Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Unspeakable Scot!!! Are negative stereotypes of Scots worse than of Chinese?

The Unspeakable
Scot!!! Are negative stereotypes of Scots worse than of Chinese?

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 30, Room 1420, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W.
Hastings Street.
This is the annual St. Andrew's Day lecture organized by the Centre for Scottish Studies, SFU.
“Some recent identifications of the
Scottish 'character' in print and broadcast media are discussed. Among
other aspects covered are the dour Scot, the Scot lacking in confidence
and the Scot elbowing himself to the top of the British political tree.
Are such traits and tendencies real, or are they mere caricatures? Has
anything changed in the depiction of Scots since TWH Crosland published
his 'The Unspeakable Scot' in 1902? “

Paddling down the Harrsion River

Paddling down the Harrison River

We attempted to paddle down the Harrison River – because we wanted to
see the eagles feeding on spawned out wild salmon… an important part
of our BC ecosystem

We withstood the driving rain, the hail storms (two) but the strong wind
pushed waves made paddlers nervous, that and the fact we wouldn't be
able to reach our destination until well after dark, because of the
headwind, scuttled the trip. We turned around at this wharf and headed
back up river with the intermittent wind now at our backs.


Vote for Kilts!

Wear a kilt and go after the Scottish-Celtic ethnic vote!

Vision Vancouver candidates for council
and mayor,
Raymond Louie and Gregor Robertson have attended may of the Gung Haggis Fat
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinners.  This picture is from 2008 with VIP host Deb Martin. 
That same year, Raymond
joined a kilted “Toddish McWong” on Rock 101's Bro Jake Show on Robbie
Burns Day this year.  In this photo Raymond is wearing the Royal Stuart
tartan, while Gregor wears his Robertson family tartan – photo
VFK / Todd Wong collection.

Many of the Vancouver politicians have attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – but not everybody wears a kilt

BC and Canada all have long Scottish-influenced roots.  Vancouver's
first Mayor, Malcolm Alexander Maclean, was born in Scotland.  Canada's
first two Prime Ministers Sir John A. MacDonald Alexander Mackenzie. 
BC's first governor Sir James Douglas was raised in Scotland, after
being born in British Guyana to a Scottish father and a Creole mother. 
And then there are rivers named after Scottish-Canadian explores
Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser.

Read the Scottish Page from “The History of Metropolitan Vancouver”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wore a kilt to his inauguration in 2008.  Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart also regularly wears a kilt.

All the current City councilors have attended Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners – Heather Deal and Raymond Louie have worn kilts to Gung Haggis dinners, but Tim Stevenson, Geoff Meggs, and Andrea Reimer haven't – Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang and Suzanne Anton have worn Chinese styled fashion.

Parks commissioners Stuart Mackinnon, Constance Barnes, Sarah Blyth, and Aaron Jasper have attended Gung Haggis dinners.  Stuart wears his kilt, and is a former paddler with the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.  Constance and Sarah have worn multicultural mixed fashion – Constance included her African and Scottish heritage.  Stuart has been a strong independent voice on the Parks board – able to
work with commissioners from each of the other COPE and npa parties. 
Stuart bought his kilt outfit
last year soon after joining the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team,
and wore it with the team in a documentary about Vancouver's
multiculturalism for German Public Television.  Stuart's kilt is
primarily Green – like his party.

Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon in his red kilt, city councilors Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang, Suzanne Anton and parks commissioners Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes. – photo Patrick Tam Flunging Pictures

Donalda Greenwell-baker is running for Parks Board.  Here she is wearing a tartan skirt that she bought at silent auction for the 2010 Burns Dinner for the Vancouver District Labour Council, so money goes to supporting the meal programs at the Queen Alexandra Elementary School. – photo Todd Wong

DSC_0001 by you.
Tartan Day (April 6) was proclaimed for City of Vancouver,
on April 3, 2008.  It was moved by councilor Heather Deal and seconded
by Raymond Louie.   Mayor Sam Sullivan and many city councilors have
supported the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner over the years.  In this
picture Tim Stevenson is holding the Fraser Hunting Tartan backwards. 
He said after I corrected him “I can't do anything straight!”

Heather Deal is wearing a tartan skirt.  Bagpiper Allan McMordie wears
his full dress outfit.  Mayor Sullivan and councilors BC Lee and George
Chow wear tartan sashes. Toddish McWong wears the Fraser Hunting Tartan,
as does councilor Kim Capri in the mini-kilted version.

Todd Wong (centre right in red vest) wears the tartan on St. Patrick’s Day, along with Nathalie Coulombe (right) and others at Doolan’s Pub.
View Larger Image View Larger Image and Story – click here!
the best photo opportunity for a city councilor in a kilt! 
English-born but Michigan-raised Vancouver City Councilor Heather Deal
came to the April Kilts Night, and her family tartan graced the
Vancouver Sun photo.  It was Heather who helped develop the Tartan Day
proclamation and moved it at Vancouver City Hall on April 1st. 

was councilor Raymond Louie who as deputy mayor, actually read the
proclamation on April 6th Tartan Day at a ceremony at Creekside Park,
with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. 
see story:
A Tartan Day dragon boat paddle practice… with bagpiper and proclamation reading

Remembrance Day 11/11/2011

The veterans of Pacific Unit 280 are getting smaller in number each year.  My grand-uncle Daniel Lee was a past-president for Pacific Unit 280 and always helped to organize their events.  Sadly Uncle Dan passed away last year in 2010, along with Howard Chan – whose sister had married my mother's brother.   The vets always have lunch afterwards at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant.  I have joined them on many occasions since about 2000.
photo – Todd Wong

Veteran Frank Lee, who took part in the Normandy Landings of WW2, shows his medals to Susan Crean, our current writer-in-residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House.  I have known Frank since I was a little boy, and grew up with his nephews – photo Todd Wong

My Toronto friends Susan Crean and Brad Lee came to the ceremonies and brought Brad's dad. Ray Lee, who is from Calgary.  I introduced them to my city councilor friends Ellen Woodsworth, Andrea Reimer and Raymond Louie, plus new COPE candidate RJ Aquino.  Ellen and Raymond have been attending the Chinatown ceremonies for many years. – photo Todd Wong

Current Parks commissioner Stuart Mackinnon and former City Councilor Tim Louis attended the ceremonies.  Tim declared that Stuart was his favorite Parks Commissioner.  I have known both for years.  Stuart was a paddler on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and together we helped create a junior team for Killarney High School, where Stuart teaches.  Tim has been a former Library Board member, and I have also attended COPE parties at his home in Kitsilano. – photo Todd Wong

The ceremonies were really over-crowded this year, as the crowds do not respect the space, and not only crowd the veterans but also block out the view of the little Wolf Cubs and Beavers too. 

Fauzia Rafiq comes to Historic Joy Kogawa House Nov 13

Fauzia Rafiq comes to Historic Joy Kogawa House Nov 13

Historic Joy Kogawa House

1450 West 64th Ave.

Vancouver BC

    Writing for Social Change


Fuazia Rafi’s
long-awaited novel, Skeena, was published in Punjabi in
Pakistan in 2007, and in Canada
last Spring. It is the story of a Muslim Canadian woman, written in
own voice, which follows her journey from village, to Lahore, to Toronto
finally, Surrey.  Novelist Tariq Malik, a
member of the Kogawa House Board , will host the event with me.


Kogawa –
Book Launch


Sheena Wilson
launches her collection of essays on the
life and work of Joy Kogawa, Joy Kogawa,
Essays on Her Works
(Guernica). Wilson has contributed three
articles and
an extensive Kogawa bibliography to the book. Several of the writers
will be
present, as will Joy Kogawa.

Strombo wades in on the plagiarism issue of Ling Zhang’s “Gold Mountain Blues”

and the Arts
George Stromboulopoulos comments on the current lawsuit
by authors Wayson Choy, Sky Lee and Paul Yee against Chinese born author Ling Zhang – and points out some infamous examples of plagiarism including George Harrison’s song My Sweet Lord vs He’s So Fine by The Chiffons. 


Here are some of the highlight’s from the article

Cold Play’s “Viva la Vida” VS Joe Satriani’s “If I Could Fly”

Strombo points out that unintentional plagiarism still gets you in trouble.  There are videos comparisons of Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and “He’s So Fine”, as well as Cold Play’s “Viva la Vida” vs Joe Striani’s “If I Could Fly” which was was settled out of court in September, 2009.  Strombo also points out the successful lawsuit by the Isley Brothers against Michael Bolton, who had both released songs titled ‘Love is a Wonderful Thing’, only Bolton did it 25 years later.

More interesting are the literary references:

Teenager Kaavya Viswanthan, wrote a hit debut novel, ‘How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life’ which was found to contain different portions of two young adult novels by Megan McCafferty.

Stephen Ambrose’s book ‘The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45’ was found to have copied full passages from six different books that had not been listed as sources.

The Terminator Movie VS Outer Limits segments

If story “ideas” are proprietary, then Ling Zhang may be in big trouble.  Strombo points out that James Cameron had admitted that the idea of the Terminator movie was based on ideas from “a couple of Outer Limits segments”.  Author of the segments was author Harlan Ellison who settled out of court and had his name added to the end credits of the film.

Disappearing Moon Cafe

Can it also be a coincidence that Paul Yee’s Saltwater City, Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe, Denise Chong’s The Concubine’s Children, and Wayson Choy’s Jade Peony, were the 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1996 winners for the City of Vancouver Book Awards
The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

Check out the listed examples of plot and character similarities that have been printed in news stories, from the Federal Court Statement of Claim

Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), pg. 3

In grave danger, a young Chinese man is rescued and then cared for by a
beautiful girl, Kelora, of rare Chinese/ Native heritage.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues(2011), pp. 256-285

In grave danger, a young Chinese man is rescued and then cared for by a
beautiful girl, Sundance, of rare Chinese/Native heritage.

Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), pg. 237

The Chinese man is old now. Full of regret for his long lost love, Kelora, he dies after a visit from her.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 511-513

The Chinese man is old now. Full of regret for his long lost love, Sundance, he dies after a visit from her.

Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony (1995), pp. 52-56

Wong Suk is disfigured after working on the railway. He rescues a white
foreman who becomes gratefully indebted as well as a good friend. When
the foreman dies, his son passes along a precious piece of gold.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 70-72, 145-147, 377

Ah Fat is disfigured in a fight while working on the railway. He saves the
life of his white foreman. They become good friends over the years.
When the foreman’s wife dies, her will leaves money to Ah Fat’s son.

Paul Yee’s The Bone Collector’s Son (2003), pp. 62, 72-73, 79-80, 140-141

Fourteen-year-old Bing works as a houseboy for a white couple in Vancouver. He becomes a
target of white bullies, but his employer Mrs. Bentley rescues him.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 309-326

Fifteen-year-old Kam Ho works as a houseboy for a white couple in Vancouver. He becomes a target of white bullies, but his employer Mrs. Henderson rescues him.

Paul Yee’s Dead Man’s Gold and Other Stories (2002), pp. 73-78

Hard-working Shek buys a farm while younger brother Ping hates farm work and goes to the city to gamble. Shek pays everyone but Ping. Ping is unhappy. Ping kills Shek.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 235-236, 241, 243, 246, 247, 249, 328

Hard-working Ah Fat buys a farm while his son Kam Shan hates farm work and goes to
the city to gamble. Ah Fat pays others but not Kam Shan. Kam Shan is
unhappy. He disappears.

Allan Cho goes VAFF on Day 3 & 4

VAFF 2011 – Day 3 & 4 of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival

Allan Cho, guest blogger, checks out the films and Closing Night's after party at Wild Rice restaurant

Had a wonderful time at #VAFF2011.    Saw Anna
May Wong: In Her Own Words
Screened at a number of festivals, Anna May Wong, documents the first
Chinese American female actress in Hollywood. 

The after party at Wild Rice
was unbelievable
.  Great food,
excellent drinks, and fantastic atmosphere.  
The chatter was pleasant.  Met
many wonderful people.  The night ended
on a strong note – Surrogate Valentine
– was a huge hit.  Audience members
enjoyed the jokes, laughing often at the witty dialogue and clever script.  



Canadian Premiere
Director In Attendance


PRODUCERS: Elaine H. Kim, Asian Women United of California
Documentary | Digibeta | Colour | 2010 | 30 min | USA | English

Previous Screenings/Awards: San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival 2011; Int’l
Women’s Film Festival in Seoul 2011

Slaying the Dragon Reloaded: Asian Women in
Hollywood and Beyond explores representations of Asian and Asian American in
American media to explore what has changed, what has been recycled and what we
can hope for in the future. Designed primarily but not exclusively for college
classroom use, the first half of the documentary examines Hollywood images of
Asian women from 1984 to the present to examine how commercial visual media in
the U.S. reflect or ignore the dramatic social and demographic changes of the
past quarter of a century. The second half showcases the exciting ways Asian
American cinema and new media such as YouTube seek to broaden, diversify and
challenge common notions of Asian women.


Canadian Premiere

DIRECTOR: Yunah Hong
PRODUCER: William Smock
Documentary | Digibeta | Colour/B&W | 2010 | 58 min | USA/South Korea
| English

Previous Screenings/Awards: San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival 2011

Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American
movie star. She started out in silent films when she was 17, and went on to
make dozens of films in Hollywood, London and Berlin, co-starring with Marlene
Dietrich, Anthony Quinn and Douglas Fairbanks. She was glamorous, talented and
cosmopolitan. Yet she spent most of her career typecast either as a painted
doll or a scheming dragon lady. Filmmaker Yunah Hong paints a vivid portrait of
a Hollywood original, narrated in Wong’s own words by actress Doan Ly. Generous
excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs and interviews enhance this
richly detailed picture of a woman and her times.


Heart of the City Festival features concert & dinner at Ukranian Hall

Lots of cultural mix at Ukranian Hall
for concert & dinner event

Nov 6th, 3pm concert 6pm dinner
Ukranian Hall, 805 East Pender St.
Heart of the City Festival

First Nations, Chinese, Hawaiian, Ukranian, and British ethnicities and cultures mix together at Heart of the City Festival.  David Nahanee's First Nations family gave the opening welcome and drumming to open the festival.  Savannah Walling and Terry Hunter (back row) are the festival's founders and artistic directors.  Todd Wong (right) was guest accordionist.

William Nahanee explained to me that his family name is of Hawaiian origin, as Hawaiians had come to BC with traders, and settled into the Squamish Nation.  It is now a common name, he explained to me when I told him I had a friend named Nahanee in grade 8. 

I played solo accordion in the second half of the program.  I started out with the Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower), then a version of Scotland the Brave.  Terry Hunter had give me an introduction to the audience mentioning how I am the creator of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, so I explained that I wanted to acknowledge that Chinese and Scottish pioneers were the founding pioneer cultures of British Columbia – not English and French as in Eastern Canada.  I explained that my great great grandfather had come to Canada and ministered at the Chinese United Church, just up Pender St. It has been a pleasure to participate in the Heart of the City Festival, and I wanted to acknowledge the immigrant groups that have settled in Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside.  The next songs I played were J.S. Bach's Toccata in D Minor and the St. Louis Blues, to acknowledge German and American pioneers to Vancouver, and especially Jelly Roll Morton who had lived at the Patricia Hotel over on Hastings St.

The Ukranian Folk Orchestra played a number of songs for the concert.  Conducted by David Ho, who is Chinese, most of the members are of Ukranian ancestry, and all share an appreciation for Ukranian folk music.  Instruments included flute, violin, lute, mandolin, guitar, drum & percussion.  Sadly, they no longer have an accordion player, which prompted one of the band members asked me to join them.

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Bortsch soup, made from beets – a Ukranian staple, that I first had many many years ago made by a high school friend.

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Cabbage rolls!

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No Ukranian dinner would be complete without perogies.  One of my favorite foods I like to keep stored in the freezer, and smother them with cream cheese.

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Here is the completed dinner with salad, meat balls, beets, cucumbers, cabbage rolls and perogies!

Allan Cho checks out VAFF

Vancouver Asian Film Festival is “Almost Perfect” with guest actor Edison Chen

Written by guest blogger, Allan Cho

I checked out opening day’s VAFF
program.  What a great festival – seems
like this year is the biggest one yet.  
VAFF is celebrating its FIFTEENTH anniversary (
Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society and Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, and Ricepaper incidentally also celebrate their FIFTEENTH
anniversaries).   Great chance for me to
catch up with our old friends from at VAFF – its dedicated executives:
Grace Chin, Callan Tay, Kathy Leung, and
Clement Woo, and board director Iven Tse
VAFF founder and president Barbara Lee was also there, and we exchanged
a few good laughs.   ACWW friend, filmmaker
and director of One Big
Hapa Family’s Jeff
Chiba Stearns
was also on hand.

The first film I saw was “Almost Perfect,”
Kelly Hu, Edison Chen, and Tina Chen.  A remarkable film, about the complexities of
families and the wrenching realities of modern relationships and marriage, the
film won the hearts of the audience, as they gave a roaring applause at the
film’s end.  On hand was also Asian mega
Edison Chen, who was greeted by curious observers and fans
alike.  I had a chance to exchange
greetings with Edison, and even had a chance to ask about his most
recent controversy
in Asia
, but he declined
comment.  Along with renowned actress
Tina Chen on a panel discussion after the film, Vancouver-born and
raised-Edison revealed that he is currently working on three music albums and
another film project.  What a hard

Check out the VAFF Website at

Accordions at Heart of the City Festival

Accordions took over Carnegie Centre
for the Heart of the City Festival event
“Accordion To Immigrants”

Vancouver Squeezebox Circle performed Nov 5th at Carnegie Centre – l-r special guest Renee de la Prade of  “Accordion Babes” from California, Rowan Lipkowits, Ans, Glen, Todd Wong, Franz Gerber, Halke Kingma, (missing from photo is Alan Zisman) – photo Deb Martin

Fantastic accordion concert at Carnegie Centre…. with Vancouver Squeezebox Circle. We alternated solos and group songs. 

The inspiration for the event was to tell the story of 125 years of immigrants to Vancouver's Strathcona and Downtown East Side neighborhoods.

My solos were: St. Louis Blues and JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor – +
Hungarian Dance #5 (turned into a duet with Halke Kingma whom I had never played
with before, and who hadn't played the song in 15 years.

Best unexpected moment was when Renee de la Prade joined us on stage to sit in – and I asked her if she would like a solo spot.  She stood up to play and sing an Irish whiskey song, then followed up with a Celtic Reel.

“How do you follow that?” I asked the audience, and performed JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor, which the sound tech added some reverb through the microphone and sound systems to make the performance sound like we were in a big church.  Renee later complimented me on the performance, saying she really liked it.

2nd Best unexpected moment – was acknowledging that Jimi Hendrix had lived in Strathcona / Hogan's Alley at his grandmother Nona Hendrix's home, then having Rowan performing “Purple Haze” with a surprise bridge excerpt of “Star Spangled Banner”