Monday, January 31, 2011

Off to Paris

24 hours from typing this post, we'll be on a plane flying to Paris, France. It has been an extremely fast 5 months in Taiwan. This last month has been challenging because I've been sick three out of the past 4 weeks with two different colds. I haven't been well enough to do as much work with Animals Taiwan and Harmony Home as I had hoped to do, but I'm very happy I got a chance to meet the people and work with two great organizations.

Talk about cutting it close, we rented out and subleased our apartment 24 hours before our flight leaves. We had three different people come and say they were interested and wanted to rent the apartment, and all flaked out on us, so we got extremely lucky today and were able to rent it our for the 6 months we will be in Paris. I thought Los Angeles had some strange, flaky people, but Taipei has even surpassed that.

As far as my Chinese, well, we went to Charlene's high school reunion party this past weekend and I was able to speak well enough to communicate with the the people there (who were "impressed" with my Chinese). I actually ended up having more fun hanging out with the kids playing with oranges and video games and let the "adults" talk about days gone by.

After studying Chinese for 6 months total full time in Taiwan and 18 months on my in the USA, can I speak Chinese?

I guess the answer is yes, I can speak and read "a little" Chinese comfortably. 我會說一點中文也會看一點中國字.

Am I fluent in Chinese?

Absolutely not, I'm lucky if I can carry on a conversation, but luckily being the creative person I am, I can figure out a way to communicate most things with the limited language skills at my disposal.


Well I've been studying French on my own for the past 3 months using the Fluenz DVD course French 1, that I completed today.

Pas de probleme, je parle un peu Francais. Au revoir, demian Paris!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aboriginal Taiwanese Tai Ya Tribe

Charlene and I traveled more than three hours by taxi, train and van ride to visit the Aboriginal Taiwanese tribe Tai Ya. The Aboriginal Taiwanese are like the Native American Indians in many, many ways: the original settlers of the areas, many native tribes that lived in the areas, foreigners came in and "took" the land from them, eventually the current governments gave them areas of land or reservations to live on.

The Tai Ya village is up in the mountains about an hour drive away from Taichung. They get mail maybe once a week and usually do not leave unless they have a job outside the village, or need to go grocery shopping. They speak their native tribal language, but almost all of them also speak Mandarin Chinese.

We were asked by Charlene's high school classmate who is married and lives this village, to come visit and do a "workshop". We were not quite sure what to do, but eventually we decided to make a short film involving many of  the school children in the tribe using photos, video, animation and music all created by the children. The theme for the short film would be 部落 夢想 家 - Tribe, Dreams & Home.

We arrived on Monday and began working with the children. Charlene took a group of kids and worked on cut-out animation, photography and video. I took another group of kids and worked on recording a Chinese song they wanted to sing, worked with percussion instruments, played guitar and recorded some sound effects.  I created a karaoke version of this Chinese song without vocals.  Then we recorded the kids singing over it and even added one girl's homemade percussion "shakers" over the song. In the end we finished the final edit of the short film 8 minutes before the film debut scheduled for 6:00pm Tuesday evening.

By 6:00pm the schoolhouse was full of children, parents and volunteers who all were anxious to watch the movie. We showed the 4 minute film a few times as well as did a live acoustic guitar version of the same song, and also a drum and dance version of another song. It was a great time and everyone was extremely kind and gracious. There is a sincerity and honesty about children that you just don't get with adults. Sometimes it can be frustrating and difficult, but it is something magical that we all seem to lose as we get older, so it's a pleasure to be around kids and experience such a special time in their lives.

Here is the film 部落 夢想 家 - Tribe, Dreams & Home:

After the show we took a van ride down the mountain into town, took a train, then a taxi and finally arrived home late Tuesday night. It had the feeling of being a secret agent, dropped into an area, sent to do mission, and then leaving mission accomplished. A whirlwind 30 hour round trip experience from Taipei, but something I won't forget for a long, long time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Images in Taiwan

Charlene recently purchased a Canon EOS 550D camera. I'd never done any kind of photography before, but I figured I would give it a shot and see what happens. Here are 32 photos I took in Taipei, Taiwan. I created a video slide show and set it to the song "Rain" from my 2008 acoustic guitar CD "Acquiescence".  I was going to overdub some more tracks to the music, but somehow the simple one track guitar worked the best with the black and white photos.

I'll probably try to follow up this sequence, with a new set "Images in Paris" or something like that. In three weeks we're flying to Paris for six months...time certainly flies.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I swear I'm not drunk in this video...just a bit tired.

Here's to a good 2011 for everyone!