1202. For those who care.

Filed in Current Affairs, Dogs of our Lives, General, Hong Kong

In my home, we have a table, a chair, a bed, a sofa, a refrigerator, a television and many other household articles. If I hit them, they don't feel pain. If I drop them, they may break but they will not be aware of it. They are simply material objects.

In my home, there are five people. We eat. We live. We cry. We laugh. If someone hits us, we feel pain. If someone betrays us, we hurt. If we are injured in any way, we know. We are aware.

In my home, there are eleven dogs and one rabbit. They feel joy when we return home from a day's work. They feel hunger before a meal. They feel lonely when the people are not home. They feel apprehension when they have done something wrong and see me approaching. They envy those who sit close to us. They speak. They cry. They even shed tears.

There is very little difference between people and animals, yet there are many people who treat animals as objects, as tables that can be bought and sold, born and killed, and all without any feeling or sensibility whatsoever.

In Beijing, the authorities in a bid to control an outbreak of rabies are killing all dogs with a shoulder height taller than 50cm. The fear is that these dogs may catch rabies and become a mortal threat to the humans around them. But it is senseless killing, and devoid of the only thing that makes people special: humanitarianism.

Rather than require that all dog owners arrange rabies shots for their pets, and rather than test for the presence of rabies in the dogs before killing them, the Beijing authorities have chosen the simplest method. Their people are simply catching every dog they see and killing it on the spot. It does not matter if the dog's owner has a license for the dog. It does not matter if the dog is healthy. It does not matter that the dog is an animal, with feelings almost identical to humans. It does not matter. The authorities are even encouraging residents to report relatives, neighbours and friends who may own a dog. It's early communism all over again.

It wouldn't even be proper to use the phrases "put them down" or "put them to sleep" because the government people are striking the animals to death with long rods, in the streets, in plain sight of everyone around.

China is rapidly becoming a modern country. Unfortunately, modern does not equate to civil. While technology can be learnt very easily, humanitarianism; the understanding and caring of life in general; takes a very long time to learn and appreciate.

China is not the only criminal though. Back in January of 2006 in a bid to prove to the people of Hong Kong that they were actually working hard to prevent a bird flu epidemic, the Hong Kong government sought out and killed every domestic chicken owned and cared for by common people all over the territory. There was no testing, no proof of theory, and no mercy. Commercial people; i.e., people with money; were not sought after, only the common people. The unfortunate reality though was that chickens growing up in the back yards of common people were far healthier and far less likely to get bird flu than chickens in the commercial people's overcrowded factories. But the Hong Kong government did not care. Their only concern was that the Hong Kong people felt that they were doing something. Politicians are so superficial.

From what I've heard, the Hong Kong government's theory at the time was that migratory birds carrying the bird flu virus may fly over the common people's homes, depositing contaminated bird droppings into their yards. The chickens in those yards would then walk on the droppings and consequently become infected. Possible but extremely unlikely. This theory was truly a load of crap.

Today though in Beijing, dogs are being senselessly slaughtered and their owners are suffering. To show our support for dogs and their owners in Beijing and to be an example for other Chinese people in China, people here in Hong Kong who care for animals will be holding a vigil on Saturday, December 2 at 6.30pm outside the government building in Chater Gardens in Central. If you share our care for animals, please make an effort to come.

One day, it will be proven that those who have money and power will never be as strong as those who have heart.

More about the vigil:

敬啟者:

鑑於近日中國各地所發生的大規模殘殺狗隻情況,以及其所採用的不人道虐殺手法,本小組聯同將於二零零六年十二月二日晚上六時半,在中環遮打花園舉行名為「1202 關注中國犬隻哀悼晚會」活動,為近期在中國死去的犬隻舉行集體悼念儀式,藉此宣揚愛護動物的正面訊息。

由於 閣下一直 對推動愛護動物的事宜不遺餘力。現本小組誠意邀請閣下出席是次活動,一起為動物盡點綿力,令是次在中國發生的不人道對待狗隻事件能夠被廣泛關注,並籍此提高公眾對動物生命的尊重及愛惜。
最後,本小組誠意希望閣下能夠支持是次活動,踴躍參與。

此致
河國榮先生

在內地,每分每秒都有狗隻被殘殺,情況令人側目,你又豈能坐視不理…

鑑於近日中國大陸殺狗行動已達瘋狂程度,令愛護動物人士對中國此殘酷行為感到痛心疾首,特意舉辦一次名為「關注中國犬隻哀悼晚會」的集體悼念儀式,藉以引起各界的關注,懇請各位參與是次集會,宣揚愛護動物、愛惜生命等正面訊息。

活動詳情
活動名稱﹕「關注中國犬隻哀悼晚會」
日期︰ 12月2日 (星期六)
時間︰ 晚上 6時半 至 9時正
地點︰ 中環遮打花園

備註︰請所有參加人士穿著黑色衣服,並帶備一支花及手電筒。

誠邀您們參與!

1202動物權益關注小組致上
聯絡電郵﹕contact@agfasia.org
詳情請瀏覽﹕ http://www.agfasia.org/1202/index.html

Article in 蘋果日報 Apple Daily (20061120)

Filed in Entertainment Ind., Press

I received a call today from a reporter at Hong Kong's 蘋果日報 Apple Daily newspaper. She had heard my songs and read about my broken toe.

She then told me that there will be article about these various things in tomorrow's the Nov 20 (Monday) edition of the newspaper. So if you are able to buy the newspaper, take a look, or you can check it out online at 蘋果日報 Apple Daily's web site.

Update

The article is not there yet. I've asked the reporter and she told me that it will be published some time this week. I'll let you know once it appears, or perhaps you'll let me know ;-)

Update (24 Nov 2006)

The article has been published. You can find it here.

Interview on 萬王之王, RTHK Radio 2 (20061116)

Filed in Entertainment Ind., Music, Music: My Songs, Press

Last week was busy; well not quite, but still interesting anyway. In addition to the interview with Alyson at RTHK Radio 3, I also talked with Shirley 曾淑儀 and Lu from the 「萬王之王」 King of Kings show on RTHK Radio 2.

When Shirley heard about my singing studies in L.A., she liked the idea of interviewing me but wanted to make it special. What she came up with was really fun. 「洋人中文歌」 is a three-part series; approximately fifteen minutes per part; with yours truly teaching (we're truly stretching the meaning of this word) listeners to sing ;-)  Shirley and Lu were wonderful and lots of fun. I think you'll enjoy the series.

The series will begin tomorrow; Thursday, November 16, 2006. I'm not sure of the exact time of my interview but the King of Kings show runs from 5pm to 7pm (i.e., UTC 9.00am), Monday to Friday. The second and third parts will be broadcast next Thursday (November 23) and the Thursday after that (November 30) respectively.

If you miss the show, the archives will be available from the King of Kings archive pages: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Interesting and perhaps confusing; I don't really sing very much Chinese during the interviews, but we explain that later on in the series. And for all of you who care, I promise to sing more Cantonese in the future.

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed recording it with Shirley and Lu.

Interview on Teen Time, RTHK Radio 3 (20061114)

Filed in Entertainment Ind., Press

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from one of my blog's readers by the name of Lenny Wu. He wrote:

I'm just wondering, can you contact this friend? She's a radio DJ for RTHK Radio 3. Her name is Alyson Hau. Here's her website. I dunno if you got anything to say for Teen Time. :) Teen Time is from 9-10pm. It would be nice to hear you speak English. :D

Well, I wrote to Alyson and she liked the idea, so we recorded the interview last week. It's in English so you can all hear my Aussie accent ;-) The interview is light but also serious near the end because I explain an idea of mine that might help many of the struggling actors and production people in the entertainment industry.

Alyson is amazing. She's young, talented, smart, beautiful, and she's fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Nothing's going to stop her getting where she wants to go.

Teen Time runs weekdays from 9 to 10pm Hong Kong time, i.e., 1pm UTC time. My interview will be in tonight's show, November 14. Mark your calendars.

If you miss the show tonight, you can listen to the archive which will be available after the broadcast.

Break a Leg Toe!

Filed in General, Health, Life, MemoirsTags: , , , ,

In show business, people wish each other 'break a leg' meaning that they wish success for the person they're talking to. Perhaps, I've unwittingly taken this good luck wish to a whole new level.

A week ago while walking with a few of our kids, I was walking rather lazily and stubbed one of my small toes on a tree root sticking out of the ground. It hurt but I didn't think much of it. After all, who among us has never stubbed their toe? I continued the walk and an hour or so later returned home.

I did what any experienced person would do with an injury. I iced my toes two or three times, ten minutes each time. This flushes the blood out of the injured area carrying debris with it and allows new healthy blood to enter in its place.

Before going to bed that night, I was aware of swelling in my foot and hoped that it would go away after a night's rest.

It didn't, at least, not completely. When I woke up, my toe and foot were still mildly swollen. Since my wife had to visit our family doctor to examine an arm injury, I decided to go with her.

xray of broken toe

The red circles on these two xrays indicate the position of the break just above the head of the fourth phalange (toe bone).

Our doctor looked at my toe and promptly reported that one of the phalanges (i.e., toe bones) was probably cracked. An xray would be needed to confirm it. We went upstairs to another medical clinic and took the xrays. When we returned and showed our doctor, he was noticeably stunned. The phalange was not cracked. It was broken!

I was lucky though. The bone broke and then reconnected itself. I won't need a surgery or a screw to connect the pieces. I'll just need rest and time.

So now I have to keep my walking to a bare minimum for the next four weeks and I have a new walking stick to help keep the weight off my right foot when I'm walking. And I'm not allowed to wear shoes. I can wear my Birkenstock sandals but not closed shoes. I'm not sure how I'm going to work around this when filming my current TVB series but we'll see. For a further four weeks, I'll be able to walk but will have to take care nonetheless.

But I believe that the broken toe has a purpose. My wife and I originally planned to go to Finland or Africa for the last two weeks of December, but that's not going to be possible now. I believe that something important is going to happen in those two weeks that would not be possible if we had left Hong Kong. We'll just have to wait and see.

In the future, I'll try not to be so literal when people bid me 'break a leg'. Oh. Wait a minute. I've already done that. I broke my right thema femur back in 1977 while trying to rescue one of our cats (I think it was Jacob) off the roof of our house.

1977. In the Gympie Memorial Hospital with a broken leg.

Just for you, I've scanned a newspaper photograph taken while I was in the Gympie Memorial Hospital recovering from a broken thema. Cute, don't you think?

For a 750x550 version, click here.

I was in hospital for 11 weeks and enjoyed most of my time there; watching horror movies on TV at night, playing with the nurses including one great male nurse, drawing, painting and more.

I developed a serious crush for the nurse on the right. She was wonderful. A few years after leaving the hospital, I accidentally came upon her again at her home while walking house to house for a Scouts Bob-a-Job fund raiser. That was a happy day and also the last time I saw her. I pray she is well.

In any case, for the time being, just call me Dr House. Believe it or not, Dr House and I have many similarities. We are both injured on the right side and walk with canes with very similar gaits. We both share the name Greg/Gregory. We've both studied medicine, and of course, we're both good looking ;-)

Bob-a-Job. A Scout fund raiser where scouts go from door to door asking to perform any chores available in return for any remuneration the other party was willing to pay. Historically 'bob' was slang for an English shilling. (here is another good read about Bob-a-Job.)

In my days as a scout, the chores I performed included cleaning shoes, mowing lawns, and painting houses, walls, etc.

In some countries, Bob-a-Job is now known as Job Week, and in some countries, it has been cancelled completely because of fears of abuse; people unfairly paying little for difficult chores. The world as we know it continues to degenerate.

A Few Extra Days

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), Music, Music: My Songs, TravelTags: , ,

It was Peisha's idea. Almost from the beginning of our time together, Peisha strongly recommended that I have a 'product' to take home with me. She meant that I should record a couple of songs, if only to show the folks at home just how much I had improved.

I wasn't totally sold on the idea at first. It was the potential financial cost of doing the recordings that kept me from committing to the idea, but as time went on, as my voice continued to improve, and as I discovered more and more songs that I loved, I grew more attracted to the idea. After three weeks of being with Peisha, I made the decision to record the songs. It's a decision that I'll never regret, and I'll forever be grateful to Peisha for her encouragement and insistence that I do the recordings.

Peisha knows people. That shouldn't come as a surprise. She has been in the music community for many years, and she's a highly respected member. Many of the people that she knows are very talented, and so I could only be optimistic when she chose someone to record my voice and arrange the music. His name was Chris Hardin.

Chris is probably as busy as Peisha. Most exceptionally talented people tend to be busy most of the time. They're always in demand. Chris' schedule was tight but we found a slot of time that we could spend with him after one of my lessons with Peisha. Unfortunately, half way through my lesson with Peisha, it was quite obvious that I was far too tired to go to a recording studio. Without questioning me in any way, and quite aware of the reality of the situation, Peisha called Chris and we were fortunately able to organise another session time.

Remember how I said that those few extra days that I stayed in L.A. turned out to be invaluable? Now you know why.

Our first session with Chris was on Monday, the day after I had originally planned to leave L.A. Monday was a great time slot because it allowed me to rest my voice over the weekend. I did a little warmup with Peisha at her studio and we then drove over to Chris' home studio.

On the evening of Monday the 20th of October, we recorded my first song: "This is the Moment". We recorded this song first because we knew it was going to be the hardest vocally. By the time I had sung through it four or five times in Chris' studio, I was worn out. It's a very tough song to sing with lots of high sustained notes, but, it turned out fine.

In the studio, Chris recorded a very basic piano background while following the sheet music. I then recorded my voice to that background.

On Tuesday, Peisha and I went back and recorded two more songs: "For Once in My Life" and another that I'll keep as a surprise for you. With "For Once in My Life", Chris again recorded a basic piano background to which I recorded my voice. He added many of the other instruments while we were there. It was incredible to watch him work. His musical talent is amazing. And I think he was really enjoying himself arranging that song. He was obviously having fun with it which made it fun for us too.

The third song was a little different. I recorded my voice first, roughly, without music, so that Chris could hear it and analyse the chords. That's because I didn't have any sheet music for the song, and I didn't want him to hear the original so that he would have to create something new. Chris then listened to my voice recording and in real time wrote down the chords on a sheet of lyrics that I had printed for him. In real time! The man is astonishing. What else can I say? Chris then used the chords to play a basic piano background for me to which I then recorded the final voice.

Over the next week, Chris added instruments and finalised the arrangements for each the songs.

…    …    …

One week after returning to Hong Kong, I received mp3 versions of the songs in my email. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I have now listened to them so many times that I've lost count. My wife said that the songs were simply 「百聽不厭」. They're understandably already on her iPod.

Peisha was so right in insisting that I record the songs. Without the songs, I might have gradually over time forgotten what I had learnt in L.A., but the songs have shown me what I can do and they've given me renewed confidence and enthusiasm, something I desperately needed. These songs are without doubt one of the many miracles in my life.

Now it's your turn. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Links to the three songs are listed below. The last song is a surprise. It's also one of my all-time favourites. Even Peisha and Chris loved it. Once you've heard the song, you'll understand why that's so special.

Have fun.

All songs:
Sung by Gregory Charles Rivers 河國榮
Arranged by Chris Hardin of Chris Hardin Entertainment
Directed by Peisha McPhee

Song 1: This is the Moment from the stage musical Jekyl and Hyde, written by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn.

Song 2: For Once in My Life written by Stevie Wonder

Song 3: Should I? (a surprise ;-)