Taiwan Podcasts 聽台灣播客(Podcast)

Podcasts have really taken off over the last couple of years but Chinese-language podcasts from Taiwan have been rather limited, with most just being radio segments repackaged for podcast platforms. However, recently more have taken off, so I thought I’d feature them here and you can feel free to share more in the comments section! I’ve focused on Chinese-language podcasts here, although there are also an increasing amount of English-language podcasts too.

Ghost Island Media:

大麻煩不煩 (Weed Problems?):
This is a great intro into Taiwan’s weed landscape, informing people of their rights in terms of getting stopped and searched by police, what to do if you’re arrested, and the progress of efforts to legalize weed in Taiwan for medical or other uses. (Links to different platforms listed on site)
5/5 Recommended

台灣通勤第一品牌 (Commute For Me):
Haven’t heard much of this and it seems a little disorganized, but the first episode explores Chinese-language slang across the Taiwan Strait. It seems to feature a lot of in-jokes and the hosts laughing at how funny they are.
Spotify
Apple Podcast
Soundcloud

股癌 GooAye
Stock podcast. Structured well and brings in a lot of cultural and movie references. 5/5 Recommended
Spotify
Apple Podcast
YouTube

Firstory Lab 最偏激的Podcast
Tried one episode which consisted of a group of guys making fun of the way a female host spoke. Maybe it gets better if you listen from the start?

If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments section below!

Readers Recommend (Update):
WetBoys 潤男的Room recommended by Erik K. (NSFW mens issues)
百靈果 Bailingguo News (bilingual news podcast) and Spotify Podcast Chart recommended by Matthew Ryan
馬力歐陪你喝一杯 DrinkWithMario recommended by William Peregoy (Interviews)

KMT Protest Against Chen Chu’s Appointment as President of the Control Yuan

KMT supporters protesting Chen Chu’s (陳菊) appointment to the presidency of the Control Yuan, with the slogans 「拒絕酬庸撤換陳菊」 (Reject cronyism, withdraw Chen Chu), 「民主已死,暴政必亡」 (Democracy is dead, tyranny must fall) and 「民心已死,還我民主」(The hopes of the people are dead, give us back our democracy). There was a middling crowd outside the Legislative Yuan in the morning, where KMT legislators occupied the floor. These were taken after work.

Use your phone as your EasyCard with Samsung Pay: Update

Now you can use a virtual EasyCard in your Samsung Pay wallet for all your EasyCard needs, including MRT turnstiles, YouBike rentals and mobile payments by EasyCards. First go to your Samsung Pay app, and click the EasyCard option on the front page (if you don’t see this, you should do a software update on your phone or check if your model is compatible):

Continue reading

EasyCard Wallet Mobile Payment App (finally) Foreign Resident Friendly: Update

True to their word, just as all the introductory offers are ending, the EasyCard Corporation have held their noses and finally allowed foreign residents to register for their EasyCard Wallet app at the end of May (they should probably add this in English on the Play Store too):

The May 29th update, includes registration being opened to ARC holders in Taiwan, along with under 20s and resolving some other small issues.

You can either click on 「悠遊卡付專屬」 or 「我的」 as below:

Continue reading

Book Review: ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong

While ostensibly chronicling his family history, from the war-torn Vietnam his mother and schizophrenic grandmother witnessed, to the immigrant experience in the US, the author of this novel provides a breathtaking look at contemporary America, from morphine addiction to racial and class-based inequality and the politics of integration and queerness.

The novel is structured as a letter to the author’s mother, who cannot read in English, giving the author license to say things that he may never have been able to communicate with her in their common tongue, which the author describes as follows:

“The Vietnamese I own is the one you gave me, the one whose diction and syntax reach only the second-grade level. […] a time capsule, a mark of where your education ended, ashed. Ma, to speak in our mother tongue is to speak only partially in Vietnamese, but entirely in war.”

All through the book, the author plays with language in a fascinating way, at times veering into poetry, at times examining language itself, facilitated perhaps by the distance provided by his mother’s unfamiliarity with the English language:

“How often do we name something after its briefest form? Rose bush, rain, butterfly, snapping turtle, firing squad, childhood, death, mother tongue, me, you.”

For me, as well as its emotional impact, many parts of the book have a powerful wit and humour to them which made me linger over certain passages.

The immigrant experience in the US (although one could also say more generally) is captured in passages such as the one that follows, about the nail salon in which his mother works:

“In the nail salon, sorry is a tool one uses to pander until the word itself becomes currency. It no longer merely apologizes, but insists, reminds: I’m here, right here, beneath you. It is the lowering of oneself so that the client feels right, superior, and charitable. In the nail salon one’s definition of sorry is deranged into a new word entirely, one that’s charged and reused as both power and defacement at once. Being sorry pays, being sorry even, or especially, when one has no fault, is worth every self-deprecating syllable the mouth allows. Because the mouth must eat.”

The author later echoes his mother’s self-deprecation, while working on a tobacco plantation, when he meets his first lover for the first time:

“I would know only later that he was Buford’s grandson, working the farm to get away from his vodka-soaked old man. And because I am your son, I said “Sorry.” Because I am your son, my apology had become, by then, an extension of myself. It was my H

But the novel also touches on other issues in the US, like the impact of the marketing of oxycontin by the pharmaceutical industry to doctors leading to drug dependency among wide swathes of the US population and the overdose deaths of many of the author’s friends.

What I loved about the book was how real the author seemed in his thought patterns, in the realistic way memories flitted up during conversation and associations click in his mind, even if they weren’t verbalized by the character at that time. There is also an honesty to the portrayal of his sexual experiences which makes them rawer and more real. Think Peep Show‘s portrayal of sex without the comic aspect. I also liked how real his coming out conversation is with his mother, as the ball is taken completely out of his court as she confronts him with her own truths, which I think is part of a lot of people’s coming out experience.

One of the tidbits of cultural information about Vietnam was about the use of drag performers in funeral processions, which is similar but different to the gaudy performances at Taiwanese funerals:

“City coroners, underfunded, don’t always work around the clock. When someone dies in the middle of the night, they get trapped in a municipal limbo where the corpse remains inside its death. As a response, a grassroots movement was formed as a communal salve. Neighbors, having learned of a sudden death, would, in under an hour, pool money and hire a troupe of drag performers for what was called “delaying sadness” […] It’s through the drag performers’ explosive outfits and gestures, their overdrawn faces and voices, their tabooed trespass of gender, that this relief, through extravagant spectacle, is manifest. As much as they are useful, paid, and empowered as a vital service in a society where to be queer is still a sin, the drag queens are, for as long as the dead lie in the open, an othered performance. Their presumed, reliable fraudulence is what makes their presence, to the mourners, necessary. Because, grief, at its worst, is unreal. And it calls for a surreal response.”

Anyway, there’s so much more that I don’t really know how to describe, but a great read, would definitely recommend.

5/5

MRT Poetry: ‘A Red Pine at Dusk’ by Lin Yu 林彧的〈黃昏的赤松〉

黃昏的赤松

回家的路上,我撥算鳥聲
每滴啁啾都在雕刻著你的寂靜

你伸出的枝枒正準備迎接
黑幕垂降,樹臂要拋扔星斗

轉入晚年的小徑,我知道
黃昏不昏,赤松赤心

A Red Pine At Dusk

On my way home, I count the bird calls on my abacus
Every chirp and tweet carves your silence

You extend your branches in welcome
To the fall of night’s black canvas, your limbs want to toss away the stars

As you turn on to the path of your Autumn years, I know
Dusk isn’t dusky, the red pine has a keen red heart

Lin Yu is a poet from Guangxing in Lugu, Nantou. He was born in 1957 and after a career working in journalism and editing, he returned to his hometown to run a tea shop.

MRT Poetry: ‘The Beginning of Spring’ by Zhan Che 捷運詩:詹澈的〈立春〉

立春

立春,雨把姿勢放軟了
紅日遲遲,還似深冬結痂的傷口
左右搖擺的夢境,有聲音潑啦
看見童年騎在牛背上,從水中走來

The Beginning of Spring

At the beginning of spring, the rain slouches
The sun is sluggish, like a wound that has scabbed in deep winter
The dreamscape sways back and forth with the splish-splashing
I see my childhood years riding on an ox back, walking towards me from the water

Zhan Che (詹澈 (Chan Chao-li) is a Taiwanese poet from Changhua. He has worked on various poetry journals and magazines, including founding Grassroots, and has long campaigned for local farmers’ rights.

Book Review: ‘Taipei Dad, New York Mom’ by Mickey Chen 書評:陳俊志的《台北爸爸/紐約媽媽》

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Initially, I was quite excited by this book, as I’d previously watched a documentary by this late director (I reviewed it here). The book starts off with a moving account of the disintegration of the author’s family and the effect of his sister’s death on him and the larger family.

As the book develops, however, the same story is repeated ad nauseum and seemed almost like the author was trying to impose his own moral interpretation of his riches to rags story on the reader. The tone also seemed more appropriate to the essay format, rather than a long-form novel as he seemed to get a bit lost in his own narration after giving the broad strokes of the initial story. There are interesting aspects to the narrative. In the context of the gay marriage referendum, there has been a shift towards conservatism within the gay movement, and this has led to clashes within the movement, between those attempting to be inclusive to the extent of embracing what they call “chem sex culture” and BDSM fans and those in pursuit of (what their opponents would call) heteronormativity. The author seems pulled by these two conflicting strands of the gay community throughout, which may be what drives his switches between the first and third person at points throughout the book.

I’ve never really been a fan of autobiographies and towards the end of the book, it started to grate on my nerves a bit. The author teases the reader a little by suggesting he’s going to reveal the details of his life, but apart from brief references to a few of his relationships, a disjointed scene where we assume he’s having chem sex, the author’s main purpose throughout the novel seems to be to air the dirty laundry of the rest of his family members, while he maintains a Madonna-like status of victimhood throughout. There’s a lot of anger and resentment in the book, and this comes across in passive-aggressive comments and made the book come across as quite monotonous. Whereas in fictional works like Moonlight, there is a layer of separation between the author/director and the anger of the protagonist towards their family, the first person narrative here left us with nowhere to go, as the author doesn’t seem willing to reflect on the larger social context and systematic problems surrounding his family’s downfall in the same way that Moonlight tries to give the protagonist’s mother a human side.

We almost get to a scene comparable to the scene in Moonlight when the author faces his father’s mortality, but it doesn’t have the same impact for me as the film. Reading the book was almost like listening to someone you don’t know gossip about the people in their life, or someone showing you their family photo album. As a reader, I found it hard to care. Maybe due to the author’s familiarity with his family members, we’re never given a complete picture of them, just who they are as they relate to him, and, frequently, how they’ve victimized him. The central theme of the book is the tragedy that occurs in the author’s childhood. The tone flits between brief moments in which the author portrays something genuinely moving, snarky quips, boasting and wallowing in self-pity. While it’s nice that the author broke up the heaviness of the tragic portrayal of his sister’s death and his family’s disintegration, the other bits of the book felt a little posed, and there was a lot of name-dropping. Essentially they are there to show us what a famous, witty and high-performing luvvie the author is despite the loss of his sister and the break-up of his family home initiated by his father.

If I were to take a more cynical view on the change between the first and third person I mentioned above, it could be seen as an attempt to “be literary”. Combined with certain other comments throughout the book like “The small hole in the back of the intricate doll, now looking back, of course, was a massive symbol for leaving my carefree childhood”, just came across as pretentious attempts to sound educated. I felt this came across in a passage in which the author talks about drug-fueled sexual experiences at the Taiwan Youth Park, and he switches from the first to the third person, reflecting perhaps the disassociation that he feels from taking Ketamine:

一直到青年公園成為台灣gay beach才懂得一枚渾圓無瑕的屁眼是如此的人間至樂。沖澡間總有誘人的底迪無邪地以屁眼向你召喚,一起騎了車吃完建中黑糖剉冰就是如奶蜜甜糖的幹底迪床戲。IKEA夏日涼床上好多美麗的男孩永恆停留在他們高潮來前童稚的眉頭微蹙,屁眼戲劇性地陡地縮緊也忍不住要射了的迷離K世界,我想起古典的英國文學史課堂上那些草原芬芳的下午。男孩們滿足的輕喟很快在你身上趴著睡著,包裹著他們青春身體的甜淡香味,穿透裊裊迴繞的Rush餘韻,直撲鼻端讓我跌入底迪歳月曾經那麼無邪的往事如煙。

老去的男人後來綿延璀璨的性史再也沒法像古典時期那麼甜美可人了。隨手翻到一頁,聞了Rush嗑了E用了勾媚兒的性愛體驗,在鐵皮書裡用最複雜的符碼象徵交互指涉,都難以取代陰莖屁眼乳頭霎時的萬般感受。一沙一世界,蔓延展開成花花天地。 屁眼生出花朵,陽具是燦爛的樹。他感到自己的身體變成一本巨大的鐵皮書,鏤刻著感官的年輪和耳語的密碼。在我耳邊輕輕呢喃,身體就是記憶。

It wasn’t until the Taiwan Youth Park became Taiwan’s gay beach that he understood how much earthly pleasure could be derived from a perfectly round asshole. In the shower rooms there were always seductive twinks, beckoning you over brazenly with their assholes, then after riding a motorcycle together and eating shaved ice with brown sugar from the shop beside Jianguo High School, it was time for the even sweeter treat of fucking them. Lots of pretty boys will remain frozen with their brow slightly furrowed in the childish expression that comes just before an orgasm on an IKEA sun lounger, their assholes suddenly tightening dramatically as I can’t stop myself cumming in that blurry world of K, I thought of the fragrant scent of afternoons on the moors from my English Literature classes. The boys would sigh gently in satisfaction and then cuddle against you to sleep, as you hold their youthful bodies, with their faint sweet smell, with the lingering whiffs of the leftover Rush adding to the mix, and as the smell hits the nostrils you fall into the naivete just like that of youth, and the past goes up in smoke.

As men age, the ongoing resplendent sexual history is never as sweet and innocent as the classical era. Perusing to a certain page, sexual experience with the smell of rush, on E and Foxy Methoxy (5-MEO-Dipt), implying each other’s guilt with the most complex of symbols in an iron corrugated book, it’s hard to replace the myriad momentary sensations of the penis, the asshole and the nipple. The world on a grain of sand, spreading out and blossoming everywhere. A flower blossoms from the asshole, the penis is an awesome tree. He felt his entire body had turned into an iron-clad book, with the age rings of sensation and the codes of whispered nothings. Whispering in my ear, the body is memory itself.

I liked the fact that he inserted an apparently random thought into a sexual experience, as it made it ring truer, but everything the author does seems aimed at proving his extensive learning, which is why the random thought is about his English Literature classes.

In another of the brief interludes where we get a glimpse of the author himself and not just his family, he talks about his sexual relationship with one of his long-term partners:

晚上我們總是到純樸的民家洗澡,一鎖門,老羅和我熾熱摸索彼此。滑膩的肥皂泡沫穿過我們的股溝,我們挺直的陰莖。門外的部隊同儕不耐地敲門問詢,春光乍洩的梁朝偉啐了口水,猛烈進入張國榮,沒有KY,沒有保險套。這是我們最初芬芳的乙醚記憶,在意亂情迷的夏夜,穿透了層層記憶而來。

At night we always went to the rustic local showers. As soon as we locked the door Lao Luo and I would start passionately groping at each other. The soap suds flowed between our buttocks and around our erect cocks. Our army mates would knock impatiently on the door as Tony Leung from Happy Together spits as he enters Leslie Cheung, without any KY, without a condom. This was our diethyl ether-scented first memory, entranced with passion on a Summer evening, and it cuts through layer upon layer of memory to emerge again.

Some of the author’s comments on class are a bit over the top, particularly as he’s aware himself that he’s one generation away from a similar level of poverty. He’s constantly emphasizing how educated he is as a way to elevate himself:

那一年,我和老羅都剛退伍,我繼續在補習班教英文,努力存錢準備出國留學。他是油漆工人,下工後愛喝小酒,和朋友打電動玩具和柏青哥。我們沒有共同的朋友,我討厭他的狐群狗黨,他覺得我的朋友都是外星人。我們兩人一旦吵架,沒有緩衝地帶,沒有調停人,只有兩個人硬碰硬對幹。年輕的我們總是不明白,有些時候,再怎麼深刻的愛情是跨不了階級這一關的。

That year, when Lao Luo and I had just gotten out of the army, I continued to teach English at a cram school, working hard to earn money to study abroad. He worked painting houses, and when he got off work he liked to go for a tipple, and play arcade and pachinko games with his friends. We had no friends in common and I hated the pack of scoundrels he hung out with, whereas he thought all my friends were from another planet. As soon as we started to argue, there was no buffer zone, there was noone to mediate, there was just the two of us clashing hard and going after each other. Young as we were, we didn’t understand that sometimes, no matter how deep the love you feel, it can’t cross the class divide.

One interesting aspect of the narrative is how the mainlander/local Taiwanese division functioned beside class divisions. His father’s family is local Taiwanese, which plays a large part in his father’s rags to riches story. The author’s paternal aunt marries a 「不愛講話的外省老芋仔」 (a taciturn mainlander), who is 30 years older than she is. Another of his paternal aunts manages to escape from a 「wife-beater」only to marry a butcher who starts another family on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. When she goes to confront her husband’s wife in China about this, the fight that results makes the local paper in Guangzhou and the author jokingly refers to it as 「為國爭光」(winning glory for one’s country). The author’s father is said to have a consistently patriarchal attitude to everything that befalls his sisters, even though they are often providing him money to provide him investment for his hair-brained get-rich-quick schemes and bail him out of financial trouble.

Overall, it’s worth a read, although it might wear on your nerves a bit. The author, also a director, passed away recently.

 

 

 

 

海邊

Conor他們已經上了客運要從海邊回到城市。雖然曬傷了,不過身體還沒感覺,只是全身疲憊,終於可以坐下來了很舒服。因為整晚都在眾多篝火之間跳舞、玩水,所以除了體味,J跟K兩個人身上還有一股煙味,混著海水留下的那種腥味。客運坐滿了跟他們一樣過完了篝火節要回城市的人,因此,他們不能跟平常一樣坐在前後兩排的雙人座,隔著椅背講話,只能並坐在同一張椅子上。雖然空間有限,J還是照常地把雙腿張開。K感到J的腿輕輕地貼著自已的腿,臉稍微熱了起來。車離開車站的時候,J已經睡著了,但K還沒有睡意,一直看著窗外。海平線那兒,晨光剛開始流過海面,覺得很美。

K不知道他女生朋友L昨晚什麼時候就不見了。她晚上很直接地跟J調情,接下來一起消失了一陣子,令K遍尋不著。K本來以為他們應該是去上床了,但他們回來後氣氛就變的怪怪的,J在K耳邊說了什麼不配,就婉拒了,但細節K不是很清楚。從那之後,L的表情就一直很臭,大概是生氣了,不過K也不知道他們消失的那段時間到底發生了甚麼事情。他問J,J也只是聳了一下肩膀,就不想理她了。接著他伸出手臂,摟住K的肩膀,把他拉到另外一群圍繞著篝火坐的人那邊,他們便又開始喝了,也沒再談到這件事。那夜沒再看到L,K也沒有特別不開心。

車上,J的頭漸漸地往K的肩膀那邊垂落,隨著J睡得越來越沉,他每次把頭收回去的動作就弱了一些,到最後直接貼著K的肩膀,就停在那裡了。引擎的轉動漸漸騷動K的大腿,讓他開始隱隱有了感覺,他不由自主地瞄了J肌肉發達的小腿,腿毛濃密,再往上看就是短褲的界線,隱約露出那條一邊黧黑、一邊白嫩的曬痕。K心虛地往四周看了一下,就把目光移到J裸裎的上身:結實的胸肌線條、粉紅的奶頭、肚子下方那一條繼續往短褲內奔走的毛,短褲內也可以隱隱看見一個輪廓。K感覺到自己的下體也被叫醒似的,還來不及想到別的事情,就有動靜了。假設J現在醒來,他一定會看到,也會看穿K。但K沒有立刻反應,決定要冒這個險,所幸過了一陣子,J還是睡得很熟,K就把依然腫脹的陰莖勉強塞到他短褲的鬆緊帶下面。

一直照著K的太陽應該對J產生了同一個效果。K發現J的下面也微微有了勃動,J醒了一下,K趕緊閉上眼睛裝睡。J從背包裡拿出一件T恤,蓋住下身,繼續入睡。就這樣子他們回了城市,但K的心還在海邊。

《Less》書評:不如他人

62386248_441367870010315_144654923731042304_n我最近在看一本名為《Less》的同志小說。主角Less是一位年近五十的同志小說家,他在二十幾歳的時候曾經跟一位比他大二十歳的大師級詩人在一起,但他四十幾歳的時候則是跟一位比他小二十歳的青年交往。然而,正當Less要邁入生命的後半段時,那位現在已經三十幾歳的情人找到了跟他年紀相近的伙伴,所以與Less分手。

小說中提到Less那一代人和他這兩位情人分屬的兩代,三代之間在意識形態上的矛盾和對立。詩人的那一代同志甚至不認為自己是同志,也沒有什麼同志歸屬感。詩人本身是雙性戀,沒有公開出櫃,也沒有被文學圈歸類為一名「同志」詩人;比他年輕的那位青年Freddy屬於年輕一代,他們公開承認他們同志的身份,他也善於跟「同志」作家圈社交。

Less的小說在這些年輕世代的圈內作家眼裡,是對同志身份太悲觀的風格。Less本身也有點自卑:他知道他不是天才(不過他跟詩人交往的期間身邊都是天才);跟Freddy交往時,則被視為不夠gay,不如年輕一代以同志身份為傲,也不是對同志圈有責任感的同志作家。他的姓也暗示他不如別人(less than)的身份。

他為了婉拒Freddy的婚禮邀請函,決定去國外旅遊。在出發之前他與經紀人見面,才得知他最近寫完的小說剛被出版社退稿,因為跟以往一樣,主角又是一個自覺委屈的中產階級白人同志。有趣的是,故事中Less的小說其實跟這本小說Less有許多相似之處,比方說,主角都是年紀比較大、充滿疑惑的白人同志,他們懷念過去的身世。不過,在現代社會,一個白種同志一般來說並不是很大的問題,多得是更受壓迫的社群。然而,在他出發之前,他沒辦法看到自己世界之外的一切,只是一再重複一樣的故事。

讓我比較產生共鳴的部分,是他在講那些經歷過第一代愛滋病危機的同志,他們活到晚年的感受。在缺乏模範的情況下,那一代的同志不是很清楚要有尊嚴地活到老。更進一步來說,對同志而言,什麼是「有意義」的存在?身為同志,是要效仿異性戀社會的典範,結婚、生下(或領養)小孩嗎?這些問題也牽涉到我上述的「矛盾和對立」。早期的同志運動其實意圖為顛覆以異性戀為正統的關係典範。最近台灣才剛通過婚姻平權法案,但反對這個法案的萌萌竟然無意識地呼應早期的同志運動,也就是性解放的觀點:同性戀者不應該(或不適合)受「正統」異性戀關係的壓迫影響;萌萌口中的「不反同,反同婚」也是套用這個道理。在婚姻平權法案之前,台灣曾有「多元成家」法案,更符合性解放運動的觀點,不過沒有通過。在某方面來說,現有法案比較傳統,同性戀關係也受限於傳統典範;不過,這同時也是一個比較踏實的觀點,同性戀者不因為性取向並而比異性戀者更有智慧,也是繼續複製異性戀社會中的階級與種族不平等。

總之,還沒看完,不過我還是很推薦這本小說。