Monday, 26 January 2009

Working over CNY

Chinese New Year's eve, I worked the day + night shift. I thought I'd get to have a peaceful evening and go home after the bell at Fagushan 法鼓山 (one of the largest Buddhist centers in Taiwan) was rung 108 times, with the top monk, President and leaders of industry presiding over the midnight ceremony. Since I reported live all morning at Nanmen Market (南門市場) on people doing last minute food shopping, my coworker was sent to go live from Fagushan and I was to write the story back at the station for her.

But at 21h30, an explosion happened at an apartment complex in Taipei County, killing 4 and injuring many others. One team went to the scene and I went to one of the hospitals where some of the victims were sent. One victim was dead on arrival and another was being treated for inhalation. After snooping around for information and finally getting a formal statement from the hospital, I then got reassigned to the Taipei Detention Center, where former president Chen Shui-bian was being held, awaiting trial for charges of embezzlement, taking bribes, money laundering, influence peddling and blackmailing. Some of Chen's die-hand supporters decided to camp out there that night to "keep Chen company, spiritually." One of the supporters decided to strip down to his underwear and pour buckets of water over himself in the freezing cold, to rid the bad luck that's been surrounding Chen. During the interview, he was in his underwear and I was in my turtleneck, jacket, coat with fur collar, fur hat, fur purse and leather gloves. It was a very interesting contrast.

So gas explosion and Taipei Detention Center. My Chinese New Year's eve. I have a very interesting job. Thank goodness I enjoy the excitement!

Chinese tourist: Taiwan? mamahuhu

I interviewed a Chinese tourist visiting the National Palace Musuem today. Here's how it went.

Me (MJ): what brings you to Taiwan?
Chinese tourist (CT): the family was coming, so I decided to come too. We have family in Taiwan.
MJ: I see. When did you arrive?
CT: just today.
MJ: what's your impression so far?
CT: 馬馬虎虎 so so. Not as grand as I had expected.

I think a lot of Chinese tourists come to Taiwan expecting to see an island more modernized than Shanghai and more historic than Beijing, and obviously they go home disappointed. I think what's different and valuable is what they don't see - freedom and democracy. During our discussion on the way back to the TV station, 恐龍 (dinosaur) my cameraman today said, "至少我們可以罵總統. At least we get to publicly criticize our president." Hee hee hee hee hee.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Hanga printing day 2

Done! And it's 2h30. Quite pleased with the shadow this time. The whole print looks a lot less like the kindergarten art that my last print was. Lots of things to fix still. Got lessons and suggestions from Mama over Skype. However, I'm putting everything away until Chinese New Year. Otherwise I'll be working on it every night after work until the wee hours of the morning like I'm doing now and going to work the next day like a zombie. If I see it I'll want to touch it. And once I start, I can't stop. Very scary. But very happy.

Oh so sleepy.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Hanga printing day 1

Just the background and the shading for now. Hopefully I'll get to work on the rest tomorrow night.

Oh, it was so much fun, although getting the three greens for the gradation just right gave me a humongous headache in the beginning. I love gradations, but I just don't know how to do them efficiently. I'm just going to have to play with it myself until I can get back to the the arts university on my break at the end of the month. It's 3h00. Better get to bed. Still have 10 more days of work before I break for Chinese New Year.

Here are some pictures that my new roommate Leanne took for me. Thanks, Leanne!

Brian watching out for me.

More pictures here.

Back from Dapeng Bay and Liouciou

It was a fun shoot. But oh so tiring. We were standing on the beach with our toes in the water at 6h00 the second day. We were looking at sea urchins of various colors, blue starfish and other fun creatures, but it was freeeezing! On the verge of catching a cold, but I think I'll be OK. The good news is, things have been going much better with my cameraman.

There doesn't seem to be much in Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣), but Liouciou (小琉球) had a few nice trails, scenic spots and marine wildlife to terrorize. Liouciou is definitely a place to visit if you're looking to take it easy and forget that you're still in Taiwan. It's a great place to sit, stare into the ocean and empty your brain, too.


On Oyster Island - an island made of shucked oyster shells that were dumped here over the course of 30 years.

Guanyin Rock

More pictures here.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Congratulations, Uncle Tsu!

Uncle Tsu recently won the most distinguished architect in Taiwan award, and there was a big dinner celebration in Taipei for it this evening. Grandpa and Grandma were here too.

This is the speech I wrote in my head during other people's speeches, just in case I was called up to say something. I didn't get called, but here it is anyway.


我叫Michella Jade 翁郁容


爸爸和Uncle Tsu其實是好久好久的好朋友

我是大學畢業後認識Uncle Tsu的
一開始就好喜歡Uncle Tsu
只有Uncle Tsu把我當大人看

Frank Lloyd Wright的作品

那就是我的Uncle Tsu設計的!

I'm so proud of my Uncle Tsu.
Congratulations, Uncle Tsu!


English translation:

Good evening, everyone. Please go ahead and enjoy your dinner at the same time. Pretend you're having dinner while watching the news on TV. You eat, I'll babble.

My name is Michella Jade Weng, I'm currently a reporter and anchor at Formosa TV. Sorry, I don't have a teleprompter in front of me, so I don't quite know what to say. I'll keep it short and just aim to pass.

You're probably wondering what my relationship to Mr Ongg is. Yup, we have the same last name, but I'm not his daughter. I'm not his sister's secret child she had out of wedlock, either. What they say in the tabloid news isn't true. To prove it, Mom, Dad, please stand up and wave to everyone. See? I look like both of my parents. Though I do look like my godmother too.

Actually, Dad and Uncle Tsu (Mark Ongg) are really, really old friends.

I didn't meet Uncle Tsu until I graduated from college, but I liked him the moment I met him. I felt he saw the world through different spectacles, at least pertaining to me. All the other uncles treated me like a child, whereas he was the only one that looked at me as a grown-up. So from the day I met him, I thought, this uncle is cool.

But I'd still like to take you back to when I was little. The first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut. Then someone told me that astronauts needed perfect vision. I was near-sighted. Bummer. so I gave up. Then I had another dream, of becoming an architect. That was when I was in middle school. I saw projects by Frank Lloyd Wright and I was totally in love. Then someone told me that architects have to be really good at math. I was not. My dream was shattered yet again.

Then after college and grad school, I ended up falling into TV news, broadcasting social unrest and creating even more social chaos and you know how the story goes. But at least when I'm reporting in Taipei and even on the high speed railway in Taiwan, I can say "that station, that high rise, that luxury residential tower, that green building! Isn't it cool? Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it just awesome?! Those were designed by MY UNCLE TSU."

I'm so proud of my Uncle Tsu.
Congratulations, Uncle Tsu!


The average age of the five tables of guests there tonight was probably 45 with the median age of 55, so I really hoped to liven things up. It was supposed to be funny and I wanted to show how proud I am of Uncle Tsu, as a niece.

My just-in-case speech I wrote during everyone else's didn't get used, but that's OK. I'm still so happy about his achievement.

Finished carving

This should be the last board. Now I'm ready to print v 1.1 of my orchids. Forgot to leave space for the grey double-gradation on the shadow board though. Ack.

I think I'm getting a blister on my right thumb. Exhausted, too. It's quite different doing this after work rather than on days off. Guess what I'll be doing over Chinese New Year? :D :D :D

Tomorrow, it's off to Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣) and Liuciou (小琉球) for a travel story. The travel series might start up again in March. It sounds the Tourism Bureau was quite happy with our job last year. That may be reason enough to stay on at FTV for a little while longer.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Scenes from the easel

So far I can keep most of my hanga things on the easel. I wonder how long it'll take before they start fighting for space in my room... I have a low threshold for my own clutter, so I'm curious to see what will happen.

Hanga lesson & orchid print 1.1

I had two lessons on hanga while I was in Tokyo. One in the middle of the night after all the guests had gone, and one in the middle of high tea with Ami and Yusa. Very strange times to have lessons, but very memorable experiences, especially the time when Ami was here. We were having a leisurely chat, and then when we got to talking about hanga, all of a sudden, Mama became very serious. All of a sudden, she stood up, went to the kitchen and came back with one of the extra long chopsticks we use for cooking. With the very long chopstick, burnt on one end, she went from print to print in the flat, pointing and tapping on the acrylic over the print as she explained. Oh, she was so serious and speaking so fast! At the time, I was just trying to keep up, but now that I replay the images of the session in my head, I can't help but giggle. Imagine going through an art museum with a no-nonsense curator in a suit, professionally explaining each work and pointing to different areas of the art pieces with a...burnt cooking chopstick. Hee hee hee hee hee...

Back to my print. I have lots of things to fix in the print, including the gradation! Something felt off, and I didn't know what until Mama pointed out (with her finger, because it was small and close enough that she didn't need a chopstick) that the gradation was going the wrong direction. The light of the background and shadow of the flowers were going in opposite directions! Imagine sunlight coming in from a window on the right, shining down on an apple, however, the shadow of the apple, instead of being to the left of the apple, it is to the right, towards the light. Can you imagine? If I saw something like that, I think I'd fall out of my chair from the unbalance of the picture, like a motion sickness of some sort. So Steve Jobs is sick from hormonal imbalance and I guess I'm sick from light/shadow imbalance. That gradation going the wrong way is really killing me.

There are other changes to make too, so now I'm working on version 1.1, fixing the sketch a little bit as I go along too. This is fun. I really love this. I don't have to sleep or eat when I do this. To think, I absolutely hated art and avoided it at all costs when I was little.

Back from the Western and Japanese holidays and still braindead

After celebrating Christmas with Mom, Dad, Michael, Daniel and Quyen in Taipei, I went and celebrated the Japanese New Year's (same as Western New Year's) with Mama in Tokyo, (of course, working non-stop in between times) I'm back in Taipei again. Promise to put up pictures of the celebrations when I have time to go through them.

For some reason, my braindead-ness from Nov/Dec is still around. I'm still slightly slurring my speech, not able to focus, having trouble getting my ㄓㄔㄕ/ㄗㄘㄙ's right and still managing to not be able to recall the names of the people I work with everyday! I think it's incredible, like someone smacked me in the head and gave me a concussion! I've been like this almost two months now. I thought spending some time in Tokyo would help me recover, but apparently not. I might have shorted out something in my brain, but I think it's starting to recover a little, rewiring as it goes. I feel there are some changes going on in my head, though I'm not for certain what it is just yet. Kind of excited what it'll be like once it's done (rewiring, that is).

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on art, which has recently become a haven for my sanity.