Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Year in Review

2008 was one crazy year. I started to really blog in June of this year. I haven't had as much time these last few weeks and for good reason. I recently welcomed another addition to my family. Sleepless nights do not translate to more blog entries.

This was the year of the Olympics. The build up to it was quite something.


In May, China was the focus due to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

I also got into America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC) on MTV. Kaba Modern was my favorite crew.


During the summer, a much anticipated Wuxia drama, Legend of the Condor Heroes was released.


The summer also brought the 命中註定我愛你. Which became the highest rated Taiwanese drama to date.


The best selling Taiwanese movie was also released this summer to much fanfare, 海角七號 - (Cape No. 7).


The summer movie season was kick started with my movie of the year, Iron Man.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

海角七號 - Cape No. 7



I picked up 海角七號 (Cape No. 7) at a local entertainment store with English Subs recently. The majority of 海角七號 is in Taiwanese, so I knew I had to have a version with English subtitles. I've had the China version for a few weeks now, but couldn't understand it as the movie starts in Japanese and runs mostly in Taiwanese. Only about 25% of the movie is in Mandarin, of which is the only other language I know besides English. Even though the main female protagonist speaks in Mandarin and Japanese and does not understand Taiwanese.

The movie is about the formation of a band to open up for an Japanese artist. A local hotel has a beach stage set up for this special event. Local tough guy 洪國榮 and crew are unhappy with the hotel. Specifically how the hotel came to 恆春鎮 (Hengchun) and the townspeople are not benefitting. They find out about the concert and want an opening band to be made up of locals to represent. The search starts and a makeshift group of unique personalities eventually is chosen to form the band. Tomoko is tasked with making this locals' band is presentable. In the backdrop of all this is the story of a address from 60 years past, 海角七號. Which was an address in the 40s, but in modern day Taiwan, it has lost its place.

I've been anticipating this film since the summer and when it was No. 1 in the Taipei films charts for over a month, it added to the hype. I really wanted to catch it at the LA Taiwan Film Festival a couple of weeks back, because of its English Subs.

Did it ever live up to expectations. It was slow to start, but finishes strong. The character development was pretty good and each was developed to move the story along. In the end, I was highly satisfied and proud of that this film is representing the Taiwan film industry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Up the Yangtze - 沿江而上



I caught Up the Yangtze a few weeks back via Netflix. Maybe I should have waited a little bit to watch a documentary right after Planet B-boy.  Up the Yangtze was just ok.  Maybe I was expecting this to be a documentary like Planet B-boy.  It was not.  It wasn't your typical story with point A, B, and C.  There was a message that you had to figure out.  I may not have been in the mode to tax my brain at the time of the watching.

Up the Yangtze follows the people affected by the building of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River.  In particular, they follow 2 youths, Cindy and Jerry whom both get jobs on a cruise ship that travels the Yangtze River.  The movie moves from Cindy, Cindy's family, Cindy's boss, co-workers and Jerry's life quite sporadically.

In the end, I was confused and a felt quite disconnected with the people affected.  I didn't have an emotional attachment to them and nor did I feel the movie told a "story".  It was just a bunch of shorts that are related all thrown together.

Like I said before, I had just watch Planet B-boy the very night before and was just blown away.  Maybe I wasn't ready for this.  Maybe I needed to put my thinking cap on.  I don't know.  I can't really recommend this even with all the accolades it's gotten around the world.  Unless you're really ready to think and think and think.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Planet B-Boy



I caught Planet B-Boy recently via Netflix.  I had been waiting and waiting and waiting for this to be released on DVD for a long time.  I've been reading about this film since 2007 and I was sick and tired of waiting.  When it screened here in Los Angeles earlier in the year, I couldn't make it.  I make it to the cinematheque like once or twice a year now.  Seeing any indie film in a theatre isn't going to happen.

I've seen so many youtube clips, I felt like I had seen enough of the movie already.

Boy was I wrong, the movie was amazing.  Amazing!  Blew me away.

The movie follows 2 crews from Korea, 1 crew from Japan, 1 crew from France, and 1 crew from the USA as they get ready for the 2005 Battle of the Year (BOTY).  It details their wins in the prelims and what breaking and being b-boy is to the individual dancers.  Not all members are featured and some members are featured more promently.  The battles are not completely shown and the pacing is excellent.

At the end, I was not tired nor did I want more.  It was excellent.

I've always been intrigued about breaking since the 80s.  It was a fad that many of the asians kids around here embraced.  That embrace didn't go away and I always looked at it from afar.  Much like my passion for martial arts.  Just like watching it.

I also wrote a blog about Formasa at 2008 BOTY.

If you haven't checked it out, you better check yourself and get a hold of it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

巧克力重擊 - Chocolate Rap



I just got a chance to watch 巧克力重擊 (Chocolate Rap) tonight.  It was quite interesting.

I'll update this post with more info when I do a little more research.

Update 12/18/2008:
After 15+ minutes of googling, I didn't find any useful information.  I don't have the time to look at the chinese sites for information.  So here goes.

The movie is about Chocolate, a rather talented b-boy.  Recruited into a breaking dance troupe, Chocolate finds a career with his skill.  After an accident ends his dancing career, Chocolate decides to give up dancing.  Following in his father's footsteps, Chocolate starts working at his father's factory, ice making and ice cutting.  Chocolate picks up breaking again for recreational purposes and befriends King Kong.  Ultimately, King Kong becomes "evil" and they have to settle it in a competition.  In the end, Chocolate realizes that breaking isn't about others, but about self preservation.

The story was quite intriguing and Chocolate's "coming of age" was interesting.  The conflicts were both internal and external.  In the end, you walk away with both happy and scratching your head.

My favorite scene in the movie is when Chocolate and King Kong are breaking in shallow water.  The song in the background is a famous Tawainese song that takes a Modern and old skool approach.  I was digging it.

I think I see Chocolate in Planet B-boy as part of the Taiwan crew.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

YouTube's "Watch in High Quality" = Amazing!

I frequent YouTube to watch a lot of clips. Especially the Taiwanese variety shows.

But the shows are normally very bad quality and I can barely make out the guest and hosts.

But YouTube introduce the "watch in high quality" option months ago.  Its just now that many of the regular posters are starting to give this option.

It really is night and day.  You go from blurry to clear.  Its not like regular TV to HD, but quite the same effect.  You're like wow, I can't go back.

Props to those that upload in high quaility.  Keep it up.  You're doing the rest of the world a great service.

I am only subscribing to peeps that upload high quality now.  There's no going back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The 1st Los Angeles Taiwanese Film Festival

I recent found that Los Angeles will have its first Los Angeles Taiwanese Film Festival!  It will be held from December 12-14 at UCLA.

Some of the movies being shown there have been quite high profile, including:
  • Jay Chou's directorial debut, Secret
  • The 2006 Taiwan Film Festival Winner, Do Over
  • 2007 Art movie Reflection
  • Taiwan movie box office king of October, Cape No. 7
Some documentaries round out the rest of the time, along with some festival stuff like panels.

Everything is free except for the Cape No. 7 screenings.  I can see why, its the rage of Taiwan and Taiwan see it as an excellent film to promote tourism.

If I weren't so old and have a baby due around that time, I'd guarantee that I'd be there.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Facebook Caching

So, I primarily use Facebook as my social networking tool. I wrote a post about Friendster a few months back and why you should be using Facebook.

Since I am in the web field, I know a thing or two about data caching. Facebook, after all these months still continues to have problems here.

I friends activities are updated in a weird way sometimes and my activities somethings do not show up right away.

So, in layman terms, when things get updated, the public (your friends and yourself) may not see it for a few moments. In technical terms, the cache isn't being refreshed.

I hope Facebook arch team figures this out. It's not a major annoyance, but it is one. It's tricky and I know with the type of web traffic they get, it's something they pull their hair out about all the time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles

I don't recall the 70s, but LA has had Chinese Language TV since the 80s on KSCI, Channel 18.  Since the 90s, they've added cable stations and the 00s, digital channels and broadbrand's KyLin TV.

Most recently, IAVC is starting a 24/7 digital station on channel 44.6.  Here's an excerpt of their media kit release:
"On December, 1, 2008, IAVC will launch one 24/7 Chinese channel on UHF Ch.44.6, TV viewers in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Ventura County may watch IAVC’s digital-quality channel without paying any fees."


That's pretty cool since I don't have cable or dish.  I rely on free TV.  Up until a couple of days ago, they were on this repeated commerical that looped every so often.  They seem to be showing regular stuff now.   But there's the big "TEST" in the middle of the screen, so it looks like they really are waiting until 12/1.

Back in the 90s, channel 62 (KRCA) use to have chinese broadcast.  But I think that the increase in cable stations may have played in a role in those broadcasts ending.  I am just guessing.  I use to watch a show called "Flash Beat" with a host named Harry.  Ironically, Harry and I went to the same high school and church, but didn't know each other from there.  But were introduced by a mutal friend years later.

If you're in the LA area, you can get Chinese Language TV for free, on cable, on satalite, or broadbrand.  Its just a mater of looking for it.

Related Posts:
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, Part 2
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, Part 3
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, April 2009
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, May 2009
Chinese Language TV in Los Angeles, October 2009

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Destined To Love You on LA 18 KCSI (命中註定我愛你)



I recently finished 命中註定我愛你. I did an initial review back in September. In my September post, I noted that it might be shown in early 2009 on my hometown's public Chinese station, LA 18 (KCSI). Boy was I wrong. Probably because its a highest rated Taiwanese drama to date, they let it jump to the front of the line.

My guess is that its not going to have English subs. There are copies being sold on ebay and abroad with English Subs (Malaysian version), but KCSI normally broadcast the Taiwan versions. Unless there's a Taiwan version with English subs, it'll be Traditinal Chinese subs. We'll find out in 2 days when they broadcast the first episode on Wednesday, November 17, 2008.

Although I already have it on DVD, its good that the general Chinese public here in LA will have a chance to see it. Hopefully, it'll give LA 18 a ratings bump.

Monday, November 17, 2008

基因決定我愛你 - My DNA Says I Love You



I saw 基因決定我愛你 - My DNA Says I Love You a few months ago. I was a fan of Robin Lee's The Shoe Fairy and was anticipating this film.

DNA was quite weird, but was ultimately enjoyable. I think that the casting of Yu Nan was out of place as the other 3 stars were from Taiwan. You can tell the dialect difference right away (at least I could) along with the rest of the bit players.

The setting however was in China somewhere and not in Taiwan (at least from what I can tell).

The story follows 2 ladies and 2 gentlemen that look for love in different ways. The 2 ladies are co-workers and roommates. They work for a company that provides pills that modify behavior. A novel concept. Hijinx ensues and love is lost & found for both our female protagonist. The male counterparts almost seem like eye candy as the story is really centered around the 2 female leads.

It's an "art" film and really makes you work to understand it all. But its worth the mind trip and I have a lot of anticipation for future Robin Lee films.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Heights - Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Diamond Bar

I've never lived in a Chinatown.  My parents and immediate relatives have not either.  So, its funny that there are so many Chinatowns around the world.  I do try to see them when I can.  I've been able to check the Chinatowns in LA, SF, NYC, Chicago, Sydney, Seattle, and KL.  I missed my chance when I was in the Dominican Republic.

But in the Los Angeles area, "chinese" culture or inhabitants don't live or even frequent a "chinatown".  "Little Taipei" is a nickname given to suburb cities that have a high concentration of Taiwan immigrants, both 外省人 and  本省人.

Among friends that I grew up with that lived in these Little Taipeis, we sorta refer to the area as "The Heights".   They consist of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Diamond Bar.  The main drag is sorta in a shape of a square that's Fullerton, Colima, Nogales, and Gale.  There are drags on Azusa, Hacienda Blvd, and Grand, but pale in numbers to those of that main drag.  The only reason Walnut and DB are included is that the cities include many many Chinese/Taiwanese folks that end up going to Rowland Heights anyways.

The term was used when many of us started going away for College.  But when they returned for the holidays and summer, we would say, "when you coming back to the heights?"  We even named our now defunct mailing list "The Heights".  I would say that 90% or more of these guys are no longer in the Heights area (are you close to the area you were primarily raised in?).  I seem to be one of the few that's left.

You'll get your supermarkets, food places, and all those video stores!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

南拳媽媽

I happened on 南拳媽媽 recently because of 南拳媽媽's Lara's collaboration with Jay Chau on his snake song.

From the looks of it, they've been around for a few years with 5 albums.  I'll have to look into getting some in the future.  But I was able to check out their videos on YouTube and Lara's collab with Jay.  Very strong group.

I am finding more and more that I like in the Taiwan pop music scene.  I've sorta given up on the American music scene.  I buy 3 taiwan CDs vs 1 american nowadays.  To bad my chinese will never good enough to get in on the Karaoke stuff.

Here's a recent song from 南拳媽媽, 下雨天 (rainy day) and Lara in Jay's snake song.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Dual blogging

I've been blogging since late 2006 on Xanga.  I've found Xanga difficult to use and I wanted an autodraft option.  I am giving blogger.com a try.

I blog mostly about Taiwan music, movies, and television idol dramas.   But I also include random stuff that happens to me on a day to day basis.  But in general, its a view on pop culture in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore with an Chinese American flavor.  I do comment on Asian American culture as well, but sparingly.

In the future, I will be slowly moving all my post from xanga over here.  I currently have 102 post over there, so I'll fill in the days here with post from my xanga side.

Thanks for tuning in.  It's your time wasted.

XM Radio

Originally posted on xanga.

I got XM Radio as a 3 month subscription trial when I pick up my sweet 2008 Honda Odyssey back in June. They ran a $4.99 per month special, 3 months only, that I jump on. So, in essence, I have XM radio for roughly $15 for 6 months. Not bad. I really liked the the trance and 80s heavy metal channels.

But, 2 days ago, on 11/12, they merge or did a new lineup change in conjunction with their Sirius radio merge.

Well, half my programmed stations disappeared and other random ones appeared. Just crazy, imagine my disdain as I am trying to figure this out as I am driving! Driving! Most stations have DJs and I don't recall any of them mentioning this. I do not frequent the XM Radio website. I did not give them my email when I signed up. But no snail mail later?

Nothing! I will not be continuing my subscription once its up in December. I wonder how that works, will it just disappear?

The price has got to come down for me to even consider it in the future. I don't even have cable/dish.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

High School Days

Originally posted on xanga.

So, recently, a new phenomenon has been happening to me on Facebook. Getting back in touch with people that I went to High School with.

So, I looked at the rest of the people listed as part of my class.

What the heck, I don't know most of the 50+ people currently listed there. I go look for my yearbook. Can't find it. On a recent trip back to my parents, I find it.

I look at my yearbook and I don't know any of these people too. What's going on. Is my memory that bad?

My class was roughly 550+ and I can't remember more than like 20 of them.

So sad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

愛的發聲練習 - My So-Called Love - Upcoming

Originally posted on xanga.



I am looking forward to the new Taiwan movie 愛的發聲練習 being released on 11/21. I probably won't get to see until much later. It stars 大S, 彭于晏 and 張孝全.

Check out the trailer and the recent appearance on 康熙来了 on 11/10 to promote it.






Monday, November 10, 2008

Greezy Food

Originally posted on xanga.

I should really start taking pictures of the food I eat. Its nasty, greezy and down right bad for me.

I went to Colima Burger and Farmer boys all within 5 days!

I need to run a gazillion miles to work this all off.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

命中註定我愛你 (Destiny to Love/Fated to Love You) Final Thoughts

Originally posted on xanga.



I finally finished watching 命中註定我愛你 this past week. I wrote a brief description of it back in September.

I picked up the OST as well which happened to be very good.

The dramas happens to be one of the better ones I've seen recently. I only finish a whole idol drama about 50% of the time.

The story did drag on at the end and I was actually surprised that I didn't fast forward that much.

Its a drama I've recommended my wife to watch. You should probably pick it up and check it out too.

Facebook

Originally posted on xanga.

What it is about Facebook that makes everyone get on it so religiously?

If you look at the activities of your friends, its constant and all they various groups of friends you have do very different things.

I couldn't join in the beginning because you needed a EDU email address. But once they took that restriction off, the floodgates have been open.

Unlike friendster and myspace, I actually enjoy using Facebook. I don't mind it. It was always a struggle to stay up on friendster and myspace.

Facebook has also become people's photo albums. I am guessing that flickr is jealous.

I think Facebook has met that delicate balance for a social networking. Its doing what google did to the industry back in the day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fatal Contact - 黑拳

Originally posted on xanga.



I recently had the chance to re-watch Fatal Contact (黑拳) while washing a boatload of dishes one night. It stars Wu Jing (吳京) as an Chinese opera performer sucked into the ruthless world of underground street fighting.

The films two females lead are from the Cookies, Miki Yeung and Theresa Fu.

The film has several fight scenes and builds like a video game. The fights get progressively harder and more dangerous.

Eventually, the characters are further explored and fleshed out.

Tragedy prevails and like many HK movies of the past, its not an happy ending.

However, the last scene does inspire and make you think of "what could have been".

When I first watched this film a year or so ago, I thought it was awesome. At least the fighting was. I actually fast forwarded through most of the non action. But this time around, I couldn't do it as I was washing dishes. I actually caught the story and thought it was quite morbid.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History In the Making

Originally posted on xanga.

The USA elected its 44th president tonight.

It is history in the making for the United States.

The US economy needs fixing. The housing market needs to be stabilized. We've got energy issues to address.

Oh, there's those wars we're in too.

Lots of fixing.

I got out and voted. I hope you did too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lakers Start 2008-2009 Campaign

Originally posted on xanga.

I've been watching the Lakers as far back as I can remember. I remember growing up on Magic and Kareem. Now its the Kobe era and the basketball is finally getting back to its championship form. The defense is awesome.

The Lakers are 2-0 after dispatching 2 teams with "potential".

Here in LA, the Clippers and Lakers had their own broadcast on. Its funny on the Clippers broadcasters have to pump up the Clips even when they are terrible.

I do hope for a repeat of last year, but not the end result. I hope for another banner at Staples. I'll be back there someday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tonights Bedtime Story - Chinese Lessons

Originally posted on xanga.

My daughter had way too much energy today and it was getting late. So I busted out my Chinese book and started reading it to her. She was interactive with me to about lesson 15 or so. I think she fell asleep around 25 or so. I read it all the way to lesson 40.

It was fun. considering there are 125 lessons, I haven't reached my goal I set back in 2006.

On a side note. I watched the Lakers live online today! Amazing! I don't have cable so I normally have to wait for local highlights. Not today, I watched via TNT/Yahoo! Sports

Monday, October 27, 2008

My beloved 1994 Accord

Originally posted on xanga.

I had to part ways with my 1994 Honda Accord, 20+ odd days ago.

I had that car from October 1994 to October 2008. 5 days short of 14 years!

I drove is for 248K too. The past 4 years, I didn't put as much mileage as I did the first few years. I was mainly commuting around my residence.

But since I got my new sweet ride, a 2008 Honda Odyssey, there was no room on the driveway for my baby. It had to go. I listed it on Criag's list 3 times before i got serious inquiries. I brought the price down each time of course. That's the main reason.

I didn't take many pictures of it. But I had a co-worker do me a favor and take some sweet shots of my ride of 14 years. In all its last glory, it is presented here. The new owner will undoubtedly take care of it. I saw the car 36 hours after sale and it was already upgraded! More than I ever did for it during my 14 years of ownership.




Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jay Chou Does Magic

Originally posted on xanga.

Jay Chou appeared on a popular Taiwan variety show, 康熙来了, a couple of days ago and did quite a few magic tricks. I was impressed at the passion he had for it. It was refreshing to see this 天王 in such childish a manor.

Here's all 5 parts of the show put together for 50 minutes of fun watching.





Friday, October 24, 2008

Chinese Studies 認命

Originally posted on xanga.

I have to start studying my chinese again. My daughter is getting to that stage where we'll have to think about Chinese school soon.

In the Heights area of the Greater LA area, there are plenty to choose from. A far cry from the choices I had in the 80s. Where 2 schools dominated and prices were steep.

I still haven't figured out the pin ying and zhu ying fu hao yet. Has Taiwan converted to Pin Ying and no longer on wade giles? So, does that mean no more Hsu's, Tsao, etc?

In any case, recognizing characters is the better way to go. But its a daunting tasks as practical use of it will be 1% here in the US.

I think I am fighting a losing battle. Both for me and my daughter. There's a saying in Chinese (認命). I must accept eventually.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BOTY 2008 - Formosa

Originally posted on xanga.

BOTY 2008 just concluded over the weekend and the winner was Top 9 from Russia. What really surprised me was the 3rd place finish of the Taiwan crew Formosa.

This is the highest a crew from Taiwan has been. Its commonplace for crews from Korea and Japan to place in the top. Nice job!

Check out the youtube videos.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

周杰倫 - Jay Chou - Capricorn

Originally posted on xanga.



I picked up 周杰倫's new CD today. I've been listening to it most of the night. Its pretty amazing. Jay keeps to his strengths but always manages to explore sounds and realms. I am highly impressed.

We're fortunate to have an artist that transcends the realm of mediocrity on a regular basis. But this artist also dives into Movies as well. Jay's forays in film have been bad, good, and great. Let's just hope he keeps at it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Iron Man - The Movie - 鋼鐵人

Originally posted on xanga.



Iron Man is my favorite comic book character. I remember being very excited about the movie coming out back in May. The past few Marvel movies, I've been able to see it on the premiere night or weekend. But I was vacationing in Hawaii. So I had to settle with seeing it on its 10th day of release.

I really didn't know what to expect. The clips from youtube did reveal a lot, but there wasn't a story to piece together. I was very happy they decided against using Mandarin. I'll have to get pissed in 2 or 3 now. "Ten Rings" is a BIG sign of what's to come. Tony having a drink in his hand most of the time before his injury is also played to maximum effect. As well as his bar activities at the Walt Disney concert hall.

So, I think it was an amazing film. I want to congratulate all the parties that had its hand in creating a truly great movie.

2 weeks ago, the DVD for it came out. Its packed with some 4 hours of extras. There are a lot different type of things presented. I really liked it. Makes you want to get into the industry.

I am sad that TDK made more $$ than Iron Man. Because it would've been nice to have Iron Man as the #1. Had a nice ring for 10 weeks.




Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Legend of Bruce Lee - 李小龍傳奇 - Upcoming

Originally posted on xanga.



A 50 episode drama about the life of Bruce Lee is around the corner. You can see plenty of clips and trailers on YouTube. Called "The Legend of Bruce Lee - (李小龍傳奇)".

It covers Bruce's teenage years to his death at age 32.

Seems that they've brought in quite the non Chinese cast for the making of this drama. As Bruce spent a lot of the second half of his life in the US.

Its a drama man. The facts will be made for TV and you'll see him as an ultimate Chinese hero.

Bailout

Originally posted on xanga.

700 billion. How about giving everyone in the US a million? We'll make the economy better right away. The $$ still goes to the wealthy. And the beat goes on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fantasy Sports

Originally posted on xanga.

I've been asked to join fantasy baseball, football and basketball. It was really fun back in the 90s where we rotated weeks and entered stats in via the box scores from the LA Times. There were errors, but it was fun!

Now, with all the fantasy services out there, its pretty amazing. You really just sit back now and pick your guy.

Of course there's a science to it and some guys are better than others. A little luck comes into play because of player injuries and so forth.

But fast forward 13-14 years, I don't have any passion to play any of it anymore. The main reason is that I don't have any time to research and keep up with who's hot, who's injured, who's normally playing bad or well, etc. It's just too much to do with juggling being a responsible husband and father.

Its already super tough to being a responsible family man. Being a fantasy super star no longer suits the over the hill guy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ashes of Time and Redux - 東邪西毒

Originally posted on xanga.



Back in the 90s, I had rented the bootleg of "Ashes of Time" from a local chinese video store. At the time, I wasn't all that familiar with who directors were and mainly followed stars.

Ashes of Time had a lot of stars. It's actually based on the Greats of the Condor Heroes book by Jin Yong. But the story is simi based in reality. They're not so invincible like they are in the book. And they're physical limitation are explored and exploited.

So, having been a fan of all things Jin Yong (at least from the drama stand point, I haven't read his books), I was super confused at the story and was quite disappointed in the fighting.

After my first watch, I thought the movie was well made, but the topics explored were no relevent to me and the fighting kinda sucked.

I ended up picking it up again on VHS again in the late 90s. Man was I disappointed, it was in Cantonese. I didn't finish it. I liked chinese movies dubbed into Mandarin.

So, I haven't had a good experience with Ashes yet.

Redux is newly remastered and restored. I hear its also tweaked a little. I've seen the trailer and its in Cantonese. I'll have to wait for the Taiwan or China version to see it again.

I hear its one of Wong Kar-wai's better films. If it's anything like Chungking Express or In the Mood for Love, I will like. I just can't really remember it much.

It's playing at a handful of theathres here in greater LA area. In Irvine and on Sunset.

I have the soundtrack from the original movie and had it on quite often when I had to study for finals or mid terms.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Polydactyly

Originally posted on xanga.

I didn't know that Polydactyly was so common. Polydactyly is commonly known as having six fingers or toes.

I came about it with the recent revelation that the upcoming bond gurl Gemma Arterton is Polydactyly.

I would think having a sixth digit would get in the way of things.

Maybe palming a basketball would be easier.

Would you play tennis better?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sign of the Apocalypse

Originally posted on xanga.

Sign of the Apocalypse. Beverly Hills Chihuahua earned 29 million this weekend and ranked first!

I have a feeling that it'll be hitting #1 in HK, Korea, and Japan pretty soon.

Can I move to mars now?

The chihuahua invasion is coming.

Angels lose - Very sad

Originally posted on xanga.

Angels lose to Boston again. Guess it wasn't just Manny.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dodgers - 20 Year Drought over!

Originally posted on xanga.

Dodger blue hasn't felt this good since, well, 1988! The last year the Dodgers have won a playoff series. They will meet the Phillies next.

I can remember growing up loving everything about the dodgers. Ron Cey, Tommy Lasorda, Stever Garvery. There are so many more to mention. Orel's scoreless streak and the World Series win in 1988 against the much hyped A's.

I remember the 9th inning Home Run by Gibson like it was yesterday. It was the same kind of feeling when the Lakers came back on Portland in Game 7 of the 2000 playoffs.

I was hoping for a freeway series (both teams can technically be reached via the I-5) with the Angels. That's not looking so good now.

Go Dodgers!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Metallica - Death Magnetic

Originally posted on xanga.



I picked up Metallica's latest CD Death Magnetic this week. I had heard three or four songs from it last week on XM's Mandatory Matallica. That channel isn't on air anymore.

Growing up in the 80s, it was very hard to avoid "Heavy Metal" music. From Twisted Sister to Ratt, it was the 80s version of coming of age in terms of rebellion. Grunge and hip hop carried on that tradition in the 90s and 00s.

However, thrash metal or speed metal was like the alternative. I remember seeing the video for "One" back in the day. I promptly looked to see if my older brother had the LP of "…And Justice for All". He did and I also got really into Master of Puppets.

Part of what I like about both were the long instrumentals. The long songs that just thrashed and had a lot of aggression. I was just entering Junior High and eventually High School. The music was very appropriate for the mind set I had that time. I've since mellowed way down. If I had a number for angst of my teenage years, its negative numbers in my 30s. Well, the angst is totally different now.

With Death Magnetic, I feel that they've gotten back to some of that. I was in unusually long commutes with it on this week and a lot of it was just them thrashing. No gimmicks, no "poppy" tunes, not symphony. Just thrashing. I enjoyed it.

If you got on board Metallica with the black album, you might like this. But if you were onboard with One and Master, this is a welcome return to their mid 80s sound.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

DVD - The Special or Bonus Features

Originally posted on xanga.

DVDs, I love them. In the past few years, the special features and bonus features on DVDs are getting more and more impressive.

You'd think you're only sitting down to watch a movie right? Wrong, you spend another hour just watching all the special features.

I always like the "Makeof..." segments.

Others include the if they were are a convention, interviewing the stars.

I also end up watching a lot of the previews, especially if they are a related genre or filmmaker.

So, its more than going to the movies.

I just saw the blue-ray Iron Man release at a Best Buy in HD. Amazing. I want a HD setup now. My 14 year old 50 inch is looking like its from the 40s.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Never Back Down

Originally posted on xanga.



Just watched "Never Back Down" tonight while washing 2 nights of dishes. Sorry, I didn't clean up last night.

It was quite enjoyable. The story was a little immature, but its justifiable because the main characters are in High School still.

Stuff like this wouldn't happen in College. Unless you watch van wilder or accepted. Where "pride" and "honor" is important.

In this case, you gotta fight to stop fighting because you fought once before. Makes sense I guess, if you like to fight!

Good fighting for the most part. Reminds of the old kung fu revenge movies. Although this storyline isn't about revenge, it can play to that aspect.

I rented it, you can too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some Random Things

Originally posted on xanga.

The debate between Obama and McCain was quite troubling. As I see my 401K lose value everyday, I can't help but wonder if either of these guys can steer the ship back on course. And if these failed CEOs keep walking away with millions while we lose %s on our "nest eggs", I am throwing in the towel. What's the use of saving? You know, you say, in 30, 40 years, it'll grow. Of the 10 or so years I've been doing my 401 and IRAs, 7 of them have been down years. This sucks.

Ebay. It sucks. I look for an item on Amazon and than Ebay. Cheaper on Amazon 3 out of 4 times. The only things I order off Ebay now are Chinese movies or dramas I can't order off Amazon. Ebay continues to drop in stock value (I know, since I bought them at the wrong time and am paying the price now).

I lost a little steam with Fated to Love You. I haven't watched an episode this week. I've been re-watching the 2003 Alec Su 倚天屠龍記. Every time I watch the portion about 曾阿牛 (zeng ah niu), I get happy!

I am really forward to the new Jay Chau Album. Here's an MV from the upcoming album. Very very original.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

Originally posted on xanga.

Wow. This blows me away. Paul was an amazing man. This is a brief bio from Yahoo:
"Paul Newman was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a philanthropist, an activist, a veteran, a race car driver, a director, and, for over 50 years, one of the greatest film stars in Hollywood".

There is a great article about Paul Newman from Yahoo.

As a kid, some of my favorite movies include Paul. The Sting may have been one of my favorites. I remember always trying to catch it whenever I saw it on the TV Guide. When I got a little older, I was able to catch The Color of Money. I haven't seen the prequel, The Hustler yet.

I have been a fan of his salad dressings as well. I like them and the fact that all profits go to charity.

Paul Newman lived a great life and will be missed. Rest in Peace Paul. The world was better with you here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

Originally posted on xanga.

As guilty pleasures go, this is probably one of them. It's like watching Herc or Xena from the 90s. You do it at home, but never admit to it if asked directly.

As is the case with The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. This is the pre pre "The Rock" in the 2nd Mummy movie. The pre was The Scorpion King featuring The Rock.

It pretty fasted paced and takes you through the story quickly. Not really a time for resting.

So, if you liked the Hercules or Xena or Beastmaster or Conan TV series from the 90s. This is right up your alley.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Red Cliff Part 1 - 赤壁 - First Thoughts

Originally posted on xanga.



I just finished part 1 of John Woo's Red Cliff (赤壁). It was an intense movie with a lot of stuff going on.

Here are some thoughts:
I need to learn my Chinese history better
Lin Chi-Ling is pretty dang hot
Zhao Wei is looking like she shouldn't play early 20s rolls anymore
The Costumes are amazing
The special effects look real and fake at the same time
I can't wait to see part 2.
Too bad there's no part 3
I would want to play a video game based off this (in english, since my Chinese is useless)

Go see it. It won't blow you away, but its a good film.

Being sold for $3 in my local video rental places. Crazy cheap.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Angels - LAA

Originally posted on xanga.

I am mostly an LA sports fan. When it comes to sports, I'll cheer on LA based teams over other teams. In baseball, that's the Angels and the Dodgers. The football, UCLA and USC. The basketball, the Lakers, the Clippers, UCLA, etc.

So, I am very excited that the LA teams in baseball are all leading their divisions. The Angels have the best record in the MLB up to today and I think they can clinch it with 101 wins. They have 96 now. The Dodgers will need 5 more games to clinch a spot.

A freeway series is great for LA! Man, stadiums linked by the 5 freeway. However, the rest of the country can care less.

Ah, MLB, so many games a season. Its hard to follow it all.

Good luck to the LA teams.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

命中註定我愛你 (Destiny Love/Fated to Love You) 1st Thoughts

Originally posted on xanga.



I just started on 命中註定我愛你 a couple of days ago. I am only a couple of episodes in, but its pretty good. I like the story and hi jinx being explored.

Wth so many "idol" dramas from Taiwan, the stories can be very predictable coupled with descent to very poor acting. Sometimes, the actors are really dancers who sing and act as part of the company. It's not their fault for doing their best.

Back to the series. The main dude and gal have huge flaws and huge hearts. One minute, they are acting with a lot of emotion towards the bad. The next, acts of kindness abound.

With only a couple of episodes under my belt, I have to say that this is one of the better idol dramas. Its over the top characters and storyline keep you enthralled.

The drama received the best ratings for a drama in 2008. I can see why. While the show was being aired, it showed up regularrly on the top in views on TW Youtube. I couldn't make out all the comments, but they were some pretty intense fans.

The version I am watching isn't the best quality. It looks like a recording from TV transferred straight to DVD. Its good enough for me. Maybe I should have waited a few more months for the China or Singapore versions. I think the one I have is the HK one. the Taiwan ones are major bucks.

My guess is that it'll be shown on KSCI in the LA area at the beginning of 2009.

Friday, September 19, 2008

hooray for hollywood = lack of asian

Originally posted on xanga.

So, I wrote a blog post about White TV a few months ago. After reading it. I really let hollywood off the hook.

We'll be seeing plenty of Asians in movies and tv series this fall. However, less than a handful will have any meaningful or speaking parts.

A recent YouTube video really brought things back into prospective for me.

I've always had trouble with the white guy saving the [Insert Asian culture here]. From Last Samurai, Rambo 4, and the most recent Forbidden Kingdom. It sorta like slap in the face. 21 was blatant in that it was based off a true story about asians, but the leads were made non asian.

Check out the video:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom - 功夫之王

Originally posted on xanga.



The Forbidden Kingdom (功夫之王) stars Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Li Bing Bing, Collin Chou, and Liu "Cyrstal" Yi Fei.  The story takes some of the concepts and characters from "The Journey West". Specifically, the Monkey King.



The Forbidden Kingdom stars Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Li Bing Bing, Collin Chou, and Liu "Cyrstal" Yi Fei. The story takes some of the concepts and characters from "The Journey West". Specifically, the Monkey King.



There is actually a lot of action in this film and features a lengthy dual between Jet Li and Jackie Chan. The main protagonist is a white guy from South Boston getting sucked into Ancient China. After seeing the "making of" on the DVD, I can see how the movie was sold to a studio to fund. Its the white guys saving the Chinese. Since they can't save themselves. I digress.



The special effects are a little above average as a lot of it sorta looked fake. But overall, the fighting was quite good.

As for the storyline, you'll have to get over it. It's not that great. But the movie is beautifully shot. Uses lush landscapes and it shot entirely in China.

I hope a sequel comes of this. I'd like them to take more chances the next time around. But it'll still be geared towards an American audience.

I know that Crystal Liu had spent some of her pre teen years in New York. Seems that she never completely mastered it as she has a "FOB" accent. I don't know if it is on purpose due to the style of the film, all the Asian ppl that speak Mandarin, have a slight accent. Like Li Bing Bing and the supreme emperor seemed to have dubbed voices. Crystal can be a cross over star if she's willing to sacrifice projects in China in order to spend time in the US. Who knows. I hope she does stay mainly in China as production there is faster and you would see more of her vs. in the US, where productions take a long time and seeing her on screen is alot less.

As for Jet Li and Jackie Chan, they seemed to play off each other and I hope for more of this in the future.

I'll try to get a hold of the DVD when I see it in the 4.99 and under bins.

The movie pay homage to the Shaw Bro movies in a quite a few ways. The opening credits takes you through a bunch of the Shaw Bros artwork from the 60s/70s. Crystal Liu says "Come Drink With Me" in one of the fight scenes. Makes no sense. Its just an homage including the name Golden Sparrow.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Knot (雲水謠/云水谣)

Originally posted on xanga.



I finally finished The Knot (雲水謠/云水谣) today. I had been trying to watch the movie with my wife on and off for like a year now. I finally stopped waiting and finished the last 75%.

The movie stars Aloys Chen (Chen Kun), Vivian Hsu, Li Bing Bing, and Isabella Leong.

The movie starts in what appears to be New York and than jumps to a few other places. Some of the places are Taipei, Shanghai, and Tibet. There are quite a few more, but I wasn't paying all that much attention when they moved around a lot during the war segments.

Maybe because I didn't watch the whole movie at once, I didn't feel the connection between the main characters. I didn't get the point of the film in its entirety. The movie was "epic" in that it spans many years and the main storyline spanned 15 or so years.

Love is born. Love is forced to separate. Love is forced to wait. Is Love patient enough to let your life go to waste?

I've always wondered how these stories go. The Love that is born is in mere moments, but the wait is so long. So long that it is forced to die or leads to a life of confinement.

I guess if these types stories are based on true events, I feel very sorry for the parties involved. The agony of waiting and waiting. Is it the right choice? Should you just move on? What's the threshold?

I am a fan and Vivian Hsu and Li Bing Bing. I was hoping for more of the story to develop for Vivian Hsu, but it didn't happen.

I also noticed some veteran Taiwanese actors during the Taiwan segments.

All in all, I would recommend this. The production value was very high and the acting was very nice. However, the story is a little suspect and leaves you wondering. And not in a good way.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lenka

Originally posted on xanga.



I happened on Lenka around the end of July on KCRW. I heard "We Will Not Grow Old" and was blown away. I had to wait a few days before the song listings were displayed. Once I found out, I wanted to purchase stuff. I found out that an Album is dropping on September 23rd. This doesn't always occur to me, but I also found her page on Facebook and became fan #141.

Lenka's "The Show" was recently featured as the iTunes download of the week. I think I missed her on the late nite shows.

Lenka Kripac was also featured on the a couple Decoder Ring songs for the Somersault Soundtrack.

I highly recommend Lenka if you're into the non idol type female voices with a alternative pop sensibility. I can't really describe it. You check her out yourself. In today's internet age, artist music videos are just one website away. Is there really a need for me to descibe it when you can hear her yourself?

Lenka's Website
Lenka's MySpace
Lenka's YouTube