beautiful white men shall tell us what beauty is... sigh.

please, meet the beautiful, proud, diverse men who knows how to truly appreciates what we should all look up as beautiful and aesthetically sound examples from the western arts world: from left top, clockwise: richard morrison, michael church, rupert christiansen, andrew clements, all highly-qualified, uber-intelligent and so influential that they get paid to write personal judgement on women's appearance instead of musical reviews.

could not find an appropriate jpeg of andrew clark, writing for the financial times. may be there's a reason. unsightly?

so recently, five delusionall-powerful white male music critics (can we say stereotypical?) wrote their heartfelt review of the rosenkavalier at the glyndebourne festival, saturday night.

hey, it's opera, obviously, we NEED to look how the women looks? after all, fat men can still deliver beautiful music, but women... no, their physical beauty must comply with each individual man's dream list (whatever it may be), and it seems that every single one of them cannot stand the idea of woman of size- too thin, too tall, too short, too fat. 

in this case, too fat, apparently.

the choice that glyndebourne festival made was against all standard of beauty, apparently, so clearly stated in these men's words.  the physical presence of the irish mezzo, tara erraught brought emotional distress so great that the five critics could not write music reviews; instead, they turned into TMZ style reports.

for mr. clark, for the financial times: (ms. erraught's) octavian is a chubby bundle of puppy fat.

for mr. clements, in the guardian: it was hard to imagine this stocky octavian as... lover.

for mr. church, for the independent: (ms. erraught) has the demeanor of a scullery-maid.

for mr. christiansen in the telegraph: (ms. erraught) is a dumpy of stature... her costuming makes her resemble something between heidi and just william.

for mr. morrison, in the times of london: unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing.

whoa. cuz apparently, those men, as we see in their public photos, are the prime example of beauty themselves.  i wont ask what size their pants are, or how much they can benchpress. i should assume that they are truly aware of what can be beautiful, because obviously, as music critiques, the main focus was to discuss how a woman looked.
so intelligent: cue: roaring clap and excited audience noise.

it's almost like these old men are incredibly jealous of her youth, beauty and yes, musical gift. because, you know, the guys at the glyndebourne festival have no idea about how to pick people for roles, being such amateurs- but hey, these guys do! we should pay these white, self-important males of the G20 western european roots to set what is only right: acceptable standard of beauty.

in their footsteps, i am now practicing proper journalism. thanks, you five old men. i cant believe you guys found the time to share your knowledge and thoughts about how we should shape the world. (it paid, i guess)

oooh that's right. if you werent paid, perhaps you wouldnt even bother talking to rest of us, the world that is not beautiful, as we are clearly not worthy of you.  (what is that? a critic? what does he create? nothing? surely they are good for something? chauvinism? mysogeny? double standards? portrayal of malicious old people who are gone senile?)

for mr. clark: (your reviewer character) is an unattractive saggy bag of white male sprimacy.

for mr. clements: it's hard to imagine this shallow, chauvinist reviewer as this lovely singer's plausible reviewer.

for mr. church: (this reviwer) has the demeanor of demented, delusional while male from G20 countries, power-tripping.

for mr. christiansen: (he) is arrogant in impression and... his his publicity photo makes him resemble a cheap-shot favouring pretend-journalist, something between mindless chauvinist and mean-spirited white man.

for mr. morrison: unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing.

perhaps im lacking serious level of finesse. sorry, gentlemen, i must go work on my literary devices and general education of aesthetics and whoops, a minor in properly-focused article writing skills before i can properly comply to your standards.

such beautiful men can go stay in the little holes they live in with like-minded beautiful people, just like the good old greco-roman days where the slaves and sub-citizens were the key to maintain their beautiful lives... let the rest of the world, full of people with flaws, which makes them beautiful, prosper without prejudice and with loads of true intelligence.

after all, they were paid to write a music review, not a mean-spirited weight-focus group judgement.  oops. reading comprehension... once again. foiled.

any of them care to tell us what their pants size is? prob not.


'misogyny cleanup in premium whiskey aisle, please'

illustration: cathy wilcox,

today i was at the LCBO on king and spadina.  on a quest to find the magic whiskey to celebrate the end of the year, was my friends were coming over for dinner- had soda water, ice, just... whiskey! (we have a healthy stock at home, so yeah, this really was the magic unicorn chalice chase)

so i thought this would be a good branch to walk into.
hmm. may be.

as a  young-ish small asian girl, i waited for the floor helper to approach me. he (in his 50s i guessed) went and served a gentleman in his 50s.  okay, we walked in at the same time. i will wait.

then he went over to another man, in his early 40s, talking in great details about the 'premium' stock.

as he was making a pass to a third man, he asked the obligatory question:
did you find everything?
are you looking for a gift?

i was quite a bit shocked. REALLY?

monkey: nah, was looking for something classy but i see all you have in stock is leftovers from 20th century middle class.

man: (confused) aha, you were looking for something in particular?

monkey: well, something with grace, like glenfarclas 17 or laphroaig 18 but i dont think youve got refinement here today.

i left the confused man behind. i dont think he really got my point.

i live in 21st century, in safe and prosperous G20 country.  i live in a metropolis filled with all kinds of interesting people. majority of the population in this city would claim that they have educated themselves to be fair, square and to be without prejudice.

of course, i get it. i may not have been the most exemplary customer for the high-end whiskey.  however, if i was older, and more importantly (and problematically) if i was a man- it makes me wonder if i was asked the same question; after all, he did ask two other people if '(they) found what (they) were looking for?'

recent news, as always, are stained with different issues. however, this issue of embedded sexism is troublesome.  i was sincerely shocked when particular conservative american media worried about hilary clinton's presidential campaign because she was going to be a grandmother.  WHAT? HOW?

the north american gender earning gap continues to exist (and become even larger differences year after year, especially concerning the higher-tier business management positions).

even in europe and north america, in immigrant families and non-immigrant families, often the boys take priority over the girls.  in education funding. in all kinds of opportunities. in social freedom and customs.  honour killings are still a reality.

arranged marriages all over the world happens against the girls' wishes.

female genital mutilation.

countless female fetuses that never saw the light of the day, as parents chose abortion over birth, for hope of having a boy.

and lately, boko haram nigerian girls abduction, the poor girls, who became pawns of war, of extreme misogynists.  of course, boko haram as a special interest group may hold many different meanings but the matter of the fact is, from the point they involved innocent girls as power-bargain chips illustrates their lack of respect for women.  in my mind, not only they are violent sub-group, they are foremost misogynists.

whiskey situation was funny. sure.
but it does make me wonder how long these built-in sexism and gender inequity will continue on in the name of 'small (and/therefore large) matters.'


... and her voice turned to tears.


tis a grey spring day in yyz and things are finally slowing down- which often means letting one's own guard down; when things are busy, often i cannot afford time to be emotional (in name of efficiency).  so with extra time within the day, i dwell, rethink and formulate those feelings that may have been caged in for a bit.

on 16 april 2014, a korean ship sank into the brutal water.  there are many speculations how the situation couldve been handled, but at the end, 23 days later, there are still over thirty people missing. undercurrent speed reaching up to 4m/s, divers are trying to find the bodies through 'feeling things through,' as visibility is poor.

following the news update daily, i tried to not look into it as much as i can, as month of april was still rolling on full-steam.

i eyed 26th and tightened mentally, the day of my younger brother's death, now four years ago.

on 01 may, i completed a particularly difficult recital project and headed to hear mahler 9th with toronto symphony with sir andrew davis.

then it hit me full steam.

kindertotenlieder's text is written by friedrich ruckert in 1833-34, as the poet lost two his his children to scarlet fever. mahler worked on kindertotenlider, 1901-04; in 1907, little maria mahler died with scarlet fever; later in the year, the man himself was diagnosed with a heart defect.  as he work on the 9th symphony, 1909, the little daughter who he buried in his heart grew, grew so dearly and mahler's heart breaks.  in 1910, mahler starts to wind down, his heart beating weaker and weaker, till the day it stops, on 18 may 1911.

mahler 9th is his last completed work.  a man who may have known his end is near, perhaps from his gifted neuroticism.  starting with andante comodo, perhaps the man is leaving the world behind- after life-filled second and third movement, we get to the last movement- zuruckhaltened (very slow and held back)- with heart-wrenching quotation from the kindertotenlieder- man with bursting heart, returning to his daughter, good bye, world.

four years ago, 27 april, day after the crash, i met gabe for the last time in the coroner's office.  he was broken.  he looked like himself. but then, he didnt look anything like himself.  when i looked into his eyes and found nothing back, i realized he's left us.

all these school children in the boat, who sank deeply under the sea, some of them are still missing. perhaps missing forever.  their parents are waiting. friends. the world.


'...they have only just gone out
and now they will be coming back home.
the day is fine, don't be dismayed,
they have just gone for a long walk...'
(from 'oft denk'ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen')

'...in this weather, in this gale, in this windy storm,
they rest as if in their mother's house:
frightened by no storm,
sheltered by the hand of god.'
(from 'in diesem wetter', kindertotenlieder)

all these families, waiting for their child to return- but with the furious undercurrent and cold, freezing water, these kids may no longer retain any of their vitality, life, joy and hope.  may be few of them have gone out.  may be the lost ones are sheltered by the hand of god.

the mothers. children.
the brothers, sisters, friends.
the kids who would have been frighted to head out.
the waiting ones who are frightened, worried to tears that they never will get to hold their loved ones for the last time.  the children who may have wished peace and final good bye, said in deafening silence under the cold water and darkness: we love you- the weather is fair on the hills...  as is separated by a big sound-proof glass, the little ones desperately wanting to tell the living ones how much they love their family, the living wishing to see their loved ones one more time-

my mother did not get to see gabe for the last time, as i brought him in a little box, held tight by my heart.  but she's held him.  many mothers in this particular tragedy may never get to hold their loved ones.  meanwhile, the children quietly left the world, andante comodo.

i cried. oh i cried during that last movement.  the loses.  the pain.  soaring lines and glorious brass, low resonance of the strings. roaring storms.

today, i made a mistake on the phone.
my mother called me on the phone and i accidentally slipped my thoughts into the conversation.  mom. the lost children. i was thinking about them. i was thinking about how you never got to see gabe for the last time.  i can feel the pain of the mothers who are waiting by the shore, the ship crash.

her voice became tears.


oh life. life life life.
you are difficult and demanding.
you are painful and real.
how we learn to love- then to be torn apart.  only thing that's left is the hope of joining them later. in mother's house.

today, i listen to mahler 9th again, after turning my mother's voice into tears.  the pizzicatos, the harp. raining tears to the big ocean of human sorrow- only thing i can say is love.


endless love. the continuous passage of love.
and pining hearts.

*picture credit: http://media.daum.net/society/others/newsview?newsid=20140507180609061