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  • Opportunity Knocks: Nicaraguan director Jaime Zúñiga makes Taiwan debut with Venus in Fur

    Opportunity Knocks: Nicaraguan director Jaime Zúñiga makes Taiwan debut with Venus in Fur

    My Taipei Times piece (Friday, 15 May) on actor-director Jaime Zúñiga and his production of Venus in Fur running at Taipei National University of the Arts from 15-17 May.  All three performances are already sold out, though you might be able to grab a place on the floor if you show up early.   Jaime Zúñiga takes [...]

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  • Floyd Mayweather doesn’t frustrate me; boxing’s relentless greed does

    Floyd Mayweather doesn’t frustrate me; boxing’s relentless greed does

    When the decision was announced, the silence from the overwhelmingly Filipino crowd at the Farm House bar in Taipei’s “Combat Zone” said it all. There was some half-hearted, almost apologetic booing and, in a few cases, some wilful delusion. “It’s bullshit,” said a Pinoy named Dave, shaking his head. “He just ran away all the [...]

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  • From warzones to wailao (外勞): Taiwan’s qualifiers for World Cup 2018

    From warzones to wailao (外勞): Taiwan’s qualifiers for World Cup 2018

    While there’s next to no chance of Taiwan emerging from the second round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they could have done a fair bit worse in terms of the teams they drew in Group F. True, with a world ranking of joint-179th (out of 209 nations) with Cambodia, they are [...]

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  • Un Bataburillo de la Cocina Paraguaya

    Un Bataburillo de la Cocina Paraguaya

    There’s something satisfying about reduplication. Words like pell-mell, riffraff and whippersnapper just sound good. Johnson called them “low words.” Blackadder called him a “pompous ass with sweaty dewflaps.” Hodepodge is another good one and so is the Spanish equivalent batiburillo. The word suits Asunción, a city of jumbles. Passionate indolence. Teutonic Guarani-speaking Ladinos. Dark and dusty bookshops on hot [...]

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  • Into the Mist: The Secret History of KMT Collaboration with the Japanese

    Into the Mist: The Secret History of KMT Collaboration with the Japanese

    The following is the original draft of a feature which appears in today’s Taipei Times (Sunday, 5 April). Just above Hell’s Valley in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投區), there’s a small clearing in the bushes that affords a great view of the surrounding hillside. When the sulfurous steam dissipates, you can watch tourists milling around the [...]

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  • Verse Not Purse; No Green, Free Bean; Can’t Write for Toffee, Still Blagged a Coffee …

    Verse Not Purse; No Green, Free Bean; Can’t Write for Toffee, Still Blagged a Coffee …

    Though I sometimes still have the odd couplet or rhyme floating around my head (mainly the works of the late Christopher Wallace), I jacked in writing poetry a long time ago, mainly because I’m not very good. Not long after I got started with with this blog, I stuck up a couple of my better [...]

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  • Soulang Cultural Park (蕭壠文化園區)

    Soulang Cultural Park (蕭壠文化園區)

    November 1651 was an irksome time for Nicolas Verburg, the 10th governor of Formosa, and Reverend Daniel Gravius was the biggest of the irks. The clergyman had already got Verburg’s back up by issuing poll tax papers to the Chinese settlers of Soulang village and allegedly extorting a large sum of money from two different [...]

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  • What’s the deal?

    What’s the deal?

    This one has bamboozled me for years. Why, oh why do market vendors announce that something is “25 NT each, four for a hundred!” like that’s some kind of deal? I’ve asked people and invariably got blank looks. “It’s 25 NT. Four for a hundred.” Some of the more wily, rascally types down the market [...]

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  • Chinatrust: A Mea Culpa

    Chinatrust: A Mea Culpa

    Banks in Taiwan discriminate against foreigners. Anyone who has tried to get a credit card here will know this. When I first tried to apply for a card almost a decade ago, I was flatly rejected. In 2007, I managed to wangle a card through Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐國際商業銀行) with my wife as a [...]

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  • Hsieh Tung-min’s former residence, Ershui Township (謝東閔故居,二水)

    Hsieh Tung-min’s former residence, Ershui Township (謝東閔故居,二水)

      Today is the 68th anniversary of the 228 Incident, a dark chapter in Taiwan’s history. I thought I’d post something on Hsieh Tung-min (謝東閔), a former governor and vice-president of Taiwan under President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國). Because of his background and one defining incident in his life, he is an interesting figure when it comes [...]

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