水曜日, 12月 07, 2005

The Paper

Life being eaten up by the Paper. Even my dad has pitched in on doing research for the Paper. He's been sending me links to original sources from across the Pacific. At least it distracts him from building the house he says he's going to build on our family land--a mid-life crisis, no doubt. (My friend Daniel quipped: "Under the Taiwanese Sun.")

土曜日, 12月 03, 2005

I was going to fill the page with some funny stories from summer, some random attempts at translation, but then I dropped by Jaquandor's place.

Having drifted away of from blog-reading during Thanksgiving break, I didn't read of the sorrowful news until last night. It was a shock to learn that his son had died. Little Quinn's slow journey had been an inspiration--and because it was easy to take it as such, you subconsciously expected that happy ending for all uplifting stories. It was not to be. Yet, even now, Jaquandor's words teach us what is sorrow and what is love:
The viewing itself was a pretty surreal affair. One of our concerns was that Little Quinn wouldn't look "right", not because he's dead but because when he was sleeping, his cerebral palsy resulted in him sleeping in fairly specific positions: his big tendency was to turn his head slightly to the right, and his mouth would take on this "crooked" little frown-thing. But somehow, the funeral people got that exactly right, and for quite a while last night I expected him to just suddenly stretch, like he often did while napping. Alas.
And
He was fifteen months old, and he had only just started to find his voice, to reach for things that caught his eye, to lift his head and to hold my gaze. He was only starting to know our touch. He was only starting to know us...and then he was gone. And after forty-one days in the hospital when he was born, and nine more this summer when he had bronchitis, after being intubated so many times and after having two surgeries...for him to leave us as he did, in the shortest of moments and so quietly, has made me wonder if he was ever here at all. I sometimes wonder if we ever had a son, if Haley ever had a brother, or if it was all some dream that lasted too long and yet ended too soon.But he was here. He was here, and he taught us more about what matters in life than we could have learned if we could somehow read all of the words of wisdom written in all the books in all the world. He taught us strength; he taught us which battles to fight; he taught us that, having chosen our battles, we should never yield in fighting them; he taught us true fear and true hope, true despair and true light, true anger and the truest love we have ever known.And he did all that in fifteen months.How strange it is that I, having spent all of my life in the company of teachers, would learn the most from this little baby who spent both too long and too short a time trapped in a body he could never quite bend to his will.

木曜日, 12月 01, 2005

Not Dead Yet

Reviving this blog. Will be posting random things from the private journal to take up space. :)

月曜日, 7月 25, 2005

Conversations in Biology...

Me: (picking a french fry off the ground and eating it) Five-second rule.

Robin: Scientists have actually shown that it doesn't exist.

Me: Er...I have faith that the ecosystem in my mouth is resilient enough to resist invasive species from the floor.

水曜日, 6月 15, 2005

Batman Begins

Thanks to the timezone difference, my brother and I got to see Batman Begins right after it premiered in Taiwan (at...er...noon.) It helped that HBO was rerunning Batman Forever--I grew up with that movie and never realized how bad it was. Our family also watched Equilibrium on cable last Sunday for Christian Bale in full badass mode. We went into the theater feeling like we'd done our homework.

Short review: Batman's psycho. But he's our psycho.

Longer review:

*SPOILERS*


Christian Bale is such a better Batman than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney that I wish Warner Bros. would either CGI him into the old movies (bring in George Lucas) or erase them from our collective memory. I especially liked how he switched back and forth from protector-of-Gotham mode to billionaire playboy. The Bat voice, which sounded strange in the trailers, worked. Bale is always great in badass mode, and it even comes through when he's in costume. To be more accurate, he's Batman with and without the suit. As most of the movie implies (and love interest Rachel has to obviously state) Bruce Wayne is the mask.

I'm not all that familiar with Batman lore, but the origins of the suit, car, cowl (Made in China!! Even Batman outsources!), cave, and signal all seemed logical and rather clever. If the fights were well-choreographed, I couldn't tell. All those quick cuts did a good job making the audience feel as disoriented as Batman's prey. It's strange, but the chase scene actually seemed a bit slow to me. The Batmobile was a powerful car, but it didn't feel like a fast one.

Alfred (Caine) and Lucius Fox (Freeman) are great mentors for young Wayne. In fact, the humor in their scenes with the young superhero worked better than the action sequences. (Favorite throwaway line: "Spelunking.") Detective Gordon (Oldman) has that weary family man air and gets his turn behind the wheel. Wayne's childhood friend Rachel was actually a likeable character. I thought I'd be annoyed by Katie Holmes, but I wasn't.

Yes, there is a twist two-thirds of the way through. No, I didn't see it coming. In retrospect, it was pretty inevitable, but quite clever. However, bringing ninjas into it just smacked too much of Eastern fetishism. Come on, the League of Shadows were supposed to have helped sack Rome. Japan was far from a developed civilization back then. Even had this League existed, it'd be far more concerned with the fates of the Chinese Empire in capitals Changan and Loyang than Rome and Constantinople. This Western focus under an Oriental veneer is quite disappointing.

In the end...well, let's say that Batman still has a future with Catwoman. The rule of the chaste superhero as established by Spiderman still holds. It makes sense, since Rachel is in love with Bruce Wayne, not Batman. In other words, there's an opening for a new love interest in the sequel.

In fact, this is one of the few movies for which I walked out of the theater wanting a sequel. (Star Wars doesn't count. I want to die smiling after the midnight showing of Episode MCXXXVIII.) Not because it's perfect--more because Batman is just finding his groove at the end of the movie, and we want MOOOOORRE! /Anakin

Random stuff:

Halfway through the first full fight with Bale in the suit, I turned to my brother: "My god, he really is a psycho."

When Batman pulled of the cowl in a moment of dramatic silence, my brother started doing the Vader breathing.

The music was serviceable, but no John Williams.

Nice to see the "I'm noctournal" excuse doesn't work with Alfred either. Even Bruce Wayne is automatically kicked out of bed at 3 pm.

水曜日, 5月 25, 2005

John Williams Heaven

The Boston Pops is featuring a tribute to John Williams this week under its "Hurray for Hollywood" series. Traditionally, John Williams himself conducts the music. This year, alas, he is too busy writing the score to War of the Worlds. (*shakes fist at Spielberg, Cruise*)

Tonight was "opening night." I arrived twenty minutes late to a packed symphony hall. The usher groaned when he saw my ticket--my seat was at the left-most corner on the second balcony. It was a struggle to get past everyone without causing a commotion, but oh was it worth it. I was right over the orchestra--if I leaned forward too much, my glasses would knock out the harpist. Fortunately, the Williams tribute was the second half--I considered the remaining 'Chaplin' piece a bonus track.

I'm not really an acoustics gal (not a musician. Just a tone deaf fan) so being at the sidelines didn't bother me. What I love watching is the interplay between musicians, trying to guess exactly which of the French horns is going next, the overwhelming beauty when the entire string section melts like pure chocolate.

The conductor would turn around, give a short intro, then play us a clip from an interview with John Williams on that piece:

In the beginning, there was Star Wars. I probably have the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack memorized, but have never seen the music played live. It is the piece I want played at my wedding. (And the Force theme at my funeral.) I will always be in love with that music.

A Harry Potter sequence.

Jaws. The interview clip shows two fingers playing that ominous theme, followed by maniacal laughter. And the camera pulls back to show us Williams hunched over the piano, a wild look in his eye. Oh, Lord. But I do have an appreciation now for what Williams called that feeling "in the gut." It really is that sound of the bow on the string that completes the sound of that theme.

Schindler's List. The violin solo had me tearing up. That movie was just devastating.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And then the closing scene for E.T. Williams can do grandeur, pathos, tragedy...but what he also excels at is wonder. And the final piece for E.T. is just one long bike ride down the mottled path, wind and laughter raking through your hair.

We gave the orchestra a standing ovation, of course. And the conductor returned for the encore and said, "We have connections to the top"--so here is the score for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and we'll perform "Battle of the Heroes. The movie opened last weekend, and we are probably the first orchestra in the country to perform this live.'

We younglings on the balcony (and a lot of us were kids still in high school) gasped and went wild.

I'll leave a review of the piece to Jaquandor. My heart pounded with the beat. My only regret is that the record stores are already closed, so I can't go home and buy the soundtrack NOW.

Another round of applause, and half standing ovation. So the conductor returns, flushed, and launches in the Cantina Theme. You could feel the energy in the audience shoot to new heights. I was just geeked out to see the percussionist doing all those cool sounds in the back.

A final standing ovation from the first row persuades the conductor to give us the theme from Indiana Jones. We marched out the symphony hall into the cold rain, but our grins were warm.

土曜日, 5月 21, 2005

Been back at TheForce.Net. It's odd when forumites growl at the " '05 " and post things like, "You're an '01. Honestly, have people ever been respectful of each others' opinions here?" I never realized what a nerd I've been until I checked and discovered I was a '99. Yikes.

Second Viewing

Yes, I went to watch Episode III twice in less than 24 hours. (Because my papers were kicking my ass, and I needed Star Wars to keep me sane.) Please don't tell my parents.When we left the theater the first time, I literally started shaking. It was a bit crisp at 3 a.m., but I was mostly shaking from all that adrenaline. This time, I felt pretty calm through most of the movie and even wondered if the magic was diluted.But then the Duel began. And some time during it, my heart started pounding in time with the music. I could only sit back and enjoy the best heart attack of my life.:D


It was another sold-out showing, with applause at the end. I enjoyed the second time even more, because the scenes no longer moved too fast and I was able to spot all the little things as Lucas brought us back to the atmosphere of ANH. I sat next to a couple--before the theater darkened, the girl was expressing her disappointment with the prequels. But she gasped when Anakin killed Dooku and clutched her boyfriend once Anakin began to turn. Nothing can replicate the feeling of the midnight showing, but watching her become so involved in the movie was a good substitute.

Revenge of the Sith

[I watched it midnight Wednesday and rushed back to gush all over the livejournal. My original idea was to produce something more coherent for the blog--but decided to let it stand. Reposted from there:]

*SPOILERS* (And if you haven't seen the movie yet, I will hit you.)

It was an embarassment of riches. From the first moment Anakin and Obi-Wan's fighters slipped over the side of a cruiser...and we saw the entire freakin' battle. The first time R2D2 zaps one of those wasp-like robots...the lightsaber fight with Dooku...Anakin and Obi-Wan being friends, BROTHERS, often voicing their trust and faith in each other. Anakin knowing what he's doing is wrong--but still hearing Palpatine's voice. Anakin is so much like MacBeth: commits an unforgivable crime in one moment of weakness, then trapped into it. Yet, even as Darth Vader, he sheds tears.

So packed. I got there almost two hours early, and walked into a three-fourths full theater. Managed, somehow, to get an aisle seat with NO ONE in front of me. Must be the good karma kicking in. And apparently, I'd missed out on the line that stretched two blocks up the street. By the time the trailers started, every seat was taken.

So much happening. Every important scene had its ten minutes. And what full ten minutes. But I justed watched Return of the Jedi last night, and did you know they took half an hour to rescue Han from Jabba? My god, in half an hour....Episode III took twice the story of Return of the King, and compressed into half that time. Good god.I went in mostly unspoiled. And was overwhelmed.

Before I forget. Applause points:

--The one worthy trailer: Batman Begins. Applause began with the first sight of the bats. That will be the other hit of the summer. Some catcalls for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Nothing really for Cruise in War of the Worlds.

Then:

--The silent hush (even though the theatre lights still weren't off >_< ) as the words "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."

--And then the yellow words appeared on the screen. And we went wild.

--The first time R2D2 zaps those robot thingys.

--Obi-Wan and Anakin's crash landing into the docking bay: And even before the hatch fully opens Obi-Wan is out and swinging the good old lightsaber.

--Laughter as R2D2 has to deal with an inopportune call from Obi-Wan.-

-Applause when R2D2 figures out an creative way to extricate himself (hint: the squid tactic)

--Laughter (esp. from some sheepish male members in the audience) when Anakin sort of has to refocus on what Padme is actually saying (instead of staring at her) with the general "I love you more."

--Obi-Wan vs. Grievous.

--When Yoda figured out Order 66, and busted out the lightsaber.

--Laughter and "Awwww" when Chewbacca offered Yoda his arm and Yoda clambered on to his shoulder.

--Yoda dropping two Imperial Guards, just like that. (Okay, it was pretty obvious that Yoda was the favorite of the evening.)

--And then there was little to applaud. Because we were all dead silent (even the two eight year-old boys who'd talked excitedly through the 2+ hr. wait. They never said a word during the entire movie), entranced. And the Duel. Obi-Wan's "I loved you." The Birth of Vader. Padme's last words. Tantiv IV. Laughter at "And wipe the protocol droid's memory". The final sunset. God, so much happened, I'm having a hard time keeping track of it.

Other moments I loved:--How Anakin won't leave Obi-Wan behind. Not while they fly their way through the battle. Not while Obi-Wan is passed out from Dooku's throw.

--Obi-Wan's "Wait a minute, we are smarter than this..."God, the humor's so corny and REAL in this one. Many groan-worthy lines, but the spirit is there.

Okay, okay, enough gushing.Was it a perfect movie? Dunno about the critics. But it was the one I wanted to see. And even at the end, I was in shock, in denial. It can't end like this! I knew I wanted Vader to be born, but not at the expense of Anakin!

Yes, Anakin's fall IS a tragedy.And Episode III is marvelous.

Thank you, George Lucas.