Farewell My Concubine – a movie review

July 2, 2013

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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The Rape of Nanking – Part 1/2

January 21, 2013

Although China has suffered from internal war and strife, the Han Chinese have seldom invaded another nation outside of what we know as China today in its four-thousand year history. In addition, until the 1980s, China was almost always self-sufficient. After the first emperor unified China, to wage war on neighboring countries to conquer and rule over them was not part of the Chinese character.

Nanking was the capital of China from the third to the 6th century. In the 14th century, the first Ming Emperor made Nanking the capital again. To protect the capital, the largest city wall in the world was built. It was fifty-feet high, forty-feet wide and more than twenty-five miles long.


Part 2 of this video continues the Rape of Nanking and it is so shocking and disturbing, you must go to YouTube and sign in showing that you are at least 18. If you do not wish to watch Part 2, the next post will continue to report about the Rape of Nanking, and it will not be as disturbing.
Part 2, The Rape of Nanking

On July 1937, Japan attacked China, and Chiang Kai-shek was the commander of China’s army and navy.  The battle for Shanghai came first. Tens of thousands of innocent Chinese were killed while 300 thousand Chinese troops died. After losing Shanghai, the Chinese army retreated to Nanking.

The Japanese soldiers were ordered to burn all, steal all, and kill all as they advanced through the countryside toward Nanking. It is estimated that 300 thousand innocent Chinese were murdered in that military campaign.

For over one-hundred days, Japanese bombers bombed Nanking, while Chinese troops fought fiercely defending the city. Eventually, Chang Kai-shek fled with most of his generals and government officials, but ordered one general to stay behind with the army and fight.

After Nanking fell to the Japanese, several hundred thousand Chinese civilians were raped and murdered, and during World War II between 3 million to more than 10 million civilians, mostly Chinese, were killed by the Japanese occupation forces.

Continued on January 22, 2013, in The Rape of Nanking – Part 2, and/or discover The Roots of Madness

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Honoring Foreign Devil Heroes

November 20, 2012

It is ironic that in the 1940s we were fighting with the Chinese against the Japanese. Then in 1950, China and the US fought against each other in North Korea and Chinese advisers were sent to assist North Vietnam to fight the US in the 1960s.

Then Nixon arrives in China in the 1970s and we were friends again.

In February 2010, I had an instant message chat with Ian Carter, an Australian expatriate living in Southeast China, and learned that during World War II in 1944 an American B-24 Liberator bomber vanished without a trace in Southeast China.

Fifty-two years later in 1996, farmers discovered the bomber’s wreckage and the remains of the ten-man crew on Mao’er Shan (Little Cat Mountain), Southern China’s highest peak. The name of the B-24 bomber was Tough Titi.

These Americans are considered heroes (click on this link for more about this story) to the Chinese, and the remains of the crew were returned to the United States for burial.

There’s a memorial stone near the crash site and Chinese tourists pay honor to these Americans by leaving flowers and other gifts.

To honor these heroes further, the Chinese recovered some of the bomber’s parts and used them as a centerpiece for a museum in Xing’an, about four hours from the crash site.

Discover Country Driving (in China) by Peter Hessler

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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America’s Lost Work Ethic and the End of its global Exceptionalism – Part 2/5

December 10, 2011

My parents generation is the one John Steinbeck wrote of in Cannery Row. One review says, “The novel depicts the characters as survivors, and being a survivor is essentially what life is all about.” The same theme permeates Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice
and Men
.

However, today, many Americans have forgotten the sacrifice it takes to survive and expects government to bail them out.

My father, at 14, was mucking out horse stalls at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California—the sort of work immigrants do today.


It started in America and swept around the globe!

My mother worked in a laundry and at home, she baked and decorated cakes for special occasions that she sold to neighbors, co-workers, friends and family.

My older brother worked most of his life until the day he died at 64 in 1999 working the jobs that immigrants do.  When he didn’t have work, he spent his days going to dumpsters looking for cardboard and searching the roadsides for empty soda cans and beer bottles to sell at the local recycling place.

Richard, my brother, “once” told me shortly before his death that he was proud he never collected a welfare check or depended on government handouts. The Latinos he worked with called him The Horse, “El Caballo”, due to his strength.

When I was fifteen, I went to school during the day and worked nights and weekends [30 hours a week] washing dishes in a coffee shop often until 11:00 PM only to be at high school the next day by 8 AM.

After a few years in the US Marines and a tour in Vietnam, I washed cars, swept floors and then bagged groceries in a super market while I attended college on the GI Bill.

One summer job before my fourth year of college had me cleaning empty 50,000 gallon stainless-steel tanks at the Gallo Winery in Modesto, California. It was a dangerous job cleaning out the tanks where the wine was fermented, and I witnessed fellow workers injured and rushed to the hospital.

However, the generation that won World War II and made America strong and powerful is mostly gone or retired. Today, the work ethic in America has changed.  The reason it changed has a lot to do with the way children have been raised since the 1960s by parents obsessed with their children’s self-esteem and happiness, while making sure these children never face a boring day and blaming teachers for the child’s bad grades instead of holding the child responsible.


Unfilled jobs due to skills gap

Since 1960, the US has not won a single war.  After more than a decade and about 50,000 dead, we lost in Vietnam. Today, after another decade at war, we are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with no victory in sight.

It’s as if today’s younger generation is incapable of making the sacrifices the Great Depression (1929 – 1942) generation did when 25% of all workers were completely out of work. Some people starved and many lost farms and homes.

However, I’ve met Chinese immigrants willing to do the same work for the same low pay that Latino immigrants from south of the border do and often charge less while saving money to put their children through college.  It’s called sacrifice.

Continued on December 11, 2011 in America’s Lost Work Ethic and the End of its global Exceptionalism – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA – Part 2/2

November 25, 2011

What I discovered about Chinese steel may surprise you and free China of another popular Sinophobic American myth. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Evidently, this American Constitutional right does not apply to China or the Chinese.

From InfoPlease.com, I learned the U.S. produced about half of the world’s steel in 1945.

“After World War II,” InfoPlease.com said, “the U.S. steel industry faced increased competition from Japanese and European producers, who rebuilt and modernized their industries. Later, many Third World countries, such as Brazil, built their own steel industries, and large U.S. steelmakers faced increased competition from smaller, nonunion mills (“mini-mills”) that recycle scrap steel. …”

A recent CRS Report for the US Congress said, “China’s steel industry has grown significantly since the mid-1990s. China is now the world’s largest steelmaker and steel consumer. In 2009, China produced over 567 million tons of crude steel, nearly half of the world’s steel. That was 10 times the U.S. production.”

However, CRS reported, “The majority of Chinese steel has been used to meet domestic demand in China.”

Today, the United States is in third place while Japan is the second largest producer of steel. Source: Index Mundi.com

In fact, the United States steel industry exports steel to China. For example, in 2004, the US exported 8 million tons of steel to China up from 5 million tons in 2000 and by 2010, China was buying $34.5 billion in steel from countries such as the US, Australia, and Brazil to meet its domestic needs.

John Surma, president and CEO of US Steel Corp, said, “China generally has been good for our industry.”

Meanwhile, we learn from Qingfeng Zhang writing for Perspectives that the United States produces approximately 80% of its domestic steel demand…

In addition, the US imports finished steel products from a large number of countries. The EU has been the biggest exporter with about five-million tons shipped to the United States in 2001. Canada is the second largest exporter shipping four-million tons, followed by South Korea (2 million tons), Japan (1.8 million tons) and Mexico (1.5 million tons).

China does import steel to the US.  The US Department of Commerce reported, “U.S. imports from China represent a total of 4.9% (four “point” nine percent) of all U.S. steel imports.” In 2010, steel imports to the U.S. totaled 23.9 million tons while America produced nearly 88.5 million tons of steel between January and December 2010.

You do the math and decide, “Does the US depend on China for steel to meet domestic demand?”

Return to STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The First of All Virtues – Piety

November 10, 2011

Confucius said, “Filial Piety is the root of all virtue and the stem out of which grows all moral teaching.” Source: Susan Tan’s short documentary for a junior class project (Susan Tan is an American-born Chinese)

In addition, at Answers Yahoo.com, Genxi asked, “Why do Americans lack filial piety? At the international level, filial piety is very common… After all, parents definitely would care and protect their children unquestionably—ideal condition—, but why can’t adult Americans have filial piety toward their ageing parents in exchange?” (the few responses to this question are interesting)

However, anyone that believes Confucianism may define China might be surprised to discover that Legalism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity, etc have also influenced the foundation and moral structure of China’s culture.  While China has always had a diversity of religious beliefs, filial piety has been common to almost all of them and it worked.

The result, for more than two-thousand years, China was the wealthiest and most powerful, technologically advanced nation on the planet until the 19th century.

As for the United States, back in January 2010, I read a post at Parent Base.com that said any damn fool can be a parent, and although I agree, I thought North America is not a comfortable place to be if you become a geezer.

Our daughter called me a geezer once, which means a man who is (usually) old and/or eccentric, when she was joking around during her early high school years. She was not raised to be a narcissistic self-esteem child but knowing many American children that were raised to have high self-esteem did rub off resulting in that rude comment.

Today, she attends Stanford and the degree of respect she demonstrates for older family members is reassuring. I hope the self-esteem residue wore off.

When I was a child, youngsters were to be seen and not heard, which means we treated our elders with respect, and surprise of surprises, I was born in America and I am a Caucasian of British/Irish ancestry.  I’m not Asian or Chinese so I suspect piety was once widespread in American/Western culture but during the 20th century suffered a steep decline.

One exception would be the Amish community in the United States. The Amish are a stark contrast to the American concept of individualism—not only do the Amish encourage reciprocal family assistance but the entire Amish community is responsible for helping each other, including the elderly. According to Reuters, the US Amish population grew 86% to 231,000 in 2008 from 125,000 in 1992 and is set to double by 2026.

However, the Amish are not the norm. After the spread of television, the birth of Disneyland, fast food, MTV, the Internet and the iPod generation, a cancer called self-esteem spread through much of American culture. That self-esteem youth worshiping virus killed off much of the ‘respect’ for one’s elders among many of America’s youth.

In China, what America seems to have lost survives and is the norm. In addition, in Asian countries such as the Philippians, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, etc., piety is still strong and is learned in the family—not from a pulpit.

Collins English Dictionary (Harper Collins Publishing) says piety is a devotion and obedience to parents and superiors and says it (piety) is “now rare” (in the West).

In fact, a comment left by an “Aussie in China” on another post verifies that piety is still taught in most Chinese families since piety plays a significant role in the morality of China.

Aussie in China said, “from my experience here, I would argue strongly that there is a commendable level of morality among many of the young Chinese. The issues of morality are well drummed into them at school and at home.”

The decline of the “first of all virtues” in the West first appeared during the 1960s with the spread of the self-esteem movement among American parents.  The history of this movement goes back to the late 19th century and by the 1960s, it permeated American culture in addition to many of its private and public schools.

The America of today is not the America prior to World War II, and the United States owes its greatness to that previous generation, which was not raised to have high self-esteem and spurn piety and family values.

One example of this moral decline in the US happened to me one night during the summer of 2008 when a pack of young boys taunted me as they raced in and out of our steep driveway on bicycles.

“Hey, old man,” one boy shouted, “you can’t stop us.”

I called the police and filed a report, and the next day walked the neighborhood door to door seeking support to stop the harassment that had gone on for two years—mostly during the summers when school was out and these children had nothing better to do but run wild without proper parental/adult supervision.

These boys wanted to race their bikes down our steep driveway for a cheap thrill, and I dared to tell them not to do it so they defied me as often as possible.

The reason why I didn’t want them playing in our driveway is because the United States has become a litigation nation and if one of those boys hurt himself on our property, the parents might take us to court and possibly destroy us financially—even take our home from us.

When I talked to the mother of one of these boys, she asked, “What was your reason for not letting them play on your driveway?”

Did I need a reason?

Since the episode with that gang of boys (I’m sure they all had a high sense of self-esteem), that mother who thought I needed a reason to keep them off our driveway, doesn’t talk to me or acknowledge that I am alive if we pass each other on the street.

After all, I ratted out her precious, perfect, wild child and called the police on his pack of young friends. In addition, one of the other boys argued with me the first time I politely asked them to go elsewhere for their thrills.

Of course, as a teacher for thirty years, I’ve heard American parents say, “kids will be kids” to explain this sort of behavior.

However, I do not accept that excuse for defiance, lack of respect, rudeness and unruly behavior. In fact, the way children act is often linked to how parents raise them and children raised by self-esteem obsessed parents are often the worst ones, while children raised to value piety, which means respect and obedience to parents and superiors/adults, are often the best.

In reading a post at Always on the Verge, I discovered a misguided individual that inadvertently advocates a world overrun by noisy children that do what they want whenever they want wherever they want.

The author of the post says, “I have always had issues with this saying (children should be seen and not heard).  However, that Blogger called “Webbhouston” does not consider that being quiet around adults is also a sign of respect for those older people that go to work daily to feed the family and pay for a roof over their heads to avoid becoming homeless and hungry.

That, by itself, should be enough for children to learn to keep quiet around adults. Children are not an alien species. They are humans, but when they are born, they are wild animals that parents and adults, such as teachers, tame and train to fit into society.

A cartoon (used for educational purposes only) that dramatically illustrates the decline of piety and family values in America.

I searched for a Blog that talks about teachers being abused by students and found thousands that did nothing but bash teachers. Then I found Who’s to Blame (a dim light in the wilderness of blame the teacher).

It seems that only a few people in the West care what happens to teachers (Finland may be the only country in the West where teachers are given the respect they deserve and Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world. In Fact, the World’s Happiness Index from Forbes.com places Finland second of 155 countries as the happiest place to live).

Then months after I first wrote this post, which appeared January 2010 as a nine part series, I launched Crazy Normal – the Classroom Expose, another Blog to help fill that lack of support for teachers in the US.

Then there was a second incident I experienced that further demonstrates the loss of piety and family values in American culture.

During the summer of 2007, we had just pulled into a motel parking lot in Southern California after driving several hundred miles. A teen with his girlfriend wanted to rent a room for an hour at the same motel. As we waited to check in, we heard the motel manager say, “No way!”

The boy turned to me, and asked, “Hey, old man, can you give us a ride to the next motel? They will not rent us a room here.”

I’m sure this adolescent was out for quick sex. He probably didn’t even know the girl’s name or care. Nevertheless, the lack of respect was obvious.

Today, it is as if adults are expected to be invisible and silent while youngsters get whatever they want such as a TV, Internet connection and video games in the child’s bedroom.

In most of North America, we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists with no respect for piety or understanding of what family values means and many are now giving birth to the next generation.

More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.

To learn more about Confucius and piety, check out this site at the Journal for International Relations. I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect but it has served China well for thousands of years and still plays a vital role in that complex culture.

Confucius said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world.

“He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers.

“Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others.” Confucius taught. “Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others…”

While visiting China, I have never heard, “Hey, old man.”

However, there are always exceptions when it comes to piety. Even in China, there will be the occasional rude individual. The thing is, I haven’t seen or heard one yet, and I have visited China many times since 1999.

I did have a disrespectful, American born Asian student (once) during the thirty years I was a teacher.

I also had a small number of hard-working, respectful students from all ethnic groups—even those that were American born, but those types seem to be a dying breed.

My best students were usually immigrants that came to the United States after living in their birth country for several years where the word “self-esteem” was never heard and parents taught the value of piety instead.

In addition, I had one American born student enter high school as a freshman after being home taught by his Caucasian, conservative Christian parents. He was a great person—polite and he worked hard to further his education.

It was obvious that piety and/or family values had been instilled in this one individual by his parents, a daunting task in a country obsessed with stuffing a high sense of self-esteem in its youth.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This edited and revised post first appeared as a nine-part series January 30, 2010 in The First of All Virtues – Part 1 of 9


Births and Deaths – Part 2/2

August 13, 2011

The answer to China’s future may be found in Henry Kissinger’s “On China“, when this elder statesman and advisor of many American presidents on foreign policy, wrote, “China does not claim that its contemporary institutions are relevant outside China.”

In fact, history shows the Chinese are willing to do business and trade goods with other countries, but has never demonstrated a desire to rule the world. Most of China’s wars (not rebellions) were fought to secure its borders and/or defend against invaders.

More evidence that points toward China’s future might be when China ruled the oceans during the Ming Dynasty at a time when China was the most technologically advanced nation on the planet and the emperor called its giant fleet home and decided not to colonize, conquer and/or exploit the rest of the earth through conquest as all of the other empires have done that are mentioned in this post, which could have included the Spanish Empire of the 16th to 19th centuries and  World War II’s Imperial Japan and Hitler’s Nazi Germany. (Discover China’s Ancient Armada)

Another sign of the decline of America and an opportunity for China to become the next global empire is the end of the U.S. Shuttle (space) program. Fox news says, China Aiming High in Space as U.S. Shuttle Program Winds Down.

This year, China plans to send a train car-sized module into orbit, which will be the first building block for a Chinese space station with a goal to put men on the moon sometimes after 2010 — the same year the International Space Station is scheduled to close.

The Fox piece says, “China is still far behind the U.S. in space technology and experience, but what it doesn’t lack is a plan or financial resources … One of the biggest advantages of their system is that they have five-year plans so they can develop well ahead,” said Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane’s Space Systems and Industry. “They are taking a step-by-step approach, taking their time and gradually improving their capabilities. They are putting all the pieces together for a very capable, advanced space industry.”

The Chinese have a history of long term planning.  If you doubt that claim, look at China’s Great Wall and the Grand Canal — both took centuries to build and there is no other project built by man that compares.

Return to or start with Births and Deaths – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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