Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

What’s Your Panda Name?

We often talk about the darnedest things while on our way to cover stories.  For some reason, cameraman Sean Gibbons and I started talking about pandas.  I think it’s because we passed a Panda Express before we got to our location.  Sean asked why pandas on loan from China always have double names like “Tian Tian” at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

"Loo Loo"

"Loo Loo"

We didn’t spend much time discussing why.  We decided to assign panda names to some of our co-workers.

"Sean Sean"

"Sean Sean"

"Sol Sol"

"Sol Sol"

Me = “Loo Loo”, Sean Gibbons = “Sean Sean”, Sondra Solarte = “Sol Sol”, Ed Flynn = “Flynn Flynn”, Matt Butterfield = “Butt Butt” and Patrick Elwood = “Pat Pat”.

"Pat Pat"

"Pat Pat"

"Flynn Flynn"

"Flynn Flynn"

"Butt Butt"

"Butt Butt"

"Tom"

"Tom"

Then, there’s cameraman Stewart Orlin.  He’s incredibly witty, intelligent and somewhat shy.  He’s also got an extremely wry sense of humor.  After conferring with Sean and Ed, we decided that Stewart’s panda name just couldn’t conform with the others.  He’s “Tom”.  What’s your panda name?

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15

02 2010

A Tiger Tale

imagesOne of my girlfriends had to get married this week.  No, she’s not pregnant.  She’s Chinese and timing is everything when it comes to things like weddings, business ventures and births.  This New York Times story on my friend’s marriage might help you to better understand.

The approach of the Lunar New Year on February 14th has many Asians rushing to do all kinds of things.  I just got a haircut because one doesn’t want to be near scissors, knives or any sharp objects around the new year – you may cut off any good vibes.  The house has to be clean and all brooms, dusters and cleaning supplies have to be stored away – you don’t want any of your good fortune swept away.

Years ago while I was on vacation, my mother called me in a panic to warn, “Don’t go swimming.  Stay away from the water!”  According to my Chinese horoscope that year, my luck might not cover me if I ventured into any large bodies of water.  She was truly worried that I’d drown or something.  Nothing like hanging out at the wading pool!

I haven’t always been so superstitious.  And it’s not just with Chinese culture.  I also try to avoid the number 13, walking under ladders and opening umbrellas while indoors.  I even lift my feet when crossing railroad tracks and try to hold my breath when going over bridges.  I don’t know why.  Do we become more afraid of tempting fate as we age?  When I mentioned some of this to my hairdresser this weekend, she shared that she always has to touch the outside of her airplane before she boards a flight.  Hey, it’s kept her safe all these years.  Maybe I’ll start doing that, too.

2010 is a Tiger year and the cycle indicates a “white metal” Tiger.  Overall, astrologers predict a lot of drama and ferocity but success since the Tiger is among those who rule the jungle.  Kung Hei Fat Choi!

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07

02 2010

Miss Friendship Ambassador

The contestants strut their stuff!

The contestants strut their stuff!

I can’t recall even one mention of beauty pageants while I was in journalism school.  But throughout the year, I emcee a variety of events (just about every week) including a beauty pageant.  The Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce holds a popular Miss Friendship Ambassador Pageant to select a young lady to represent Chicago’s Chinese community.  The winner gets to travel to Hong Kong to compete in an international pageant that includes ambassadors from Chinatowns all over the world.

The Chinatown Chamber does great work for the community so I am happy to help out. And I always enjoy working with David Wong who provides the Chinese translation for the ceremony.  While my Cantonese is conversational, I cannot translate a lot of technical terms and titles – and there are a lot of people with long titles who want to be mentioned.

With pageant co-emcee David Wong.

With pageant co-emcee David Wong.

Just announcing the list of dignitaries, elected officials and sponsors seems to take over half an hour.  There are always more who show up after we’ve received the final scripts.  Asians are so respectful, everyone wants just about everyone to have “face”.  Names and titles are scribbled into the margins of our scripts which is why I go through it carefully while I’m making the announcements.  I always wonder if the average banquet goer pays attention or cares.

As the contestants paraded around in their evening wear, an organizer tells me “Uh, (elected official) says he didn’t hear his name mentioned.  He wants us to mention it now.”  What?!?!  I am certain I mentioned his name. If I said it again, others may wonder why they didn’t get mentioned twice.   I think even Miss Friendship Ambassador would agree.

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09

11 2009

Happy Birthday. In Chinese.

"What'd you say?"

"What'd you say?"

Today is my father’s 70th birthday.  It is quite a milestone but I wasn’t able to spend it with him.  In fact, I haven’t been able to wish him a happy birthday in person for about 20 years! In the television biz, November is a “sweeps” month so I never even consider asking for time off.  I’m certain he understands.   He spent over three decades operating our family restaurant and never took a single vacation.

My parents are retired and settled in Northern California.  They watch me everyday via the live streaming of Fox Chicago News at Noon online. The rest of the time, my mom claims she’s yelling.  My father is hard of hearing and still refuses to get fitted for a hearing aid.

My mom claims she's a human hearing aid.

My mom claims she's a human hearing aid.

As I do on many days after the newscast, I call my parents on the way home.  Today’s call is imperative since it’s my father’s birthday.  No one’s answering.  I call again.  No answer.  Within minutes, my mother calls back to report that she was upstairs and my father could not hear the phone ringing.  In Chinese she tells me, “I want to buy him a hearing aid for his birthday but he won’t go!”

She puts him on the phone.  I loudly wish him a happy birthday and ask what he’s up to.  Other drivers on the Kennedy probably think I’m having a heated argument with someone.  My father responds by asking about my work.  I don’t think he heard what I asked and as I’m sharing my news he says, “Okay, here’s mom.”

“We have to go now” she declares, “It’s half-price dim sum today at the tea house!” There’s always plenty of yelling there, too.

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04

11 2009

Parental Supervision

My parents are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

My parents are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

My parents are in California but they watch Fox Chicago every day, either on satellite or online.  If I take a day off and they don’t see me on the air, they’ll call to make sure I’m okay.  Otherwise, they expect me to call them at least every other day or so.  It’s among the few opportunities I get to speak Chinese.

As I drive along the Kennedy Expressway, my mother’s on the line complaining about my father’s hearing.  He’s lost all hearing in one ear and the other’s at just 2%… I think.  Something’s getting lost in translation.  My dad gets on the line to boast it’s 20%, not 2%, so he’s got 80% of good hearing in one ear!  They proceed to bicker loudly about the amount of hearing loss – “The doctor said it was the amount left not the amount lost.  You hear?”

My mom goes on about always having to answer the phone because he can’t hear it ringing. He simply refuses to wear a hearing aid.  The patriarch often has the final say in many Chinese families.

It’s all like a “Seinfeld” episode.  In Chinese.  On mute.

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16

09 2009

1.5 Billion BFFs

Look, we're not the same person! Look, we’re not the same person! NBC5′s Nesita Kwan, CLTV’s Judy Wang, Me, ABC7′s Linda Yu & Joanie Lum, formerly of CBS2

I once told Connie Chung I could probably retire if I had a dollar for every time someone called me, “Connie”.  For a while, I gave up on correcting people.  I mean, what a compliment — she’s a TV news legend!  Connie laughed when I told her that whenever people said “Hi, Connie!”, I would just smile and reply “Maury says hello!”

But c’mon, everyone deserves a closer look and to be known as individuals.  You’d think single-syllable Chinese surnames would be easy to keep straight.  Why do so many people have trouble telling those of us on television newscasts apart?   After 8 years working in Chicago, it doesn’t happen as often.  But once in awhile, I’m called “Linda” or “Joanie” or some mangled version of our first and last names.

Earlier this week while covering a story in suburban Chicago, a man asked, “What are you? Are you Chinese?”  When I answered yes, he asked, “I have a friend in Taiwan. Maybe you know her?”  Are you kidding?!?!  And then he was compelled to tell me, “My son lives north of Seoul.” Uh, that’s in another country and I’m not Korean.  But I do appreciate that he was trying to connect with me and my heritage.

Me & Lisa Ling, not Lucy Liu

Me & Lisa Ling, not Lucy Liu

Perhaps this is all pretty trivial given our hectic times and the perilous state of television news. So please keep watching Fox Chicago and all other news sources. Appreciate the messenger. You know, ol’ what’s-her-name!

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22

08 2009