Monthly Archives: July 2008

I like to be well dressed, but…

Women’s Wear Daily reports:

Ports 1961 has struck a deal with NBC Universal to dress four female commentators for NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and USA Network during the Games, which take place Aug. 8 to 24.

So I know that Ports only has a womenswear division, but isn’t it, hmm, weird that only the female commentators are supposed to be that well dressed? Where’s the menswear designer outfitting all the male commentators?

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my review of Red Cliff:

Good.

  • Action scenes are many and some times overly long.
  • Some of the battle formations are well-loved Chinese tales. They may seem very weird to those not familiar with the stories.
  • Many historical inaccuracies, as reported by movie critics.
  • The one historical inaccuracy I noted was that in the film, Zhu Ge Liang is younger than Zhou Yu. But since the actor who plays Zhu Ge Liang is none other than the handsome Takeshi Kaneshiro, who has just broken a barrier in the fashion industry, I do not mind! Plus, Zhu Ge Liang is my favorite character from the whole Three Kingdoms stories anyway.
  • The Chinese government wanted Red Cliff to be a showcase of Chinese culture, and a showcase of Chinese culture it is. At times it seems a bit ridiculous – the characters cycle through Chinese calligraphy, painting, music (with qin and flute), courtesans, sports, all with John Woo’s signature slo-mo shots. and even some weird freeze shots in the music playing scenes.
  • The sex scene(s) go on really long for a Chinese film. and they’re pretty explicit. But I thought it was tasteful.
  • A lot of doves, as per John Woo-directing methodology. Actually they’re pigeons, but they look like doves.
  • Two main female characters – Xiao Qiao and Sun Shangxiang. Xiao Qiao is the wife of Zhou Yu (she’s the only fictional character with a major role in the film) and Sun Shangxiang is the princess of the Wu kingdom family (little sister of Sun Quan). They don’t see each other so they don’t speak to each other. Thus the film doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.
  • Xiao Qiao follows the traditional “good wife” role. She likes animals. She’s caring. She’s not incompetent though. She successfully bandages Zhou Yu when he is injured (big whoop). Then it’s implied that they have sex. Actually, she’s really not incompetent, despite the sarcastic tone before. she just doesn’t have good speaking lines and no good actions.
  • Sun Shangxiang is a tomboy. She is playful, smart, able to keep up with her brothers. She’s clever. She plays a crucial role in the last battle of the movie. She has a bunch of warrior maids who follow her around. When her brother tries to arrange a marriage for her, she exits the room while all the other males laugh and dismiss her (but not after she pulls a pretty kick-ass move). However, Zhu Ge Liang follows her and is the only person who accepts her as she is. (And as one of the starring roles, gives her validation.)
  • Even in China, there are Chinese subtitles above English subtitles. I liked the translations.
  • The battles look pretty good because all the people are real people. However, some of the extras weren’t in character. Sometimes it looked like a History Channel re-enactment. Except with way better makeup and costumes and all that jazz.
  • Really amazing scenery.
  • Special effects were pretty good. Some of the panoramic shots were noticeably created with special effects, but it wasn’t laughable or bothersome. I thought the whole special effects portion of the movie was really well done.
  • Cao Cao gets another motivation for conquering southern China – he wants Xiao Qiao. I don’t think this is historically accurate. Aaand I’m not quite sure what to think about this. Another romance thread for the story? Not in my book. He wants to own her, not love her. Besides, she and Zhou Yu love each other already, in the movie.
I watched the first half of the movie, which came out a couple days ago in Eastern Asia. In the U.S., a shortened (by 90 minutes) 2 1/2 hour release is currently scheduled for January.
The first half ends right before the actual battle at Red Cliff, the famous naval battle. There’s a brief shot of Cao Cao’s land-based forces getting sick on the ships, followed (not immediately) by a nice shot of Zhu Ge Liang setting fire to model ships, again foreshadowing the events of the battle.

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at the Hong Kong airport (my total travel time is just shy of 48 hours).

It’s refreshing to finally be in a place where my height is considered average, for once. Except for the stray Caucasian visitor, of course. But then I realized that everywhere I turned, the advertisements seemed to place me in New York City, not Hong Kong. They feature white models. Of course, I thought at first, all these brands are European. Why would they change their ad campaigns from continent to continent if ad campaigns are such an iconic part of a brand? But then I passed a whitening lotion advertisement, whose model was still white (despite the fact that white people generally don’t want to whiten their skin and these products are nonexistent in the Western world) and then I ran out of excuses.

It was interesting to note that one brand kept their black model.

Also, I almost missed Vogue Nippon in a bookstore because they segregate by culture – Western and Eastern (basically: English and Chinese, Korean, and Japanese). I just looked in the fashion magazine part of the bookstore – too bad I gravitated towards the English side of the store first. Silly me.

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it’s “it’s,” not “its”

sorry, Google:

Although as a reflection of society – more people must enter in “its” to cause Google to attempt to fix my “it’s” – I’m not sure whether this indicates that Google users have bad grammar or whether Google users are just extraordinarily lazy and don’t want to type that extra apostrophe. Probably both.

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substitutions aren’t necessarily a good thing.

I was reading old blog posts from Greg Mankiw when I stumbled on this one:

Todd D. Kendall, an economist at Clemson University, reports that more pornography leads to less rape:

The arrival of the internet caused a large decline in both the pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs of accessing pornography. Using state-level panel data from 1998-2003, I find that the arrival of the internet was associated with a reduction in rape incidence.

I’ve previously seen that report, back in my first fumbling forrays into feminism. Of course, Mankiw is far from a shining example of a feminist, even if he did go watch the Sex and the City movie with his wife.

Too bad rape and pornography aren’t about lust for sex but about lust for power. And in the case of those two behaviors, one is more culturally accepted than the other. So people with a little morality recognize that one is a little better than the other, as rape manifests itself in violence and psychological damage, while pornography can narrow this damage down to a select group of people (the actors/actresses).

In any case, while eliminating rape is a priority for feminism, I doubt any feminist would consider that goal as the end-all, that’s-it-we’re-done. I’d rather establish equality between genders. Too bad it’s impossible when porn consumers are still operating under Let’s-Uphold-the-Patriarchy through porn usage instead of rape.

Note: I understand that plenty of people have written about this before but I am too lazy to look up links.

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fugues aren’t just for music.

Death Fugue

Paul Celan, translated from German by Michael Hamburger

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink and we drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink in the morning at noon we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you others sing now and play
he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his eyes are blue
jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air
he plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith

The originial German here.

I love how Margarete and Shulamith are the cadence. And the different “voices” – ahhh beautifully done in a powerful poem. thank you to André Aciman for an introduction to Celan!

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I just made up a simple rule-of-thumb.

It addresses the truth that women’s bodies are held to be within the public domain: Guys, if what you do to a female would be construed as “gay” if done to a male, it’s not appropriate. And the same holds true for gals going through the same motions.

Note: I am not endorsing homophobia in any way.

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