After entering self-imposed exile more than a decade ago, grassroots comedy legend Chu Ke-liang (豬哥亮) was located by Apple Daily last week in a small village in southern Taiwan. “I’m still on the lam!” the startled vet told reporters.
A stand-up comedian who rose to superstardom in the 1980s, Chu was known and loved for his vulgar sense of humor and over-the-top appearance that featured a “toilet-lid” (馬桶蓋)hairstyle, which became his trademark.
Big money came his way, way too easily. With a reported monthly income of some NT$60 million, the comic gambled heavily, and wound up ruined.
In 1995, unable to pay off his debts to the mafia, Chu disappeared, along with his third wife and their son. Until, that is, the infinitely resourceful paparazzi caught up with the 62-year-old while he was tucking into a bowl of oden (黑輪) at a humble eatery.
The media have been busy trying to piece together Chu’s missing decade.
Some sources claim the fugitive has several bolt-holes in southern Taiwan. Others speculate he would arrive home late at night and leave before daybreak to avoid detection.
As for exactly how much the former gambler owes, figures vary from US$8.7 million to US$14 million, though his daughter, singer Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕), once said that even if there were 100 of her, they wouldn’t be able pay off the sum.
Several of Chu’s old showbiz chums including Chang Fei (張菲), Kao Ling-feng (高凌風) and Chu Yen-ping (朱延平) urged the funnyman to return to the stage, and asked his creditors to spare the man’s life so he could work to repay his dues.
Entertainer-turned-lawmaker Yu Tian (余天) made a public appeal to Chu to contact him so that they could “work something out …”
Local pundits, meanwhile, are salivating at the prospect of a possible comeback.
If you’re blissfully unaware of who Yao Yao (瑤瑤) is, you’re most likely not a zhainan (宅男), the Taiwanese version of the Japanese otaku, a homebound, nerdy guy whose life is all about anime films, manga or computer games and the real-life girls who endorse these products.
Yao Yao is a baby-faced 18-year-old high-school girl and the alleged owner of a pair of 33E breasts. She was recently featured in a television commercial for an online game, which apparently was plotless and centered on her undulating umlauts while she rode a mechanical horse.
According to the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), Yao Yao has quickly attained sex-goddess status in Taiwan’s otaku community and has been dubbed a “big-breasted bodacious baby face” (童顏巨乳), an epithet used in Japan for porn stars.
In a sign of her rising popularity, the newly minted diva attracted the attention of a stalker, her first, who lurked a whole day at the entrance of the school she attends. Police later arrested the admirer, 19-year-old Lee Lung-hui (李龍輝), for stealing an online game package from a convenience store after he failed to make contact with his idol.
When asked why he wanted to meet Yao Yao, Lee expressed his wish to become her bodyguard. As for the game package he pilfered, Lee said Yao Yao looked so fragile and vulnerable in the picture on the cover that he just had to take it home.
The media reported this week on another government stimulus program to make the birth rate rise. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the budget for the government’s programs would reach NT$85 billion (US$3.05 billion) by 2023, and said that the government’s monthly subsidy for child support would rise from NT$3,500 to NT$5,000. These measures are a well-meaning attempt to address Taiwan’s globally low fertility and birth rates, but they are rather like poking a heart attack victim with a stick in the hope of reviving him. The problems driving the low birth rates are well known: the lack and cost of
May 3 to May 9 The Japanese soldiers thought they had already subjugated the Atayal when they set out toward the mountains of today’s eastern Taoyuan on May 5, 1907. The two brigades, one from the north and one from the south, were tasked with pushing the colonial government’s frontier defense lines deeper into Aboriginal territory to gain access to valuable camphor. “The defense lines were used to protect the economic activities, mainly camphor production, on the [Japanese] side of the line,” writes Wu Cheng-hsien (吳政憲) in the paper, “The Principle and Utilization of the Mortars on the Frontier Defense Lines”
Who would have thought that Taiwan — just over 100km from China and a few hundred kilometers away from Vietnam, which are the world’s first and second biggest consumers of pangolin scales — would become the last beacon of hope for this imperiled species? In fact, pangolins — from sub-species in Africa all the way down to Indonesia — are the world’s most highly trafficked mammal. Thought to cure anything from HIV to hangovers, ground pangolin scales and pangolin soup (the photos online are difficult to stomach) are expensive delicacies in Vietnam and China, and the rarer the species becomes,
Chu Mu-kun (朱木崑) carefully inspects a large boulder hauled from further up the Daniuci OId Trail (打牛崎古道). “This might work,” he says, rotating and repositioning it against the slope until it fits snugly. It takes two hours to manually make three steps using simple tools on the ancient trail, which has been rendered inaccessible due to the collapse of a wooden elevated walkway. “You have to transport goods up here to repair this walkway, which looks jarring against its surroundings to begin with,” Chu says. “Hand-built trails using readily available materials are easier to maintain and are better for the environment.