Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

While the illegal smoky noisy New Year's fireworks slowly begin, like a thunderstorm building off in the distance, scaring the catshit out of The Yellow Emperor, I watch a Netflix-acquired DVD, Mysterious China: Holy Mountain, a spiritual travelogue I stumbled across in my recent queue update, about Wudangshan and Taoism.  It's like watching Hawaii 5-0. (I guess; I never do that, really.)  But Wudang... Hey, I know that temple, I've been on that peak, up those stairs.That's the tea shop...the medicine shop! I've hugged that hermit, and he's hugged me.  (I broke his chair and he gave me dates.) The video convinces me that the one Taoist art I really would like to acquire is Tai Chi sword.  You see women doing that a lot.  Why might that be?

Peppered with a lot of elegant Wudang Taoist qigong and kungfu performances in exquisite settings, the video ends with an astonishing display of contortion by an attractive guy who looks just like Nicholas Tse doing things with his joints and feet that seem impossible and un-Taoist-ly unnatural, but suggesting that Chinese acrobatics started on Wudang Mountain.  Forget that head-butting brick-breaking karate-style stuff the Shaolin guys do; can you put your right foot behind your left ear while balancing on your index fingers?

But I shouldn't be so callous.  I am inspired to return to Wudang. As the video concludes,  "Once you have been exposed the magic of Wudang Mountain and immersed yourself in The Way, the spirit of Taoism will stay in your heart forever."

In the meantime, I return to episode 39 of 51 of Emperor of the Sea and fantasize about a little sword play with Song Il-guk as Yum Moon (at this point in the drama named Yum Jang...but still Yummy).  Not a bad way to spend New Year's Eve.
Yum Whoever

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

I should be wrapping presents, but I've gotten lost in updating of my Netflix queue.  Despite the furor over the DVD/streaming cost differentials and changes, it's still a pretty cool service. I never had Netflix until I got my iPad, which came preloaded with the App.  I didn't find a lot to add to my queue among the new releases, but the Chinese region offerings are overwhelming, both DVD and streaming.

I put a Wudangshan documentary in the queue, then I realized I'd gone over the edge when this screamed "Queue me, queue me!":

Star Appeal...Chinese filmmaker Cui Zien directs this gay-themed sci-fi drama about Xiao Bo, a bisexual man who discovers a stranger by the roadside, naked and claiming to be from Mars.  In Mandarin.

It's only got a 1.7 member rating, about as low as I've seen, but really, how can I pass it up?  I've never seen a Chinese gay-themed sci-fi movie.  I think I have to move this one up to No. 1.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Spirit?

I think I'm beginning to get it!

Kim Jong-il
I always thought white was the color for funereal things in Asia, but I guess the North Koreans see it more like a wedding?  Oh's that Communist Red.

Looks like a sleeping Santa!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fried Fast Food on a Full Moon

Not a good idea!  I should know better -- I do know better -- but something about the holiday season makes judgement fly out the window like a lot of reindeer on a mission, driven by a rotund guy in a funny hat shouldering a big bag of Jack in the Box...and I don't mean the archaic toys. My digestion last night was eclipsed even more profoundly than the actual eclipse of the night before, of which I did manage to catch the waning portion at 4:30 a.m.  It can't be that cold if I can stand naked on the lanai in the moonlight without shivering, although I didn't linger that long.

Last night I should have left my warm bed to sit upright while contemplating the full moon, trying a Moon Cream Meditation that was demonstrated last spring in Wudang, but I was tormented restless with excess stomach acid and vivid dreams, if I really was asleep, of Dickensian England and medieval Korea.  I'd just finished the 8th and final episode of Bleak House, Dickens's tale of an interminable lawsuit which pretty much consumes all the plaintiffs up to the point where the final will is discovered.  Simultaneously discovered is that the lawyers have consumed the estate, so there's nothing left to distribute anyway. The adaptation does have a positive, if not completely happy, ending (and reminds me that there is one last element in my father's estate, latent over five years, which could possibly pay for a trip to China...Resolution for Year of Dragon: must call lawyer.)  I don't think I could have endured actually reading Bleak House; the screenplay with the marvelous late Denholm Elliot and Diana Rigg, was compelling and sufficient, though I could tell there was probably a lot left out in the 8-hour 1985 BBC rendering: quantity, if not quality. (Dickens was a paid-by-the-word writer...where do I get a gig like that?) 

I thought I might try another piece from the BBC collection, but The Pickwick Papers failed to grab me; I succumbed to revisiting a favorite Korean drama, Emperor of the Sea.  I needed a Song Il-guk fix and though he doesn't appear until the fourth Korean hour of the 51-episode drama, when he does, it's worth it.  Just as savvy as Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow, but more sinister, and less Keith Richards grubby, not BBC but KBS, the Pirate of the Yellow Sea may see me through the holidays, even though a new Korean Drama, a birthday present, waits to be opened up.

Song Il-guk as the delectable Yum Moon
How ironic to recall on this morning after serious lunar events and indigestion that SIG's character is named Yum Moon!

Monday, December 05, 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday

And it came and went, with a little help from my friends.  Although that's probably the wrong song.  This is the right one. This is the first birthday I have experienced where I have not prematurely rounded up my age to get used to it, to exploit it, in the coming year.  No, this one was a little more hesitant, the year of rabbit can continue a little longer for me before the dragon arrives; then I will acknowledge reality.  I celebrated less than I contemplated the aging process.  Birthdays are milestones, but meaningless really, except in that they give an opportunity to review one's progress and destiny.  Are we older AND wiser?  If the Taoist is actually returning to childlike innocence, immortal fetuses and all that, I only hope I can achieve it while maintaining control of bladder and bowels.

I spent my day in a fog, really, getting ready for acquisition of the Christmas tree -- my actual birthday present.  As I predicted, this year we scored a perfectly satisficing one in less than three minutes at the lot at Ala Moana Shopping Center.  These are not decisions that should require agonizing dithering. The next decision was equally easy: an party-of-two afternoon in both of our downtown Irish pubs, literally across the street from one another.

The day after the day, I tested my new all-region DVD player which failed to play my gift from my friendly Chinatown DVD vendor, Andy Lau's Future X-Cops, (what was she thinking?) which seems to coded be for a region beyond the Milky Way.  Perhaps just as well: I was bleary-eyed after finally completing Jewel in the Palace, a popular Korean drama about cooking and medicine, with some restrained romantic and political intrigue with an uncharacteristically happy ending.  My own trusty laptop has suffered--I hope sustained--a logic board failure, so I was using the Wizard's older one to access  His Mac drops signals and has some display issues, but I finally can say I have enjoyed this 54-episode classic of K-D. (That's 54 Korean hours, which are just about 60 minutes, more or less.) Since starting it some months ago, I see by my own reckoning, I have watched at least 40 other films and several Chinese series. Why can't I speak fluent Mandarin yet?  But the DVD player did let me enjoy a strange double feature:  The Magic Blade, a 1976 Shaw Brothers classic, and Chen Kaige's Together.  Still I can't get the haunting theme from Jewel in the Palace out of my mind.  Here is the same theme, in the "sad" mode.

I don't know why anyone would waste time with reality TV or the sitcom trash available on your standard cable lineup, when you could enjoy this:

Handsome and beautiful characters, engaging plots, scenery, costumes and soundtracks.  And that's just the historical stuff!