Taiwan, Second Day

We spent our first real day in Taipei like we usually do: all getting our hair done by Emi, who has her own salon near Chungzhang Middle School (a stop on the MRT line). Lynn and Jessica got slightly new styles, Mike got a trim (his hair’s shot to start with) and I got my finally cut down to a nice short style. Emi has a way of making the two or three things that are possible to do with my hair look brand new.
We had our breakfast there too, brought from one of the thousands of stalls in the streets here: dan-bing with some hot milk tea on the side.
After the hair business which took up the whole morning, lunch was jiro-fan (shredded chicken over rice) from a place across the street. Weather changed during the day until it was very rainy and windy. Yet it was still slightly humid. To the Taiwanese, this is winter, so these people who live in 90 degree/90 percent humidity during the summer months, are wrapped up in thick coats. Mike and I are content with a t-shirt during the day and a light coat at night.
We made our way to Hsimen, one of the large shopping areas, and I have to say I’m kinda disappointed that, two years after my last visit, DVD hasn’t really took off as a format here. I don’t know the exact reasons, but VCD takes up quite a lot of shelf space. Apart from the usual Hollywood rubbish, there’s very little Chinese cinema available in anything other than dodgy looking cheapo versions. That is, except for the Shaw Brothers releases, and I have no idea where to start with those. More on this later–maybe I’m looking in the wrong area.
We met up later with all the sisters and were taken to a Thai restaurant called Patara. This was as empty as customers as one of those restaurants they visit on the “Blind Date” TV show, although it was decorated nicely. Food was so-so, and I’m sure it cost a lot as anything in Taiwan that doesn’t open onto the street does.
I was so exhausted with jet lag, that once we got back home I passed out around 9.
Among many dreams that I had was one in which I saw Ernest Borgnine, and debated getting his autograph.
Photos when I get the chance to find a “quiet time” to upload them.

Welcome to Taiwan!

Photos later folks, my cables are packed away in a case. Flight over was marked by heavy turbulence all the way through my viewing of Will Ferrel’s “Anchorman” film, and from the drunk Vietnamese man sitting behind me who randomly burst into song every 30 mins. At one point he was singing Guantanamera.
We (me, the missus, Jessica’s sister Lynn, and her hubbie Mike) are currently staying in the Taipei apartment of their other three sisters: Emi (hair designer), Berry (graphic designer), and Mei Mei (clothes designer). All designers, eh? Don’t ask me what my wife designs…
We just returned from our first trip outside (at 10 p.m. on a Sunday), which was to the Tong-Hua night market where I had some stinky tofu and some boba tea. Ahh yeah. You don’t see this business in most of America on a Sunday night.
Posters for The Incredibles are everywhere (as are their McDonalds tie-in), and I just saw my first poster for Stephen Chow’s latest film, “Kung Fu Hustle.” This isn’t out yet, I wonder if it’ll be out before we leave. Because I ain’t waiting two bloody years again for Mirahax to release a “version”.

In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan


When I was in the 5th Year (the equivalent of 10th grade in the States),
I had a most excellent English teacher called Mr. Arbon. Our class was a bit above the usual, personally selected in the 4th for “advanced studies” and so were only about 15 in total. Twice during the year, Mr. Arbon would assign a book report, and choose individual books for all of us. The first time I was given Catcher in the Rye and the second time it was Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. Imagine writing a book report on that–I was too busy picking up bits of my blown mind to really write a report of any coherence, though I did respond by writing my own Brautigan-inspired short stories. Mr. Arbon then lent me all the other Brautigan books he owned, which was nearly all of them, but not quite.
In Watermelon Sugar was one of the missing, and I only read it recently. It’s a thin book, just over 100 pages, and took me most of a day to read. How does Brautigan fare now? Well, I like him just fine, actually.
The story of “In Watermelon Sugar” describes a writer living in a sort of “new Eden”-like commune, a town called Watermelon Sugar, which also processes watermelons for all sorts of fantastical things. There is the main gathering place, called iDeath, and a villain of sorts, inBOIL, who represents the old ways. It’s a novel of dualities–Watermelon Sugar is both a place and a thing; the location is both wilderness and city; it is finite and infinite. There are two women the writer gets involved with, one who goes astray and one who doesn’t. There is a joy of life about the inhabitants, but death is a constant presence.
Brautigan’s style is at times close to Japanese haiku in its economy of language and the jumps it makes line to line.
Over time Brautigan came to symbolize the hippy movement to many, and the idyllic nature of this novel suggests why–a glimpse of a downhome utopia threaded through with a gentle surrealism borne of the American forest. It’s sort of my spiritual home.
By the way, there’s a much better essay on the novel, which unearths its Christian mythos over at the Brautigan archive. There’s also a more recent musing on the name of iDeath in an era of iPods and iMacs. Finally, here’s a sample of the first few pages.

A different sort of m/m personal

From Craigslist, where else?

Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight – m4m
Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004
I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.
it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

In the Eyes of the World

What are we becoming? I always stop by Riverbend’s blog, as you may know. It’s not a thorough analysis of the Iraq situation, but the view of this one resident of Baghdad–a young lady, likes Radiohead, watches soap operas as a guilty pleasure, you know a reall person–is worth any number of inane U.S.-based analysists. And this is how our little televised war crime is going down over there.

American Heroes
I’m feeling sick- literally. I can’t get the video Al-Jazeera played out of my head:
The mosque strewn with bodies of Iraqis- not still with prayer or meditation, but prostrate with death- Some seemingly bloated? an old man with a younger one leaning upon him? legs, feet, hands, blood everywhere? The dusty sun filtering in through the windows? the stillness of the horrid place. Then the stillness is broken- in walk some marines, guns pointed at the bodies… the mosque resonates with harsh American voices arguing over a body- was he dead, was he alive? I watched, tense, wondering what they would do- I expected the usual Marines treatment- that a heavy, booted foot would kick the man perhaps to see if he groaned. But it didn’t work that way- the crack of gunfire suddenly explodes in the mosque as the Marine fires at the seemingly dead man and then come the words, ‘He’s dead now.’
‘He’s dead now.’ He said it calmly, matter-of-factly, in a sort of sing-song voice that made my blood run cold? and the Marines around him didn’t care. They just roamed around the mosque and began to drag around the corpses because, apparently, this was nothing to them. This was probably a commonplace incident.
We sat, horrified, stunned with the horror of the scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. It’s the third day of Eid and we were finally able to gather as a family- a cousin, his wife and their two daughters, two aunts, and an elderly uncle. E. and my cousin had been standing in line for two days to get fuel so we could go visit the elderly uncle on the final day of a very desolate Eid. The room was silent at the end of the scene, with only the voice of the news anchor and the sobs of my aunt. My little cousin flinched and dropped her spoon, face frozen with shock, eyes wide with disbelief, glued to the television screen, “Is he dead? Did they kill him?” I swallowed hard, trying to gulp away the lump lodged in my throat and watched as my cousin buried his face in his hands, ashamed to look at his daughter.