were 5 local male dancers, dancing a choreographed performance to The Village People’s Macho Man.
What struck me is that very often, we don’t get to see Asian males as
sexy dancers or in positive roles, on my mind since the Vancouver Asian
Film Festival will be sponsoring a forum on profiles of Asian Males in
film on November 6th. But here were 5 males doing their best to engage
the audience to sing and dance, and it seemed perfectly natural in a
dance club filled with mostly Asians, curious middle aged White men,
and the few white younger females.

Then the hype got higher… and the Bangkok Ladyboyz took the stage
one by one, in scanty Las Vegas type show costumes, as four performed,
each taking turns lip-synching on a verse and performing together on
the chorus. Women or men? Beautiful and graceful? Which one had the
operation? Who is your favorite? These are the important questions the
audience is asking itself!

The fifth ladyboy came out with a blonde wig looking like a cross
between Tina Turna and Debbie Harry, lip-synching to Blondie’s One Way Or Another.
And the music continued: Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez.
And the costumes continued: bustiers, fishnet stockings, leather,
see-through lace…

East meets West cultural fusion? Well maybe if you understand the
Thai creation mythology behind the ancient traditional dance moves
being co-opted into a blend of Western contemporary hip hop music. The
ladyboy Cindy creates a mesmerizing dance routine starting by holding
tea candles in the palms of her hand in a scene remniscent of an
ancient temple ritual, progressing to belly dancing type moves, all
dressed in elaborate jewelry laden costume. Other scenarios portrayed
included school girl turned naughty, leather cat fight, revealing
evening gowns – all standard stuff of traditional male sex fantasies.
Except these performers are transgendered males!

Despite the occasional wardrobe malfunction that revealed ample
displays and peeks of silicon enhanced bosom, this was not a strip show
or even burlesque nor was it a female impersonator show. It is a
lip-synch show that highlights the beauty and performing talents of the
best of these trangendered performers that in Thai tradition are known
as the “kathoey” or “third sex”, an accepted part of South East Asian
culture that lives integrated with the mainstream.

But what kind of people came to see Bangkok Ladyboyz? I was
expecting to see Vancouver’s transexual community out in full force,
but maybe the $45 price tag was too high for a show that tourists in
Bangkok or Pattaya that would cost about $15 Cdn. Well it certainly
wasn’t the crowd from the Dufferin Hotel Pub where the gay waiters all
dress in drag for special events.

In the audience were Chinese grandmothers! And they lined up for
pictures with the Bangkok Ladyboyz after the show. Middle aged Asian
men showed up with their wives. Middle aged White heterosexual men
showed up with their Thai girlfriends. Young Asian men and women showed
up looking like couples on a date. Omigod… it was a normal Asian crowd,
leading me to think that this kind of entertainment is the norm in
Thailand and Asia. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s an entertaining show…
with an enthusiastic audience that all the exotic dancers at Brandi’s
and the Cecil would love to have… plus they wouldn’t have to take their
clothes off.

The next time I am in Thailand, I will definitely take in a ladyboy
show. Not only is the show entertaining – but the cultural intrigue
persists… How do these ladyboyz manage to keep such figures that boast
35-26-36 measurements? Is there something in the Asian male physique
that allows them to look so feminine? What would happen if the Bangkok
Ladyboyz invaded a Hell’s Angel Club meeting… probably end up sitting
on the bikers’ laps, flirting and encouraging multicultural East Meets
West fusion.

And which ladyboy was my personal favorite? That’s my own secret…
but he/she was standing beside me when I had my picture taken with them
after the show.

check out the website for pictures and more at

Paul Yee's “The Bone Collector's Son” is runner up for Vancouver Book Award

Paul Yee's “The Bone Collector's Son” was a finalist for the 2004 City of Vancouver Book Award.  Paul was the winner of the inaugural 1989 City of Vancouver Book Award for his nonfiction work “Saltwater City: An Illustrated history of Vancouver's Chinatown.

I remember going to the award dinner at Flamingo Chinese Restaurant in 1989 with the committe for the Saltwater City exhibition, that Paul had chaired.  In 1986, we had created a museum exhibit celebrating 100 years of Chinese history in Vancouver.

2004 Vancouver Book Award Finalists are:

Daniel Francis  WINNERL.D.: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver | Arsenal Pulp Press
A lively, though serious, history of Vancouver from the city’s near beginnings presented in a biography of our most persistent mayor who matched this rowdy and growing city step for step. [more information]

Annabel LyonThe Best Thing for You | McClelland & Stewart
Three subtle but evocative novellas about Vancouver in different eras, each with their own temper and mood, but all deftly handled with discipline, richness and economy of form. [more information]

Paul YeeThe Bone Collector’s SonTradewind Books
A great ghost story, assembled with masterful prose and a sense of history that draws you into 1907 Chinatown and the journey of this fantastic young hero. [more information]

The short list for the 2004 City of Vancouver Book Award was chosen by an independent jury. The works range from a biography, to a compilation of three novellas, to juvenile fiction.

Mayor Larry Campbell will present the award to the winning author in Council Chamber at City Hall on Tuesday, October 19, 2004.

For more information see:

Bangkok Ladyboyz are coming Oct 20/21

This sounds very interesting… Transgendered Thai female impersonators?  Check out the article in the Vancouver Sun.

M  E  D  I  A     R  E  L  E  A  S  E
Tropika Canada Group Presents
Bangkok Ladyboyz: An East-Meets-West Experience
As Contemporary As Hip-Hop  ~  As Ancient As Thai Creation Mythology
 Dates: October 20 & 21, 2004   Venue: Plush @ Plaza of Nations
Times: Doors at 9 pm / Showtime 10:00 pm
Tickets: $45  / Online at
and in person at Tropika on Robson (1128 Robson Street)
& Gyu Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant (219 – 755 Burrard – enter on Alberni)
Gender-bending is everywhere these days in our metro-sexual, poly-sexual, omni-sexual world, and fresh from the hottest nightclubs and showrooms of Bangkok comes a new twist to the confusion, Bangkok Ladyboyz!
Bangkok Ladyboyz, presented in Vancouver by the Tropika Canada Group of fine restaurants, will showcase their unique take on east-meets-west cultural fusion October 20 and 21, 2004 at Vancouver's Plush @ Plaza of Nations.  In two evenings of wild glitz and glamour, with classic lip-synch to contemporary hip-hop pop music infused with the famed sexuality of Thailand, five celebrated performers from the most famous nightclubs of Bangkok will raise temperatures and pique curiosity in a show that can scarcely be compared to anything else on stage anywhere.
Covering pop-culture icons as varied as Blondie, Jennifer Lopez, Fire Inc. and the Britney Spears, Holly Vallance and Kylie Minoque, the ensemble reaches new levels of tongue-in-cheek irony with a bring-down-the-house take on The Village People's Macho Man!  Also featured are Dhoom Dhoom and Sexy Naughty Bitchy Me by Tata Young, the hottest English pop singer in Asia today.
The Bangkok Ladyboyz will be joined on stage by ten local dancers in a show created by noted Vancouver choreographer Didi Kwok.  With five male and five female dancers and five ladyboys on stage, all three genders will be well represented!  Dance music will keep the crowds on their feet before and after the main show courtesy of the talents of one of Vancouver's favourite DJs, Marlon English.
Thailand's ladyboys are a world-famous phenomenon and a 'must see' on every tourist's itinerary.  Their grace and beauty inspire amazement and awe among the thousands who attend the large stage shows in Pattaya and Bangkok.  By day many of them live mainstream lives, acknowledged in Thai tradition as the “kathoey” or “third sex”, with a cultural heritage that can be traced back to the creation myths of northern Thailand. By night they are a glittering part of the big-city nightlife, melding ancient temple dance techniques with the heart-pounding rhythms of contemporary club music. 
With an evening featuring white-hot dance music from one of Vancouver's best-known DJs before and after the show, the Vancouver appearance of Bangkok Ladyboyz promises to be the most exciting sizzle of the season!,
Whether packing the clubs and show lounges of Bangkok, Tokyo and Hong Kong, thrilling audiences in New York and Los Angeles or bringing a taste of the exotic to the Edinburgh Festival or Octoberfest celebrations in Germany, Thailand's ladyboys are an entertainment force to be reckoned with.
Vancouver will experience the Canadian debut of this international sensation October 20 and 21 when Tropika Canada Group presents Bangkok Ladyboyz to Plush @ Plaza of Nations for two exclusive performances.  Doors open at 9 pm and showtime is 10:30 pm. 
Tickets are now available online at or in person at two downtown locations, Tropika on Robson (1128 Robson Street) and Gyu Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant (219 – 755 Burrard Street). For further information and some colourful footage of the Bangkok Ladyboyz, visit
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Gung Haggis Fat Chili – served and eaten

“Haggis in Chili?” many people asked disbelievingly…

“It's like nothing you have ever tried before”

“Our Chili has lots of heart!”

Standing like a market hawker, I served up chili to people lined up with their plates.  While my co-chefs took their turns serving up our creation, I played tunes on my accordion or went around and sampled other chili creations at the 9th Annual City of Vancouver Employee's United Way Chili Cook-Off.

It was an act of serendipity that brought me together with my fellow Vancouver Library workers Dawn and Alison for the act of creating a haggis chili.  The week before I had picked up my leftover haggis from the Flamingo Chinese Restaurant where 20 one-pounders had been in deep freeze since the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners in January.  What does one do with left over haggis?  Make Chili?  Sounded good enough for us and we were on a mission!

We each arrived soon after 10am, at the City Councillor parking lot which was decked out with a large tent, lots of festiva balloons to resemble a carnival site.  We quickly found our table complete with poster and our name: Gung Haggis Fat Chili. 

While Alison set to work dicing the onions and opening the tomato cans, Dawn and I set about to decorate our 2 yards of turf.  All around us the experienced chili cook-off contestants were wearing costumes and had elaborate display backdrops trumpeting their team theme.

There was “The Chili that Shagged Me,” with the team dressed up as Austin Powers Movie wannabees – although I saw nobody vaguely resembling Elizabeth Hurley.  There was somebody dressed up as a buffalo, since their team was serving up a buffalo chili.  There was somebody dressed up as a cow.  And the team that won the display prize – Firefighters! they brought city fire-fighting equipment such as hoses, helmets, fire extinguishers to creat a booth that could serve as a recruiting display.

Many different city departments were all represented.  Judy Rogers, city manager was dressed in a cowboy hat with her team name “Texas in the City.”  There were teams from Human Resources, Parks, Sewers, Outside Workers, etc etc… and us? We were the Library team – promoting our multi-cultural collection and heritage.

Mayor Larry Campbell was there with councilor Jim Green.  They had a stuffed turkey (by a taxidermist not a chef) on display, while Mayor Larry would mix up Margarita Mix and pass out non-alcoholic drinks “for atmosphere!” he would exclaim.  At one point, Mayor Larry dropped his portable gas powered blender spilling the contents and ice cubes across the blacktop.  “You're cut-off!” somebody yelled.  Later on balancing the frivolity of the chili cook-off, Mayor Larry walked by our booth with a platefull of beefy chili.  At first, I thought it had disagreed with him, and he was going to dump it behind the bushes – but as he sat on a bench and gave it to a homeless person, I realized his words had been “There's somebody that needs this beef chili more than us.”


Gung Haggis Fat Chili….yeah Chili!

Gung Haggis Fat Chili will make its debut at Vancouver City Hall on Oct 13, 2004.

It is the annual City of Vancouver Employees' United Way kickoff
campain.  Our team is representing Vancouver Public Library
employees.  My team members are Dawn and Alison. 

Dawn is shopping for the ingredients, is our VPL United Way
committee chair and has done a splendid job of bringing our team
together.  Alison is bringing her oven roasted chili spices and a
lamb chili recipe.  I am bringing the haggis, propane cooking
stove and my accordion.

We believe that Alison's ingredients and recipes are SO GOOD, that
despite the haggis, we will win the cook-off!  Honestly… we use
a very nice haggis, already tendered with many spices from Peter Black
& Sons secret recipe.

10am is set up in the Councillor's Parking lot at City Hall, 12th Ave. and Cambie St. in Vancouver.

11am we start cooking Chili – competing against other City of Vancouver employee teams, including the Fire Fighters – reknown for their skills mastering the hot stuff.

12pm we dish up a bowl for the judges including
Mayor Larry Campbell.  I will “pipe” in our chili, on my
accordion, playing “Scotland the Brave.”

People then line up for tastings of all the different chilis – they
each get a spoonful. Over 300 people lined up for tastings last year.

Already there is a buzz at City Hall about “the Haggis Chili.” 
Kate Lekas at City Hall helped us refine the name – suggesting
we substitute “Choy” with “Chili.” – thus “Gung Haggis Fat Chili.

Mayor Larry Campbell is known to wear his Campbell tartan kilt
at black tie events… although I doubt he will have it for the chili
cook-off.  I may wear the Fraser of Lovat kilt – currently in my
care, and I promised Dawn that I would bring some of the tartan sashes
that our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Maybe I will will
my stetson and cowbody boots with the kilt!

Cheers all, Todd

Vancouver Asian Film Festival Wine & Dine @ Opus Hotel

Here's a fun event fundraiser for Vancouver Asian Film Festival.  Their annual Wine & Dine wine tasting and networking event.

Date:  Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Time:  7:00pm  to 9:00pm
Location:  OPUS BAR, located in OPUS Hotel, 350 Davie Street
Ticket Price:  $30 (wine, beer and canapes)

Purchase tickets on-line at
Limited tickets available

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival will be unveiling its new Festival  Guide that evening, hot off the presses — a lineup of this year's 37  most intriguing films by North America's top emerging Asian film  talents. With over one third of the films directed by women, “Year  Number Eight” will be the largest Festival to date! Come and be the  first to pick up a Festival Guide.

The Festival runs November 5 to 8, 2004 at Tinseltown.

(Special 3 Course Dinner Menus for $30/$40 for our patrons at Opus' Elixar restaurant to follow. Call 604.642.0557 to make reservations and let them know you are with VAFF to get the dinner specials.)

The Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop 3rd annual Community Builders Awards – Joy Kogawa and Scott McIntyre


For Immediate Release: October 1, 2004

The Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop presents its 3rd annual Community Builders Awards

Dinner on November 6, 2004 in recognition of the continued success and influence of Asian Canadian writers and publishers in Canada. The 2004 ACWW Community Builders Awards recipients are pioneer Asian Canadian writer Joy Kogawa and publisher Scott McIntyre of the Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group.

Margaret Gallagher (CBC Radio) will be our special host for the evening.

This year’s event also includes a special publishing information Workshop at 4:00pm (on the same day at the restaurant) entitled “After signing on the dotted line: The editing process from the publisher's point of view” led by Douglas & McIntyre’s Senior Editor, Saeko Usukawa. The topic “What happens after your manuscript is accepted by a publisher?” will be examined and explained. This workshop is free to all ACWW members and all dinner guests. There is a $10 charge for non-members and those not attending the dinner.

Joy Kogawa, born in Vancouver in 1935, is one of Canada’s most significant writers. Her novel, Obasan tells the story of the Japanese Canadian internment through the eyes of a child. Obasan has been named the eleventh most influential novel of the twentieth century by “Quill and Quire”. Joy Kogawa was awarded the Order of Canada in 1998. The clarity of her poetry and prose continues to influence a new generation of young minds.

Scott McIntyre, born in 1944 and raised in Vancouver, graduated from the University of British Columbia with an honours fine arts degree in 1965. He entered publishing at McClelland & Stewart in Toronto in 1967, returning to Vancouver early in 1970 to join Jim Douglas and to co-found the next year what has become Douglas & McIntyre. He is Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group’s current President and CEO. Douglas & McIntyre has had a long-standing and continuing commitment to publishing the voices of Asian Canadian writers.

The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society/explorASIAN is a Community Partner for this special celebration.

When: Saturday – November 6, 2004

Workshop from 4:00 to 6:00pm Cash Bar Reception at 6:00pm – Dinner starts at 6:30pm

Where: Fraser Flamingo Restaurant – 3469 Fraser Street, Vancouver Phone: 604.877.1231

What: Publishing Workshop, 10 Course Chinese Banquet Style Dinner, Book Signing, Door Prizes

Tickets: $50/person. Bonus offer – Receive a one year gift subscription to Ricepaper Magazine

$10/person for the Publishing Workshop only.

Advance Tickets can be purchased from ACWW, Ricepaper Magazine, and the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. Limited number of tickets available at the door. Last year’s dinner was a sold out event so get your tickets early. Groups of 10 can reserve tables in advance for priority seating. Payment in advance for group tables is required. No refunds. VISA accepted. Please call 604.488.0119 to pay by VISA. For more detailed information, please visit our website:

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Sid Tan 604.433.6169

Jim Wong-Chu 604.322.6616

Don Montgomery 604.488.0119