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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

“Tiger’s Curse” – A Book Review

Coco Hsiao

In my free time, I love to browse new books at the bookstore. Recently, I was attracted by an adventure novel, Tiger’s Curse, by Colleen Houck. This is a romantic fantasy with a background in mysterious Indian mythology. I still can’t forget this book for its interesting cultural flavor.

Kelsey is a girl who was adopted after her parents died in a car accident. In order to earn money for college, she went to a local circus and asked for a part-time job. Her jobs included taking care of the circus’ animal star – an Indian white tiger, “Ren.” After getting the job, Kelsey was surprised to discover that her best tiger friend, Ren, had magical power and a special identity. Ren was an ancient Indian prince who was cursed by his enemy and became a tiger. He needed Kelsey to help him breaking this curse because she was chosen by the Indian god “Durga.” In the story, Kelsey and Ren had to complete the tasks that Durga had given them (looking for 4 gifts and making 5 sacrifices) so that the tiger could return to his human form. During this adventure, Kelsey not only needed to fly halfway around the world to India, but she also had to face some difficult challenges. Most importantly, she had to overcome her own fears and believe in love again.

In Tiger’s Curse, Kelsey became lonely after her parents died. Although Kelsey had a strong will, she was still afraid of losing the people she loves again. Like lots of adoptees, it was hard for her to overcome this obstacle because of her past experience; she subconsciously avoided opening her heart and maybe being hurt again. Through this story, I think the author really communicated how adoptees feel and how they desire to be loved by someone again.
From the book, I learned that, “No matter what difficulties you face, just believe your heart and listen to the voice of your soul; they will tell you the answer.” Kelsey fell in love with Ren; however, she left because she not only feared losing love again, but she also had no confidence. She thought too much and couldn’t hear her heart. I think it is not an easy thing to learn how to calm down and follow your mind. If you can keep your heart at peace, you’ll find the real path.

My favorite part of Tiger’s Curse was that it was set in an amazing Indian cultural background. The story combined the Indian style of thinking, mythology, and religion and made the reader feel the beauty of this special eastern culture. For example, there are a few graceful poems (like “Sakuntala”) in the book to express the emotions of the characters. I also admired the author’s writing skill; she was able to explain every action, feeling, and place in detail. I not only enjoyed the story, but could actually “see” the story in my mind.

I really liked Tiger’s Curse and its foreign setting. I imagined that I was an adventurer taking risks on those amazing trips. The story also reminded me how to make a decision when I face problems. Tiger’s Curse is the first book of the tiger series. If you’re interested in this book, you’ll find it in the school library. I recommend the book for teenagers to read in their free time because the plots will make you relax and enjoy when you read it. It’s such as a special novel that I ‘m sure after you tried, you will become one of “Tiger’s” royal fans.

Mini Brown – A Second Restaurant Review

Editor's Note:  We don't usually publish two reviews of the same restaurant.  However, this week we have two reviews of "Mini Brown," a new brunch restaurant near the FCU campus.  Read both articles for a complete picture of Mini Brown, and maybe you will want to pay them a visit!

Annie Wang & Vicky Wei

Nowadays, many students stay up all night playing online games, watching TV dramas, surfing the Net, and maybe doing a little homework.  Thus, they often wake up late and don’t know whether to eat breakfast or lunch. Now, they have a new choice – breakfast and lunch together! This is called “brunch.” There is a new brunch shop not far from FCU called “Mini Brown”. I recently paid Mini Brown a visit, and I am sure I’ll visit again soon.
All photos by the authors
        Mini Brown is a small shop, and the decoration is simple. When entering Mini Brown, you will see many dolls in front of the sales counter, a blackboard on the wall showing discount goods, and comfortable seats. There is also soft music playing.  It is a very comfortable space, and the boss lets you stay as long as you want.

All meals are traditional American cooking such as subs, hamburgers, and salad. At Mini Brown, they serve a la carte and combination meals. If you are worried about what to choose, a combination meal will be your best choice.

I ordered a combination meal called “Brown Uncle,” which included a cheese bagel, hash browns, salad, a scrambled egg, and a cup of soy milk. I loved the crisp bagel with its strong cheese flavor. My salad included fresh lettuce, corn kernels, cucumber, carrots, and thousand-island dressing. My favorite foods were the scrambled egg and hash browns because the scrambled egg was smooth, and the hash browns were crunchy and delicious. Most important, the meal cost only NT$89; that’s a great price for such a good meal!

The service at Mini Brown wasn’t anything special; there are not many waiters in the shop, so customers often have to wait 20-30 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you can call Mini Brown’s special phone line to place your take-out order. Most items on the menu are sold out before 1:00 p.m., so I suggest you order your meal before noon.

       Mini Brown is a simple shop, but they serve a great brunch. Next time you wake up late and don’t know whether to eat breakfast or lunch, Mini Brown is a good choice.

Mini Brown
284-11 Xitun Road, Section 2, Taichung
Hours: 0600 – 1330
Phone: (04)2452-2365


“Twilight" – A Movie Review

Luye Tu & Vivian Chang

If you love stories about beautiful girls and handsome guys, you must see Twilight, a romantic movie based on a romantic book. .

At the beginning of the movie, Bella moves to Foxes Town to live with her father. On her first day in her new town, she meets many new friends, including Edward. Bella was attracted by Edward at first sight. He was just like Prince Charming in Bella’s eyes, and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. That’s how she could easily see that there was something strange about Edward. Later, one day Bella was almost hit by a truck, but Edward saved her. Bella was surprised because at that time Edward was meters away from her and Edward held back the truck with super-human strength. Later, Bella found out that Edward was so powerful because he was a vampire; still, she couldn’t help but fall in love with him.

Kristen Stewart played the role of Bella Swan. Rob Pattinson played the role of Edward Cullen. Edward was a vampire who lived behind a human mask. Both Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson became very popular because of this movie. Moreover, the Twilight soundtrack also included songs by many popular singers and bands, including Linkin Park, Paramore, and Muse. The most unforgettable song, “Bella’s Lullaby,” was written by famous composer Carter Burwell. After you see Twilight, “Bella’s Lullaby” will bring back romantic memories whenever you hear it. In this movie, Edward’s family also played a very important role. Despite the fact that they needed to control their hunger for human blood, they still decided to receive Bella as a family member. They supported every decision made by their family. In real life, it is really hard to accept a person with a totally different background. This is a really important lesson we can learn from this movie.  

It’s a long journey to find your true love, but true love is definitely worth waiting for. However, we are humans, not vampires; we can’t wait for a thousand years. This is the reality we need to overcome. Perhaps true love happens only in the movies or in fairy tales. Romantic movies like Twilight are really suitable for couples to see on a date or one that a single person can enjoy and try to imagine being loved by somebody.


Feng Chia Design Box

Kane Chang

Feng Chia University (FCU) always gives students new things. Last year, FCU improved their cell phone FCU Apps, built some high-tech meeting rooms, and even organized an organic fruit market for students and faculty. This year, the University gives students the “enjoyment of vision”—Feng Chia Design Box.

Feng Chia Design Box is a project of the Master’s Program in Creative Design. This program was founded in 2011, which means that it is a very young department compare to other departments. However, their accomplishments in national and international competitions have been so good that it’s hard to believe it is such a new program. In 2013, they won over ten gold medals in all kind of competitions, including the Seoul International Invention Fair, the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Invention/New Product Exposition (INPEX) in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. The Master’s Program in Creative Design has been so outstanding because it is extremely selective. The Program accepts only ten students each year, and the students need have interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. In 2014, the program director, Dr. Chiu, decided on a mission impossible—make a small, godforsaken space here on campus into a gallery where Program students could show their products.

Thanks to the National Art Museum and the National History Museum Cultural Material Product Program, Director Chiu got the idea of Feng Chia Design Box. All of the products in the Feng Chia Design Box display Taiwan traditional culture. For example, there are many cuddly toys that look like Taiwanese gods. Because Taiwan is a polytheistic country, we can see various gods and legendary characters in the Design Box display. Besides, there are also a lot of Hakka style clothing and classical teapots, both icons of traditional Taiwan culture. We can see “what is Taiwan” in a space that is only five square meters in size.
So, where is this five-square-meter room? Well, the answer is that the FCU Design Box is in that little empty room between MOS Burger and 7-11. This space was originally designed as a guardroom, but because 7-11 is open 24 hours a day and is very brightly lighted, the guardroom was not necessary there. Then this empty room became a godforsaken place until the Master’s Program in Creative Design took over. According to the program assistant, the products in the Design Box were all made by students and will become available for purchase in the future. Although just a few people stop to appreciate these creative products, these works of art are still very good products to represent Taiwanese traditional culture.

I am very lucky that I am an FCU student. The equipment is great and the location even better. We can buy and eat whatever we want extremely easily. Nowadays, FCU is also helping students developed a taste for art. Therefore, next time you pass Feng Chia Design Box on your way to “Boxed Lunch Street,” please take a minute to savor the dishes which the Master’s Program in Creative Design has prepared for us.

“Frozen” – A Movie Review

Sophie Chiu & Mavis Wu

Frozen is an animated movie from Disney Studios. The story is about the queen of a small kingdom who has the ability to freeze things solid. Because Disney thought that story was too evil to make into a children’s film, they spent lots of time to rewrite it. Finally, it premiered in winter of 2013 and became the highest grossing Disney animated film.

The movie tells the story of two princesses, two sisters with very distinct personalities, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (voiced by Cristen Bell). Sister Elsa is frosty, elegant and desirable, and Anna is vivacious, impulsive, and adventurous. Although they were very different, they got along very well when they were children. Elsa has the magical power to freeze anything, but she cannot control the power. After she accidentally froze something she shouldn’t have, the king closed all the doors in the palace to keep her from making another terrible mistake. Elsa was afraid that she might hurt someone, so she stayed away from everyone. One day, the sisters had a quarrel, and Elsa angrily ran away from home. In her anger, she accidentally froze the entire kingdom and escaped to the north mountain. There, she did not have to hide herself. She could use her power to do whatever she wanted. It was the first time she felt so free.  We can tell how free she feels from the songs she sings, including “Don't let them in; don't let them see" and "Let it go."

To dispel the magic and unfreeze the kingdom, Elsa’s sister, Anna, went to find her. On their journey to find Elsa and save the kingdom, Anna met two mountain men, Kristoff and Olaf. They challenged the bad weather and lots of danger together and in the process discovered the meaning of "true love."

After watching Frozen, we learned lots of things. First, the king taught Elsa hide her magical ability .We think the king was not right. Because Elsa is not a freak, she should just have learned how to control herself so she would hurt others. This film also talks about true love. Lots of people think that “true love” is when a man and a woman fall in love. However, this film was different; Frozen showed us that real love is when someone comes to help you when you just think about him or her when you are in trouble.  

Frozen is the first Disney movie where the princess doesn't fall in love with a man and finally have a happy ending, but we think this is more realistic. In the real world, a woman never marries a man as soon as they meet; they first spend some time getting to know each other's personality. When they finally think that they can live together forever, they hold a marriage ceremony to celebrate their love.

Frozen is really different from other cartoons, so we recommend that you go to the theater and enjoy it!

Fixed gear bikes? Give me a brake!

Jason Yang

A bike with no brakes sounds crazy, but there is actually a group of people riding this kind of bike every day. These bikes are fixed gear bikes, or “fixies” for short. In the last few years, fixed gear bikes have gained popularity in Taiwan. Even now at FCU, there are some students who ride “fixies” together in their leisure time. So, what is so special about fixed gear bikes? What is the story behind these bikes? For the answer to these questions, we need to look at the bicycle industry in Taiwan first. 

All photos by the author

The bicycle industry in Taiwan used to manufacture bikes for foreign companies. Then, as Taiwanese labor costs went up, foreign companies had to move into other countries such as Vietnam, where labor costs were lower. However, as Taiwanese local factories improved their manufacture skills, they began to set up their own brands like GIANT and MERIDA and to provide most of the leading bicycle products to the world. Later, people who loved fixed gear bikes took advantage of skilled local factories to create parts and components from their own designs, which helped to cut down the costs. Furthermore, some of the local designers started their own businesses selling products made by local factories.

Others might not understand how some people could be interested in such a dangerous bicycle – a bicycle with no brakes. After I talked to some guys who ride “fixies”, it was fairly easy to understand. According to what these students said, fixed gear bikes attracted them almost at first sight. The simple lines and curves on a fixed gear bike are like some sort of deadly weapon, which bring up one’s passion towards some beautiful things on earth. Some others even defined fixed gear bikes as a practice in Minimalism, which emphasize geometry and strong contrasts. However, according to these riders, the most important reason that they fell in love with fixed gear bikes is the riding experience. 

       When you first get on the bike, you immediately discover that something is different, that you have a big problem; that is, how do you stop this beautiful monster once you get it going? Well, the short answer is that you stop a “fixie” the same way we see Olympic riders stop their track bikes. Because the wheels are fixed to the gears, and the gears are fixed to the pedals, no matter if the bike is going forwards or backwards, the pedals go in the same direction. That means you have to use the power of your legs; instead of pressing down on the pedals, you have to pull up to slow the bike down!

Fixed gear bikes used to be popular among bicycle messengers in the U.S. because they are easy to repair. However, riders in Taiwan treated fixed gear bikes like a fashion accessory. Similar to other subcultures, fixed gear bike culture in Taiwan is often believed to be connected with a certain lifestyle. People consider the bike a way to show their lifestyle, slow and easy-going. Compared to other subcultures such as HIP-HOP, Graffiti, or Rap, the “fixie” culture is probably better for you, both mentally and physically.

    We can say that the fixed gear bike in Taiwan is a product that combines sports and fashion. Bicycles have long been an important means of transportation, and as technology has advanced, bicycles have evolved. Who knows that maybe there will be bike without wheels in the future! 

"Lettuce" – A Restaurant Review

Momo Lin  & Anny Zheng

Eating habits are different now; many people eat out very often. There are many kinds of foods we can choose from, and American restaurants are more and more popular among young people. We would like to introduce “Lettuce” to you, a new restaurant where you can have a relaxing meal and chat with friends. 
All photos by the authors

“Lettuce” is an American restaurant near Feng Chia University (FCU.) The word lettuce means a fresh vegetable, so the name “Lettuce” means all the meals at this restaurant are fresh.

Even from the outside, “Lettuce” looks special, so we wanted to try it.  The decoration is different from other restaurants; everything was designed by the owner, including the menus, the photos and drawings on the walls, and the fans hanging from the ceilings. There are also some notebooks and stickers designed by the owner on sale at the restaurant. All of the floors at “Lettuce” are made of driftwood the boss has collected. On the wall, there are many photos recording the owner’s travels around the world. There are also photos of customers enjoying their meals at “Lettuce.” The pictures on the shelves were also drawn by the owner.

  “Lettuce” sells many kinds of sandwiches such as American burgers and subs. If you don’t want to eat too much, you can choose a deep fried side dish or a salad. There are also set meals you can order. If you order a burger, you only have to add NT$50-60 to get a soft drink and a deep-fried side dish.

  The hamburgers at “Lettuce” are full of lettuce, onions, cheese and pickled cucumbers. Their hamburger buns are crisp outside and soft inside. The lettuce is fresh and sweet. The onions aren’t very spicy; they just add a crispy taste. We suggest that you have a set meal; you can choose a soft drink such as Coca-cola, Sprite, and lemon tea. You can also have some deep fried foods such as chicken rice flower, chicken, onion rings and French fries.

  There is only one server in the whole restaurant, the owner. He is so kind and interesting that we enjoyed our meals at “Lettuce” very much. If you visit Feng Chia night market, you must drop by “Lettuce” and try one of their sandwiches; you will be surprised by their special decorations and affordable prices. “Lettuce” is a good place to have a meal and chat with your friends. The relaxed dining atmosphere and open space will attract you to come back again and again. Remember to make a reservation, because the seating at “Lettuce” is really limited. You are sure to have a good dining experience at “Lettuce.”

Not Every Student Worker Is in a Daze

Frople Lai

        Many students work part time to pay their tuition and school expenses or to earn extra money. However, I think that working part time is not only to earn money, but also to learn how to manage your time, gain experience, and learn something new. I looked for a part-time job because I wanted to do just these three things, so I was optimistic in my job search. Luckily, my friend recommended me to the director of the Center for Urban and Rural Development, and he was willing to give me a chance.

All photos by the author

        At the Center for Urban and Rural Development, we bid on government projects and work on projects with outside companies. I have an interesting job. One of my tasks is to investigate the land use in a defined area. Sometimes, the area is so large that I have to walk all day in the sun. At the end of the day, I am sunburned, tired, and thirsty. My second task is to sort the data which I have collected and to arrange documents for my colleagues. Then I draw pictures of how the land is used and of the buildings on the land. When I am working on these tasks, I sometimes run into problems that I have no idea how to solve, but my boss and my colleagues are always enthusiastic about helping me and teaching me how to figure out some solutions. These tasks are not so complex, but they require lots of patience and take lots of time. My job is challenging, but I feel happy when I have finished a task.

        I have had two unforgettable experiences since coming to work at the Center for Urban and Rural Development. First, when I went to an industrial area where many companies have watchdogs, two dogs jumped on me and attacked me. When they attacked me, I was so nervous I couldn’t move; my feet were frozen on the spot and I couldn’t call for help. Fortunately, a man came by and drove the dogs away. My second unforgettable experience was when we won a project that we had bid on. This gave me a great sense of accomplishment and encouraged me to work harder.

        I didn’t take this part-time job just for the money; I expected something else, too.  Being an intern has taught me to bravely ask for advice and not pretend that I know everything. I do my best every day to finish my tasks. I have also learned to be a leader; I try to find my coworkers’ strengths and to allocate the work to my partners fairly. Cooperation is important for getting tasks done quickly, and communicating well is essential to cooperation. Learning how to control my emotions is another important skill that I have developed while working part time. Now, I can keep calm and think of the best way to complete my task and not quarrel so much with others.

     Working part time has given me the opportunity to learn many things that I couldn’t learn in a classroom. I encourage you to look for a part-time job; you will learn things far beyond your imagination. However, if you want to get a part-time job at school, you should remember that many other students will be competing for that job, so you will need to apply in advance.

Movie Review: “The Life Of Pi”

Jane Kao & Lily Lai

   There were many famous movies released last year, and Life of Pi was one of them. This movie was directed by Ang Lee, who was awarded the Oscar for best director. This was one reason why we liked this movie. The other reason was that this movie not only describes a boy’s life on the boat, but also pictures the struggle between humanity and beastliness.

    Pi’s father operated a zoo. However, because the government took away the family’s land, they had to move to Canada. Unfortunately, they encountered a storm when they were on the ship. Only Pi and four animals, a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a tiger survived. Pi and the animals escaped in a lifeboat. After a while, the hyena killed the zebra and the orangutan, but the hyena was then killed by the tiger. Therefore, Pi and the tiger were left alone on the small boat. One day, Pi and the tiger drifted to an island. Pi found food and water on the island, and this helped them survive. However, he also found that the island was full of danger, so he decided to leave with the tiger. Finally, the lifeboat landed, and Pi was rescued; however, the tiger ran away.

    The special thing about this movie is the special effects. The tiger and the other animals and those wonderful scenes in the sea were all created by computer. However, they looked so real that you couldn’t tell that they were just special effects. Another special thing about the movie was that some of the scenery in the movie was filmed in Taiwan! For example, the zoo scenes were filmed in the Fushan Botanical Garden in central Taiwan.

    This movie has many metaphors, such as Pi and four animals: the tiger is Pi, the hyena is the ship’s cook, the zebra is a sailor, and the orangutan is Pi’s mother. Some people believe that in real life the cook killed the sailor and Pi’s mother and then Pi killed the cook. This story seems reasonable; however, there are still some parts of this story that seem unreasonable. First, Pi’s mother held onto some bananas and made it to the lifeboat; however, bananas don’t float! Another error was that a cook is a person who prepares food, but after he killed Pi’s mother, he threw her body into the sea rather than use mother as meat. Another error was that meerkats live in the dessert not on islands like in the movie. Because we found these errors, we think that there is a third story. This third story could explain where the mother went and what really happened to Pi. Although the director intentionally conceals this third story, he hopes we will think about it because everything is in the movie.

    The struggle between humanity and beastliness is the most important point in this film. Humanity follows morality, but beastliness desires only to survive. This is a movie worth pondering. What would you do if you were Pi? Which story would you believe?


A Trip to Lu-Kang Township

Claire Chao & Jim Wu

Lu-Kang Township is full of Taiwan spirit and culture, so it has become a popular destination for both families and friends. Attracted by its fame, we decided to explore Lu-Kang one sunny weekend. The enthusiasm of the local people and the interesting things along the busy streets left a deep impression. Lu-Kang is truly a historic town with fascinating scenery, unique culture and tasty snacks.

The origin of the name 'Lu-Kang' is interesting. There was an old saying during the Qing Dynasty: "I have heard that Number One is Tainan (palace), Number Two is Lu-Kang (“deer), and Number Three is Man-Ka (“small boat)." During the Qing Dynasty, the town was well-known its many resources such as rice and deer. Therefore, it was called Lu-Kang, which means "deer harbor."  During the Qing Dynasty, the depth of Lu-Kang's harbor and its proximity to Fujian Province on mainland China made Lu-Kang an important trading port. Benefitting from the booming trade, Lu-Kang was one of the most prosperous and most largely populated cities in Taiwan.

There are many historic sites remaining from Qing, such as Lu-Kang Old Street and the Matzu Temple in the town’s center. While visiting these historic relics, we couldn't help but appreciate Lu-Kang’s pristine and intoxicating atmosphere.

Lu-Kang Old Street
We tread in historical footprints along the alleys of Lu-Kang Old Street and felt its traditional culture. The ancient red brick buildings along the street are the symbol of Lu-Kang. This was a residential and commercial area during Qing, but now these houses have become different stores attracting visitors from all over. There are souvenir shops, old teahouses, grocery stores, folk cloth shops and traditional food stalls. The store that impressed me most was a small shop selling traditional Japanese style clogs. In this old shop, there were several pairs of clogs hanging in orderly rows on the wall. Every pair was unique in fabric pattern design, combining modern elements with traditional patterns. What's more, visitors can choose their favorite color and cloth, and the craftsmen will customize a pair of clogs for them while they wait. I picked an embroidered pair. There are many custom shops like this along the street selling traditional goods such as shuttlecocks, traditional fans, and embroidered clothes.

All photos by the authors

Matzu Temple
The most famous temple remaining in Lu-Kang is the Matzu Temple, which is nearly 400 years old. As the temple is an important part of the local people's lives, it is dedicated to a wide variety of folk deities. On the one hand, the temple is a place where both local people and foreigners come to worship Matzu, praying for health, wealth, or marriage. On the other hand, Matzu Temple has become a place where people celebrate traditional festivals. We visited the temple right after the Lantern Festival. There were lots of people participating in the lantern show and other interesting activities like guessing lantern riddles and beating the drum with coins. We also joined the activities and enjoyed ourselves very much.

Local Snacks
Last but not least, Lu-Kang is also famous for its variety of snacks. If you want to explore the delicious snacks in Lu-Kang, you need to follow the alleys. As a dessert addict, my favorite snack was the traditional Chinese pastry filled with pudding. When I took a bite of the pastry, it virtually melted in my mouth, but it did not feeling greasy. This pastry was available in a variety of flavors, including sesame, peanut, taro, red bean, and banana. The other popular snacks are a kind of seasoned millet congee and a local noodle soup, both of which are favorites among the older generation. Fried seafood also sells well in Lu-Kang because it's fresh and cheap. During the day that we spent wandering around Lu-Kang, we found quite a few truly tasty snacks.

Nowadays, Lu-Kang attracts a constant flow of visitors on weekends. Our trip to Lu-Kang left me with wonderful memories. This small town is a lively, relaxing destination for an outing with family or friends. You can spend the entire day wandering around the old street, visiting the traditional temple and enjoying the wonderful food. If you are visiting central Taiwan, Lu Kang is one place you won’t want to miss!