Sunday, October 18, 2009


Really, I am.  You can ask any of my friends, specifically the three or four who are willing to commune with me and my dust-jackrabbits.  I thought of this at the same time I remembered this sketch by David Foley of the Kids in the Hall, his "bad doctor" routine. (Amazing, this internet, I can recall a comedy piece from 20 years ago and find it in just about that many seconds on YouTube.)

I've already discussed here my failed efforts at clutter removal.  I do have a pretty clear mind, but my living quarters ... well, think Chinese peasant who stole all the artifacts from the landlord. Used bookstore-curio shop decor. I've always believed George Booth is channeling us in his cartoons of the old couple and all their cats and dogs.  (Although I note below, she IS wiping a dish.)

Once I ordered a lovely table lamp, the most costly lamp I ever bought, constructed of old mahjongg tiles.  A coworker who shares a taste for Chinoiserie, whom I know must be very tidy and clean -- she's always passing out soap and hand sanitzers as gifts -- said when I showed it to her, "Oh, you must have a lovely home."

Little does she know.

Once my faithful mechanic brought me home because he was going to keep my car overnight; he asked if he could come in for a glass of water (not being of the generation that, like desert nomads, goes nowhere without a bottle of water).  "Sure," I said, "but just to warn you, the place is really a mess."

When he entered, he said, " weren't kidding."  Bear in mind my mechanic wears rubber gloves, like a surgeon or a dentist, when he works on cars.  And when he does dishes.

Then there was the time I was bemoaning my 20-year-old, incontinent cat, when I discovered ...maggots... under a ripe pile of laundry.  (Life in the tropics.) One of my tolerant and good-natured friends still reminds me of that one.

I was thinking about my personal home economics nightmares after reading a recent New Yorker review of a book about the history of "scientific management": The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong."  All about time motion studies and efficiency expertise and management consulting and home economics (management science for women of the 1930s), which the author concludes is not a science but a "party trick."

I thought motion efficiency was pretty cool one time when I had bushels of apples to peel after an unusually large harvest from our nine trees.  I developed a little "form" (as in certain martial arts practices), to accomplish this task very easily.  I've never had to do it again.

Now I find adding efficiency and metrics (I hate that term) to life just becomes an activity itself, and takes away from the time I have to read, write, and paint, and explore China and Chinatown.  As for the dirt and clutter, since they say "you can't take it with you," I just pass over it (unless it makes me stumble -- I am what the late Peg Bracken called a "random housekeeper.")  Ignorance is bliss.

You should be glad I'm not your doctor!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Ending the day about a third of the way through my latest 30-hour TVB (Shaw Brothers' televison) acquisition, "Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion," a wu xia-kung fu series, with Raymond Lam and another surprise, from "Master of Tai Chi", not, more's the pity, Vincent Zhao, but a guy whose identity I deduced from comparing the credits of both series, one Power Chan.  He played number two brother in the kung fu clan of Vincent's rival (Raymond) in Master of Tai Chi, but here he turns up as a career thief, junior sifu, clever guy and comic relief.  I suppose his "English" name is no stranger than Jet Li.  Power and Jet...good names for kung fu actors.

Power Chan 
The character, who now that I think of it has a Bilbo Baggins kind of quality, is usually carrying a long pipe with a bag of tobacco dangling from the bowl.  He occasionally employs it as a weapon.  It's the best tobacco prop I've seen since David Strathairn's cigarette in "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Stylish Pipe and Smoking Jacket
The series itself is lots of fun: no one is who you think they are, and in fact, no one is who THEY think they are.

Kinda like life in the real world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I just switched to the "new editor" here on Blogger, but I notice they seem to have forgotten the spell-check option.  (I see by searching "Help" there are some workarounds, none of which is as easy as the original spell-check.  And there is supposed to be a highlight incorrect spelling feature, but it seems to depend on your browser and OS.)

As a poor typist, I want my spell checker. But, as a copy editor, I have very mixed feelings: I never rely on or urge anyone else to use spell checking as the definitive, final edit.

The new editor does make loading images much easier (although the old one forced me to learn some html.)

Perhaps this oversight means eveyone is just loading photos now; no real writing is being done by the You-tube crowd? 

Next to be disabled: the CAPS key?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I was looking for a photograph of someone and came across this image of the Wizard and the someone, resting after we had just successfully navigated down from Pike's Peak in a Ford Explorer that had lost all its transmission fluid.  This occurred about 1,000 feet from the summit; we could see it, but we never made it to the top.  I suspect the trip was more memorable--has it been 5 years already?-- because of the mechanical failure.

But now what seems funny to me now is this image --were they about to break into some Celtic folk dance of manly celebration, having negotiated the mountain?  The Wizard says that at meetings men often mimic other men's gestures and poses -- if one clasps hands behind the nape of the neck, chances are good that another will follow suit, quite unconsciously. Now I have a reason to look forward to a meeting; I can test and verify this theory. I was probably sensitive to the foot positioning because I've been watching so many martial arts movies; footwork and stance is part of the quality of the kung fu.

Or did it seem funny to me because I was demolishing drinking a gift bottle of Japanese Scotch (yes, Kirin whisky) at the time, not my favorite, a little too Islay for my taste, but respectable and deserving of the "whisky" spelling. It was enhanced by the Hershey's Special Dark Kisses I was eating at the same time.  (Nicer than a cigar.) Wish I'd had it up on the mountain when we were waiting for the transmission to cool down!  Then I might have danced a little jig.

And speaking of strange footwork, check THIS out.  It gets interesting about 40 seconds in.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I had doubts that I would be able to gaze at the moon last night; the day was cloudy, stormy, humid, and rainy. I monitored the sky through the evening and, disappointed, retired to bed with a Stephen Chow movie and Old Pu's book.

Later I awoke at 3 a.m. The light was bright, but not fully full moonish. Out on the lanai I watched the moon, moving like a lantern behind heavy brocade, peeping in and out of the trailing edge of the storm system that was passing. I contemplated that for a while, savoring the fragrance of wet earth and a soft damp breeze, before returning to bed, where my dreams were twisted with allusions from "Royal Tramp II" and the strange event we attended earlier in the day.

Splendor of China was...interesting. Lots of booths of Chinese vendors and organizations (along with the usual offerings of Tupperware and high-end cars; is anyone actually lured to buy a Jaguar, Porsche or Land-Rover at one of these exhibitions: the Chinese didn't seem to be buying ANYTHING except food). No one was visiting the display by the City promoting its rail transit plan. I picked up some brochures from the Confucius Institute at the University of Hawaii's Center for Chinese Studies. It is connected with Beijing Foreign Studies University, where the Wizard may have taught for a period in the year before Tiananmen (there are two BFSUs, not sure which one this is). I missed the actual Chinese dog show, but there were people wandering around with Shar Peis, Chow Chows, Pekingese, Pugs and Shih Tzus on leashes. Even the Wizard, not a dog fancier, was quite taken with a small grey Shar Pei bitch. I once cuddled one of these puppies in its too loose skin; like a baby in an oversized onesy, it snuggled into my neck and snuffled and cooed. If I'd had $500 in my pocket at the time, I would have bought it. The small Chinese dogs are as self possessed as their bigger compatriots. There was a Peke that owned the street in Wudang. It never was on a leash.

The Emperor of Wudangshan

After wandering around the hall for a while, we went to the stage area where the Narcissus girls were modeling "fashions" available at the show from the Chinese vendors. (They really should have staged the posing among the cars.) These very pretty, poised, polished, smiling young women I'm sure would never be caught off the stage in any of these demure, vaguely mandarin-styled garments (except possibly, one might hope, one stunning red sleeveless qipao cut to the thigh). The Wizard enjoyed the catwalking, but we both were more charmed by the dancing that followed, by the Phoenix Dance Chamber, a local Chinese troupe that we have been watching for a decade, both having friends who are involved as dancers and producers. Brightly rouged six-year-olds doing Mongolian horse dances will make you weep tears of joy!

The final stage piece was the qi gong/kung fu performance by the "undisputed master of penis qigong and iron crotch." (Why would anyone WANT to "lift 100 pounds with their privates" anyway?) The Master's daughter opened with an impressive wushu routine with a wooden pole (her own version of penis kung fu, perhaps). In contrast to the Narcissus princesses, she was a tough-looking girl with a rough haircut; she could be cast as a bad guy in any of the wuxia films I've been watching. But dad was even stranger, one of the curly headed Chinese--a qi gong master with a perm? "I think he's Filipino," the Wizard said, although he spoke Mandarin. Outfitted in a wife-beater tank and some sort of complicated cropped cargo pants and boots, the excessively buff master broke some plywood boards with his fingertips, and kicked some bricks into oblivion. Then he demonstrated some qi gong techniques. The Chinese in the audience stood to obediently, if awkwardly, try his healing tricks for their hearts, headaches and insomnia. They were all basic techniques I acquired in Wudang (8 brocades) and with another local teacher. Then Master told us, through his interpreter, we could learn more at his shows at some hotel in Waikiki. Or we could buy his DVDs (just $25) over at the booth in aisle three. It was all way too commercial-Shaolin-monk-stage-act for my taste (been there, done that in Beijing), and though I'm sure he's genuine, he certainly didn't have the stylish charm of Jet Li or the sex appeal (speaking of penis qi gong on this yin holiday) of the equally well developed Vincent Zhao.

On the way out of the hall, I picked up three cheap Andy Lau DVDs from an organization that assists Chinese studying in Hawaii (probably with visa and green card applications). The representative was surprised that, on the cover of "The Warlords" I recognized Takeshi Kaneshiro, right, (who seems to me the Orlando Bloom, left, of Chinese film-- see John Woo's Red Cliff movies and compare with Kingdom of Heaven).

"Wow. You can tell all these guys apart," he said to this old haole woman. "Yeah, and you know, you look a lot like Anthony Wong," I said. He was oddly flattered. Turns out since the Wizard is an academic, we all had some mutual acquaintances. It was an amusing conclusion to the Moon Festival afternoon.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I will be thinking of all my friends, especially those of the female persuasion, tonight, as I engage in some gazing at the moon on the 15th day of the 8th moon, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It looks like it will be a lovely one. In preparation, I am going to an exhibition of Chinese things this afternoon where I expect to see qigong and kung fu demos, a Lion Dance, a fashion show with the contestants for the Hawaii Miss Narcissus pageant (well, that's mostly incentive for the Wizard to join me), a Chinese dog show, and perhaps a little shopping at booths of Chinese vendors of Hawaii. (The event is after all sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.) I will look for some mooncakes to enjoy with my Wudang Tao tea -- or wine --while looking at the moon from my lanai.

Moon Festival is when yin is about to overcome yang (in a very TAO 61 way) and has a lot of interesting legends and meanings associated with it.

I offer for your pleasure this Tang Dynasty poem by Li Bo (701-762), from Summertime Splendor:

A pot of wine among the flowers:
I drink alone, no kith or kin near.
I raise my cup to invite the moon to join me;
It and my shadow make a party of three.
Alas, the moon is unconcerned about drinking,
And my shadow merely follows me around.
Briefly I cavort with the moon and my shadow;
Pleasure must be sought while it is spring.
I sing and the moon goes back and forth,
I dance and my shadow falls at random.
While sober we seek pleasure in fellowship;
When drunk we go each our own way.
Then let us pledge a friendship without human ties
And meet again at the far end of the Milky Way.
(Translated by Irving Y. Lo)