The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs by Ah To

Inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s Netherlandish Proverbs, Ah To’s illustration of 81 Cantonese idioms is a celebration and defence of that creative and colourful language. In February the Hong Kong Education Bureau had residents rightly up in arms when it claimed that Cantonese was ‘not an official language’. Ah To’s Proverbs is a direct rebuttal.

Just in case you need some help figuring them out, the Cantonese Resources blog has very admirably put together translations and pronunciation guides for each proverb. The only one I knew straight away was 煲電話粥 – to boil telephone congee. Can you guess what it means?

I’m hoping to memorise all 81 so I can casually drop them into conversation next time I visit my parents.

Ever wonder what came before Hong Kong In The 60s? Well, in Chris’s case, it was these strange electropop tracks he recorded in the early ’00s with his future Greeen Linez partner Matt Lyne (aka A Taut Line). They’ve now been compiled and remastered, and are available from Matt’s label A Kind Of Presence. That’s 10 tracks for £2, what a bargain!

Tomorrow: Elmgreen and Dragset

At the age of 74, Norman Swann still lives in his family home, a grand apartment in South Kensington. Now a retiree, he had served for decades as a part-time teacher of architecture at Cambridge University. However, Norman did not achieve any success as an architect himself and he never managed to realise a single one of his own visionary projects. Burdened with his cultural heritage, his snobbish family background, and a home filled with antiques and paintings collected by his ancestors – all symbols of more glamorous times – his own life today is reduced to daydreaming in a small study behind the kitchen.

Disillusioned and bankrupt, the elderly architect is refusing to vacate the apartment he has been forced to sell to a former protégé.

I went to see this installation by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Tomorrow, at the V&A last month and would recommend a visit before it closes on 2 January 2014.

It’s exactly the kind of art I love: evocative, immersive, full of stories and secrets. It’s like wandering around inside a very beautiful and melancholy jigsaw puzzle.

Photos by Anders Sune Berg.

Arrivederci Roma

We got back from Rome on Monday and I’m already missing it.

Apart from playing the gig, we spent most of our time in Italy taking things easy rather than rushing from sight to sight. Leisurely strolls across the city, good meals and aperitivo were the order of the day. The only important place we had to visit was, of course, Dario Argento’s shop Profondo Rosso!

Electric Shadows: The Secret History of Kung Fu Movies

The secret history of kung fu movies begins in China’s Jazz Age. By the late 1920s, political factions were tearing the country apart, but the people were mad for movies. Savvy producers in Shanghai, China’s Hollywood, soon discovered that audiences love to watch martial artists. The earliest kung fu directors combined modern themes like physical fitness and feminism with traditional stories of revenge and filial piety. Their martial arts/adventure films, often starring athletic young women, dominated the Chinese box office until 1931, when the Nationalist government banned them, citing their promotion of “superstition” and “feudal attitudes.” The kung fu filmmakers moved to the British territory of Hong Kong, seeding an industry that would make an international impact by the 1960s.

From Ren Pengnian, the first kung fu director, and his wife Wu Lizhu, a cross-dressing martial artist, to opera actress Yu So-chow, Hong Kong’s “Queen of Swordplay Movies” and Jackie Chan’s “Big Sister,” to the Shaw Brothers, who founded their first studio in Shanghai in 1924 — the last surviving Brother, Sir Run Run Shaw, is 105 years old and still the Chairman of the Board, — the best action film talents in China made their way to the tiny colony. Mid-century films made in Hong Kong by these Shanghai refugees and their disciples directly inspired and influenced modern kung fu filmmakers like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen, Yuen Wo-ping, and Lau Kar-leung. Electric Shadows: the Secret History of Kung Fu Movies is the story of these pioneering men and women.

Sounds like a fascinating book. If you’re a fan of martial arts films, interested in film history or Chinese culture, check it out. The ebook is available now on Amazon.

[Hat tip to our friend Durian Dave over at Soft Film.]

More Than Human 63 podcast


Despite constant interruptions because I couldn’t find the mute button on the CiTR phone, it all went reasonably well last night. Top tunes, gig previews and a full 2 hours of weirdness.Oh and a chap rang to correct my grammar. Bless.

The playlist is below.

You can get the podcast 2 ways.

Either at CiTR’s feedburner:—Morethanhuman

Or subscribe for free on iTunes:


Delighted to have our song “Summer’s Bird” played on this always excellent radio show,  along with a few other tunes from The Outer Church compilation - which, incidentally, has received a glowing review in the new issue of MOJO!