Leaving on a jet plane

29 05 2012

China-bound tomorrow!  Not sure if I will be able to blog/update things over there, but I will do my best.  In other news, I finally finished Great Expectations today.  What an excellent, excellent piece of literature.  Loved it.

If I don’t manage to update anything while I’m away, see you all in 3 weeks!

Mao hates me

23 03 2012

March 23, 2012


As usual, not sure how it began.  I found myself with a whole bunch of other people bagging popcorn out of Fifth Ave’s bags in this giant, multi-sided popcorn popper.  The kernels weren’t popping correctly, however, because the water was “cold” (although it takes no water to actually make popcorn).  So we got half-popped kernels and there was a lot of people waiting or something.  Anyway, eventually it got going, and I “knew” was supposed to deliver the popcorn to my friend Kaori, who was sitting at a nearby table.  When I walked over, G. was sitting beside her.  He was a zombie: full of wounds, flesh hanging off his body, torn clothes, gashes everywhere, dead eyes.  I kind of stared at him a bit, then gave her the popcorn and returned to the popper.  I filled another bag (with some difficulty), and when I turned to go back to her, G. was there, no longer a zombie.  He was wearing his red hoodie that I remember him wearing so much.  We stood so close together that our noses touched, and he said sonething about kissing him.  We didn’t kiss though.

Eventually, the popcorn was done and there was this strange pile of DVDs in the shape of a coffee table that, every few seconds or so, would emit a burst of flames.  The DVDs create a tunnel that, coincidentally, is also where the fire explodes out from.  People standing around me are too afraid to crawl into the pile of DVDs to get some sort of thing inside a DVD, but I have no fear– I crawl in quickly and then quickly hide behind a pile of movies before I get incinerated by the next blast of fire.  I find the DVD everyone is going crazy for, and open it.  There’s a keychain with a mini baseball on it.  It is only then that I realize everyone is standing around me, towering over me as I’m still on the ground.  I guess the coffee table-DVDs wasn’t exactly closed off.  So I stand up with the baseball keychain, and people start “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing, saying it’s so special and what an honour and all that.  I still have no idea what it means.  Then my co-worker Julie comes by and someone must’ve said it was for her because the next thing I know, she’s smiling like a madman and super excited.  She says that this guy, whose name I forget, gave it to her before he died because he created the TV showXenaand wanted her to be Xena.  Julie gives me a hug and says how thankful she is.

Julie starts skipping away, excited, when I realize there are bad guys coming.  Suddenly, we’re all running for our lives.  I run in Julie’s direction, telling her to run away, and she does, except now they’re chasing me (naturally).  I run down Victoria Drive a bit, then turn around and I see who’s chasing me: Mao Zhe Dong, complete with Communist uniform.  He, along with a bunch of other people dressed in black, are getting closer and closer.  I find myself on this hoverboard thing that’s probably no bigger than a plate and I’m trying to float away, but of course it goes a sloth’s pace.  There’s a group of people in front of me that I know are Mao’s cronies, and I somehow turn them into popcorn.  When Mao and his army stampede on the popcorn, I yell to Mao, “Do you know what you just did?”, then I try to turn the popcorn back into his people, so that he’ll see he killed his own people.  Can’t remember if it worked or not.

I get to this open field and Mao is pretty much right behind me.  He starts attacking me, as I tell him it will be futile to attack since I can fly up to the clouds and evade him, but it doesn’t happen.  I can’t go higher, which is really annoying.  I think they start throwing books at me.  It all suddenly became this game because this one woman starts complaining loudly that one of her books hit me when in fact it didn’t.  I tell her that I would know if the book hit me or not and that she’s dumb.  Suddenly (again), I’m in this house with two women throwing books at me.  At first the books are orange; then, after they’re thrown, they turn into a teal colour, and after a while, the book falls apart and they start throwing new orange books again.  They do this for a while, and actually, the books are sort of alive themselves.  They manage to throw one that lands in a wardrobe.  It flutters around inside for a bit, and I go over on my hoverboard plate and lock the door so it can’t get out.  The women don’t have any other books to use (I guess they are restricted to throwing one book at a time).  After some exchange of words, I somehow leave the house and I’m back in the real world.

Saturday Morning Documenty: BBC Natural World: Panda Makers

22 01 2011

Okay, so Panda Makers doesn’t sound as cool as Monkey-Eating Eagle but at least it lives up to its name.  And if you like pandas, there’s plenty of OMG-I’m-dying-from-cuteness! in this episode of Natural World.

Because of the endagerment of giant pandas, folks in a city in China started a breeding program consisting of raising 300 pandas in captivity and then releasing them into the wild in the hopes of increasing the population.  This, of course, is controversial because, as David Attenborough (YES!!!!) explains, many captivity breeding programs around the world have failed and some people are arguing that all the money and time being spent on the pandas could be used to protect or save a different species.  However, consider the alternative: doing nothing and letting the panda population slowly become overwhelmed by humans.  It’s worth a try, right?

The footage, as usual, is fantastic.  We get right up close to lots of pandas in the captivity as well as some in the wild.  There’s a tense scene with a female in a cage who is ready to mate but she, along with the male she is set up with, don’t seem to be able to get the hang of it and start to get frustrated, leading to some aggression.  At one point, there’s also footage of a live panda birth, which frankly surprised me as the baby panda suddenly popped out, slippery and squealing.  I didn’t know baby pandas slipped out so easily like that!

What I like best about this episode is, like Planet Earth, there is a gentle nudge of conservation and environmentalism — much more prevalent for obvious reasons in this episode.  Coupled with cute images of panda cubs, it’s impossible not to feel for the furry little creatures (and if you don’t, then hooray, you’ve successfully become an android!).

And last but not least, watching this reminded me of one of my sister’s cats named Panda, named so because of the two black circles around her eyes.  Panda panda!!!!  I miss that cat.

Pandas and workers

Panda cubs with workers at the centre

Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema

19 08 2010

Only one film tonight.

Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema

Synopsis: A documentary about gender and sexual orientation in Chinese cinema since the 1930s.

Super awesome things: This is a rare glimpse into Chinese films dating as early as the 1930s, which I had never seen before.  Because of Stanley Kwan’s access to the Chinese film archives, we get a superb look at China and Hong Kong’s history of films.  Included are also interviews with Chinese filmmakers including Ang Lee, John Woo, and Hsaio-hsein Hou, who give their opinions on their own films, possibly undertones of homosexuality/queerness, and their views on the subjects.  Also, Stanley Kwan’s mother is awesome.

Not so super awesome things: To be fair, the film was made in 1996, so it’s almost 15 years old, and the quality of the film definitely shows.  There are very close up on the interviewees for no paticular reason, it seemed, and on a big screen, was very in-your-face.  Though the film is only an hour, it did feel a little a long, and I didn’t get a good sense of the current state of Chinese cinema or where it might be heading — would Chinese cinema become more open to gay characters?  How about Chinese culture and its attitudes towards queerness?  Is it changing?  The most frustrating part of the film was the inaccurate subtitles.  Being able to mostly understand Cantonese, I could see how for the most part, there was a lot lost in translation.  Subtitles up on screen would be serious and yet the interviewees would say funny things and so a small portion of the audience would laugh, while others only saw what was up there.  My friend who sat next to me could understand Mandarin, and I believe he was also frustrated at the Mandarin parts (he threw up his hands in the middle of the movie and I think he said, “That’s not what he/she said.”).  And sometimes the interviewees would say English words that wouldn’t even appear in the subtitles, which is obviously wrong, and the meaning of what they were saying was slightly different.  I don’t know why it was so hard to get an accurate translation.

Good for watching:  to watch some clips of old Chinese films.  And to see Leslie Cheung while he was still alive.   😦

Overall:  Good, a little long and slow at parts, but interesting nonetheless.

Grade:  B-

Saturday Morning Documentary: Paul Merton in China

16 07 2010
The funny Paul Merton

The funny Paul Merton

Who’s Paul Merton?  Well, for those of us North Americans, he is well-known in England as a comedian/occasional actor and his travels in China are unique and interesting, to say the least.  His goal was to explore China the unconventional way, avoiding the typical tourist attractions like the Great Wall to get a glimpse of the true heart of the country.  Merton’s charm and humor draw viewers in every episode and he serves as the perfect host for the series.  With only 4 episodes of his travels in China, he still manages to do quite a lot — from eating exotic and strange cuisine like a donkey’s penis in the first episode to buying a pair of fighting crickets that escape on the train to visiting a Shaolin temple complete with martial arts-practicing monks.

What makes this series unique is the people he meets along the way who are full of heart, full of stories that we never see in other travel shows.  The villagers in rural China who have lived that way are unsure of their children’s future as urban areas expand and cover their land is a sad an unfortunate situation — the traditional and the modern way in conflict.  Because it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, I can’t fully recall all the things Paul does and all the people he meets but I can say that this is a fun, humorous series — like a B-sides disc to the more well-known album.  A definite favourite of mine to watch for the beautiful landscape and to take a look at the China people rarely, if ever, see.

Random memory: giant escalator

13 07 2010

A long time ago when I was young, I was watching tv, presumably with another one of my family members.  On the television was this strange program; it was in black and white and there was what appeared to be an escalator out of nowhere.  But it was absolutely enormous, and was able to carry maybe a hundred or so people.  The quality of the film itself wasn’t very good, as if taken a long time ago.  The escalator was heading up — to what, I don’t know.  Then suddenly, without warning, it stopped.  People began falling down the escalator, slowly and silently.  For some reason, this still haunts me to this day.