Monthly Archives: January 2005

Todd's first reactions to Gung Haggis Fat Choy� 2005

Wow… what an evening…58 tables and approximately 570 people attending the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ dinner.

Lots of happy happy people giving compliments, apologizing for leaving
before the end of the show – but all simply amazed at the warmth and
cameraderie that was created between the performers and the
audience.  Definitely an intimate dinner for almost 600 people!

The show opened with a procession led by a Scots Canadian piper, and a
Chinese – born piper, Joe McDonald and Zhongxi Wu.  All the
performers followed their lead.  This included Karen Wong, Alex
Chisolm, Carmen Rosen
, Tom Chin, LaLa, Dr. Jan Walls, Pat Coventon,
Heather Pawsey, Karen Shumka, Veera devi Khare, Nealamjit Dhillon,
Chris Trinidad, Harry Aoki, Janine Oye, David McIntosh, Max Murphy,
with myself and Shelagh Rogers bringing up the rear.  When we got
to the stage, I was amazed how many people were standing there… 
We led a singalong into Scotland the Brave, then asked everybody to
stand for O Canada, played on bagpipes, and accompanied by the Indian
doh drum and celtic bodran drum. Very cool!

Working with Shelagh Rogers and Tom Chin as my co-hosts was
amazing.  Shelagh is a wonderful, warm and gracious host – even
after she makes gaffs, such as asking my girlfriend “What it is like
living with Todd”
“We don't live together,” was the reply
“Oops,” says Shelagh… as both our parents were in the audience.

Mayor Larry Campbell
attended with his wife Enid, the mayor was dressed
in a very lovely red and gold Chinese jacket along with his kilt, as
was I – strange but appropriate for the evening.  “I'll be
attending next year, ” he told me, “whether I'm mayor or not.”  He
was very complimentary about the performances, citing the rich
multicultural heritage of all our performers on stage for our opening
of “Scotland the Brave.”
“Only in Vancouver, would this happen,” he declared.

Jenny Kwan
, MLA for Vancouver Mt. Pleasant, which includes Chinatown,
looked dashing in Joy McPhail's tartan outfit with sash over her
shoulder, as did Joy in a cheong-sam borrowed from Jenny.  Along
with the Mayor, Jenny, Joy and co-host Shelagh Rogers, we read the
imortal Robbie Burns poem, “A Man's a Man For A' That and A'
That.”  A poem about equality for manking, the whole world
over.  Very fitting to be read by politicians who understand that
the real power is in the electorate, and the community activists.
Other city counsellors attending the dinner were Sam Sullivan, Peter
, Anne Roberts and my favorite – Ellen Woodsworth, whom I sat at
my parents table.

I will describe the performers later, as my mind is still reeling with the
events of the evening.  As great as each of the performances are,
the real treat is bringing up members from the audience to introduce
them to the crowd, and ask them to read a verse from “Address to a
Haggis” by Burns.  It demonstrates the diversity of our audience
when we can invite Dr. Dennis Law – CEO of the Centre in Vancouver for
Performing Arts
, Joseph Roberts – publisher of Common Ground Magazine,
Walter Quan from the BC Arts Council, Rev. Candace Frank from the
Centre for Spiritual Living, Dr. Eni from the Multicultural Society of
BC, Ariadne Sawyer from the World Poetry Society, and Margot Rogers –
Shelagh's sister all on stage with us.  It's all about building
community, and recognizing the community that we have.

And of course after familiarizing our audience with Address to a
haggis, since the audience followed the reading of Gaelic English in
the program, as it was read – later in the program performer LaLa and
myself took the Burns Ode up to another level as we turned it into a
rap song.  Gie her a haggis!  Gie her a haggis!  We had
the audience all punching air – an amazing sight.

Listening to Fred Wah read some of his poetry – the audience was
amazingly attentive and not a fork was rattled on the south side of the

Heather Pawsey
turned in an amazing performance of the Chinese classic
song “Mo Li Wah” or “Jasmine Flower” while dressed in a Scottish
outfit, she later changed into her beautiful red cheong-sam to sing an
aria from the opera Lucia de Amor  in Italian – but was set in
Scotland.  Amazing Amazing…

More later… but here is a note from Heather after the show…

Hey  Todd,

Just past midnight, finishing a glass of wine, having toasted you and
another successful Gung Haggis Fat Choy. I hope you finally got a
chance to EAT tonight!

Congratulations. It was a VERY successful evening. The larger venue
worked well, and I know that the friends we had there had a fabulous
time. It never ceases to amaze me how much work you put into this, and
how astonishingly well this crazy mélange of music, cultures and people
works together to make a coherent and beautiful whole. To those who
pooh-pooh the idea of multiculturalism, I say Invite them to Gung
Haggis Fat Choy - they'll change their minds before the haggis is even
piped in.

Thanks for letting me be a part of this very special evening, and thank
you from Karen also. Gung Haggis has found a very special place in my

Have a good night's sleep!!!


Things to Remember for January 30 Gung Haggis Fat Choy� dinner!

Things to remember for
Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ dinner on January 30.

Free Parking at Floata!
  Tell the parkade attendant you are attending the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ dinner at Floata. 
Special note: the Chinatown Parkade building was designed by Joe Y. Wai
Architects – my cousin, who also designed the Chinese Cultural Centre
Museum and archives building and also worked on the Dr. Sun Yat Sen
Gardens, and designed the new Hall.

Arrive early
–  5:15pm for reception
There will be 550+ people attending so please be patient upon arrival
to get your seating tables.  We will have 4 line-ups for will
call.  Most tables are listed under the person who organized the
table or the organization name.

Dinner show starts promptly at 6pm.

The plan is to to have the dinner courses arrive every 15 minutes, and
the musical performances will take place during the 15 minutes in
between with a 5 minute intermission.  This works in theory and
especially in a smaller restaurant when we only have 10 tables to
serve.  We will be serving 55 tables, so please bear with us as we
do our best to create the most memorable
Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ dinner

Vegetarian dishes abound
in our menu.  Please work out separate
deals at your table to trade grazing rights with the carnivores at your
table.  Meat / vegetables are split 50/50 with everybody fighting
over the shrimp balls.

Free subscription to Rice Paper
: please remember to fill it out.  Our volunteers will assist you. This fundraiser is for Asian Canadian Writer's
Workshop, publisher of Rice Paper.  If you already have a
subscription, or aren't interested – please fill it out anyways and
donate it to a local library or school or a friend or community
organization.  Spread the word! or join the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team our other fundraiser recipient.

Raffle Tickets
– most of our fund raising at the dinner comes from our
raffle ticket sales, due to the cost of dinner + event
production.  We have lined up some incredible prizes, and hope you
will be generous.

Have fun, and Sing lots!
This dinner is all about creating
community, and sharing our cultures.  We have been blessed to
recieve such a wonderful response from people who believe in what we
have created.  Introduce yourselves to your table mates, and 9 new
best friends for the evening. Sing songs like Scotland the Brave, Loch
Lomand, When Asian Eyes Are Smiling, My Chowmein Lies Over the Ocean –
My Haggis Lies Over the Sea…

If you need our attention or require assistance
, please ask our
volunteers, so that they can answer your questions or direct you to
restaurant management or our production coordinator Vicky Tanguay.

Slainte, Toddish

Veera devi Khare and Battery Opera's David McIntosh perform at Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ 2005

The surprise performances to watch for at Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ 2005 will be:

David McIntosh of Battery Opera performing with Max Murphy on Baritone Saxophone.  I performed with this couple at a Bob's Lounge
evening back in December.  It was eclectic, it was quirky, it was
surprising.  We loved each other immediately.  David has a
wonderfully strong voice, and he sings in Mandarin too!  They will
teach the audience a Chinese drinking Song, and present their own ode
to the haggis.  Battery Opera has a reputation for creating shows
where anything can happen.  I am looking forward to it.

Veera devi Khare is an opera soprano that sings classical cross-over,
jazz and Indian chants.  She invited me to her show in May, “A Touch of Opera, A Touch of India.”  I was so taken with her performance
I immediately recommended her to Asian Heritage Month and to CBC
Radio.  CBC Radio asked Veera to perform for their production “A Fine Cabaret
to celebrate the radio dramatization of Rohinton Mistry's “A Fine
Balance.”  She stole the show!  Veera has now been invited to
perform for the explorASIAN gala concert to open Asian Heritage Month
in Vancouver. 

Harry Aoki, esteemed world musicologist will accompany Veera on his
stand up double bass.  Also joining them will be Janine Oye on
both piano and clarinet.  Janine is also librarian for the
Vancouver Philharmonic.  Harry performs regularly with gypsy and
jazz bands and organizes First Friday Forum, a musical and discussive forum for traditional and world music at the Nikkei Centre – first friday of each month.

Vancouver Sun prints picture of SFU's Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ Dragoncart racing

Dragoncart racing made it's debut
at the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ “Canadian Games” on Friday January
28th.  The Vancouver Sun captured the “Gung Haggis FAS Choy” team
in action on page B1 on today's (Jan 29) Vancouver Sun. 

The caption reads:
“It's Gung Haggis Fat Choy (that's what they call it) on Friday at
Simon Fraser University, when Scottish Robbie Burns Day traditions mix
with Chinese New Year rituals.  To mark the occasion this team
from the faculty of applied science propels its dragoncart with
crutches and much enthusiasm in a race down Convocation Mall. 
They finished second.”

CITY TV and Channel M also shot camera footage – I missed it on last night's news – did anybody see it?  please comment!