Friday, June 30, 2006

A wooden house needs periodic repainting. The painters began their work yesterday. They came early in the morning (8 is early in the morning for me) and worked all morning. I cooked them lunch; they assured me that my cooking is fine and that they ate their full. They worked all afternoon and left around 5, having done a good day's work.

Same this morning. At 11:40, while the rice was cooking and I was talking on the phone to Ling, they snuck out the back way and removed themselves to a restaurant for a long lunch. They did not return to the job until the danger of my cuisine was past.

Maybe they don't like bitter melon with mountain pepper?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bush is so cute. From the news:
President Bush on Monday sharply condemned the disclosure of a program to secretly monitor the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. "The disclosure of this program is disgraceful," he said.
"For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America," Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program "makes it harder to win this war on terror."

See, it's ok for Rove to name CIA agents, that doesn't matter in the war on terror~~

Bush signs laws with one hand and contravenesthose very laws with the other, and has challenged more than 750 statutes passed by Congress, far more than any other president. The White House does not dispute that number. It's the War on Terror, see? That's why we absolutely have to drill for oil in the arctic, and if you don't agree, you must hate America and want the terrorists to win.

On another front, customs official found Our Hero Rush Limbaugh with a bunch of Viagra that was not in his name. Maybe it was for the White House? Also part of the War on Terror. But at least Limbaugh is not using Viagra in same sex marriages while he burns a flag, so he's an A-OK All American Patriot.

What? You think poor children should be educated properly? You must be trying to make it harder to win this war on terror. You think air quality is important? You must be trying to make it harder to win this war on terror. You think global warming is real? You must be trying to make it harder to win this war on terror. You THINK?? You must be trying to make it harder to win this war on terror.

What a wonderful catchall!


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

As part of my ongoing endeavor to raise all readers' hackles equally, regardless of age, blood type, tribal affiliation (Tayal excepted; you Circassians can go suck lemons*),income bracket, or color of cufflinks, today I will discuss same sex marriage. O how nice, I can hear outraged screams already, this is going to be a real popular piece.

What's the fuss? One third of Americans don't have health insurance and the White House is trying to pass a Constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage? Our bravest and best are getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration is rotten with corruption, spies on Americans, and tortures prisoners, global warming may well doom the human race, the incarceration rate under Bush is higher than it was under Stalin, how important is same sex marriage? That, I believe is the point. There are so many problems Bush is working to create and maintain, he wants the public out of his hair. While he tramples on the Constitution, he points and says, “LOOK! There are two homosexuals trying to undermine the sacred institution of marriage! We must mobilize!” 障眼法.

That's almost as stupid as amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning. I would never burn a flag contemptuously, but I also feel that there are a lot more pressing problems that should be dealt with first. Strengthen the country: why are so many Blacks and Latinos on a treadmill to jail? why are there so many homeless people? why are so many Americans obese? why is American education such a joke? why is there so much drug use and alcoholism in the US? why has American foreign policy almost never succeeded since the country was founded? why does America pollute so much? why doesn't tax reform benefit the majority? why don't Americans have secure retirement plans? The list goes on and on. Make the country strong from the inside, and nobody will want to burn the flag anyway. A Constitutional Amendment against flag burning makes as much sense as passing a law saying that heavy smokers are not to get cancer.

If the institution of marriage were in tune with the needs of society, it would not need protection.

In this day and age, even normal people can't hold a marriage together, why not give homosexuals a go at it?

Where did all these homosexuals come from, anyway? (Get ready to howl and punch your computer screen.) Of course a lot have been there all along, hidden back in the closet, but their numbers seem to have increased. I think it has to do with all the hormones they pump into meat animals to force them to grow quicker. Then the cow or chicken or whatever gets the ax before it works all those drugs out of its system and the hormone goes straight into your jolly consumer, where dog knows what it does to the consumer's physiology.

None of the vegetarians I know are homosexual. Rather, the people I know who are most vehemently or derisively opposed to vegetarianism are homosexuals.

So maybe it does have something to do with what you eat. But no matter what, I don't think a Constitutional amendment is going to do anybody any good. If anything, people will use civil onions or other means to engage in same sex marriage under a different name. I still think it's just Bush's ploy to distract people from his wrongdoings.

Let's be realistic, how much of a deterrent would a constitutional amendment be? It may even turn out to be an incentive, you know, the thrill of being defiant and perverse. They want to get married, let them get married. Let them have a go at it. See how they like it.

That may be the way: like Christians. If you don't want Christians in your country, the worst, absolutely the worst thing you can do is persecute them. They thrive on persecution, it makes them feel holy and righteous so they really dig in their heels. How many Western European countries persecute Christians? None. And how is Christianity faring in Western Europe? Moribund. Look at all the fanatic Christians Communist oppression fostered in Eastern Europe.

Maybe it's the same for homosexuals. Prohibit them from marrying and it's till death do us part. Legalize it, take all the fun out of it. Ok, you two are bound together in legal matrimony, you're STUCK ha ha ha! That might be the best way to break up homosexual couples, if that's what you're after.

However, some people might object on the grounds that matrimonial bonds are cruel and unusual punishment, and thereby should be forbidden by a closer reading of the Constitution.
*written with full knowledge that the chances of a Circassian actually reading this are more remote than the outskirts of Mustang, Tibet, and if any do, well, of course ha ha ha we all know what a great sense of humor you guys have. Right? Right? Please put down that Kalashnikov.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

an innocent question
The LA Times Book Review recommends The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk; translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely.

Could we say that book is freely translated?

Monday, June 26, 2006

I have noticed that when I have spent several days at home without going on a road, the first car I encounter I can smell from about 20 paces away. Let me tell you, it's not a nice smell.

This brings to mind Lost in the Taiga, the story of a family of Old Believers who lived for decades hidden away in the remotest mountains of Siberia, where their children grew to adulthood without ever having seen outsiders. In her 40s, the daughter Agafia visited relatives in an inaccessible village deep in another pocket of the Siberian forest. She did not like the awful stench, and covered her nose with a handkerchief, complaining, "An automobile went through this morning – there is the smell of gasoline." One car for miles around, and she still couldn't stand the smell in the late afternoon.

What about city dwellers, who are surrounded by hundreds, even thousands, of cars all day long, day after day, year after year?久入鮑魚之肆,不聞其臭. But how good can that be for your health?

In the mountains, I frequently smell someone smoking long before I see him. Especially if you've got a heavy smoker, someone who's been smoking for years and his lungs are rotting in his chest, depending on the direction of the wind, sometimes I can smell someone like that from fifty paces away and more. It's an indescribably filthy smell.

I love these people who drive up to the mountains for a breath of fresh air and light up a cigaret.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A ruckus downstairs broke the quiet of a drowsy Sunday afternoon. Judging from his barking, Yumin had spotted a snake. I went down to investigate. Next to the front door, the dogs were in attack mode. Little Byajing was safe in the rear, Tlahuy guarded her, ready to pounce into action the moment Yumin needed support, and Yumin was on point, barking furiously was fearlessly keeping at bay… a turtle.

A turtle had crawled up almost to my front door. I put it in the water of the stone trough, and asked it to wait a minute while I rushed inside for my camera. After a few portraits, it lumbered off into the bushes, continuing its errand.

Nothing out of the ordinary, there are plenty of turtles around. What I find amusing about this is, how fast does a turtle go? It had crossed all the way across the tile porch before my alert guardians noticed it and sounded the alarm.
mmm, nice and cool. burble burble.
Yumin makes sure the turtle doesn't try any funny stuff.
Byajing takes a peek.
See her reflection in the lower left hand corner?

Ok, 881, I'll be seeing you.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Recently I have found a great site,
I have my own Overheard, but it is way too late. I visited New York for the first time in years last December, just in time for the subway strike. Passing a group of striking subway workers clustered around a subway entrance in Flushing, I actually heard one of them say, in reference to management,"Those dirty rats!" That is a direct quote, unaltered, authentic, I did not make it up, he actually said that.

Maybe it's part of joining a union, they teach you how to say this properly, and then you are required to say it during strikes. I was pretty impressed. It made the whole visit to New York seem more authentic.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Thursday, June 22, 2006

No better way to wait out a thundershower than curled up with someone you love and trust.
...even if it does get boring.

Rain, rain, go away...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I wrote this in the summer of 1982. This is non-fiction. I didn't make any of this up.

A new restaurant has opened in back of the Lai Lai Sheraton – Mama Roma Italiano Ristoranto Kosher Food.

The bosses are foreigners. I imagine their names to be Moses Vinorelli and Giuseppe Rosenstein. I really wonder how kosher their meat is. Who knows the rituals in Taiwan? They probably just put a yarmulke on each beast before they slaughter it. Or after.

Actually, there is a scattering of Jews in Taiwan. Hsiao Hui has a classmate named 王來貝嘉 Wang Lai-bei-jia, Chinese for Rebecca Wang. She's a Mongolian Jew. ("Funny, you don't look Jewish.") There is a selection of European Jews living in Shipai, near the old GI settlement. They are tended by a robust Dutch lady, Kitty Katts, who beat a drum and tugged a trombone for twelve years in Singapore for the Salvation Army. She's ready to preach at the drop of a hat – Jewish, Catholic, Protestant of all denominations, just aim her at the congregation and let her rip.

I met her at the Language Center (語言訓練測驗中心的前名), where she was vigorously teaching Inglitch Krammar in her indomitable Dutch aaksent, jah. She was a terror in the Teachers' Room. If anybody was smoking, and someone always was, she would demand in loud, clear, staccato jabs that 'dish! ish der air! for! effrybotty!' – nobody ever stopped smoking for her, and she would carry on for the time it would take to smoke a cigar.

One time Richard brought the paper into my office to read in the more comfortable chair. We heard the main door swoosh open, Kitty march into the main room, stomp several laps around the desks, plant her feet firmly, and announce:
KHOO hass der noosepaper! I vant to read der noosepaper, aand I do NOT KNOW vie ANYBOTTY took der noosepaper!
aand she stamp out der door.

That was nothing compared to the time somebody told her the wrong time to report to a briefing. Mixups like that happen all the time. When she realized she was an hour early, she marched down to the Director's Office. He had heard her coming, and barred the door to his Inner Sanctum. She steamed back up to the Teachers' Room. The secretaries could not explain why she had been told the wrong time, so she went howling up to the 4th floor cafeteria to find some responsible person. She yanked the hamburger out of mouth of the Training Section chief, but the briefing wasn't under his jurisdiction, so she hauled back down to the first floor to find the Testing Section who, forewarned by the uproar, had lit out the back door to find refuge on the other side of campus. When I got off work, the briefing was long past, but she was still making a ruckus in the tape lab. Eyewitnesses all swear that she grabbed the Training Section chief's wrist and pulled the hamburger away from his mouth so he could give her a clear explanation. That sure wasn't part of his job description! For months afterwards, he carried lunch from home and ate hunched over his lunchbox in his office, with the door shut.

Now that I think of it, her name was Kitty Kratz.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Be sure to watch this, if you haven't seen it yet.
This was a live interview broadcast on BBC on May 8, 2006.
BBC wanted to interview an authority on patent law concerning downloading from the Internet, Apple vs Apple. The person who appeared on the set had gone to the studio to apply for a job, and through some mixup, he suddenly found himself on camera, live.
Watch his expression when he realizes what is going on. Priceless!
He caught on a lot quicker than the interviewer did, and pulled through magnificently. He has become something of a folk hero, and now there's a website for him:

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Berlin is one of the few places I know where ideas can make a concrete difference in daily life," says philosopher Susan Neiman, head of a think tank, the Einstein Forum. (Smithsonian, 0606p99)

This wins my nomination for one of the most asinine remarks of the decade. Everything we do is the result of an idea; turn left at the next intersection, apply for a loan, have another cup of coffee, take the dog out for a walk, build a spaceship, carve a statue, step on a cockroach, pick up a bite to eat, design new software, take out the garbage, compose music, turn off that desk lamp, blow up a bridge, sharpen a pencil, which one is not begotten by an idea?

Or maybe the exalted Head of the Think Tank supposes that if it hasn't been presented at a symposium by someone with an advanced academic degree it does not merit the title idea?

I just hope the remark was taken out of context. One Richard Rorty is more than enough for this world.

(note: RR is an academic in Virginia or somewhere who delights in fatuous pronouncements such as 'The brain is the most relevant organ we have.')

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The other day I was in the city for class. The place I ate dinner had the tv on to the World Cup, with thousands of people getting hysterical about the game. The game, it's just a game, for Pete's sake!

I've never been one to get excited (or for that matter even care much) about watching other people play games. For some reason, as I was eating dinner and glancing at the screen from time to time, I kept flashing on a night long ago in Dalat, in the central highlands of Viet Nam during the war. I don't know why, but nights in the tropics seem darker:: pitch black:: there was a light drizzle, I was groping my way along the street to my friend's place where I was staying, when I met an ARVN patrol heading out into the pitch black night. I was in the town, they were heading out of town. They had ponchos on, and water dripped down their faces. They held their fingers on their triggers, ready to fight, if only they could see the enemy. They were walking forward steadily, without emotion, into the night, and I was thinking, jeeezus, that's dangerous! They simply had no way of knowing if they would survive the next thirty seconds.

I don't want to get on my high horse or anything, and it's fine to enjoy watching trained athletes perform, but shouldn't there be some sort of sense of proportion? It's just a game.

Saturday, June 17, 2006






Friday, June 16, 2006



Thursday, June 15, 2006

on foreign adventure
On June 7, Reverend Theodore Parker of the 28th Congregational Society of Boston, said this in a sermon.
"I maintain that aggressive war is a sin; that it is a national infidelity, a denial of Christianity and of God… treason against the people, against mankind, against God, is a great sin, not lightly to be spoken of. The political authors of the war… are either utterly incapable of a statesman's work, or else guilty of that sin.”

June 7, 1846, that was, concerning the invasion of Mexico, but please someone read this to Our Exalted President Bush.
這句非常高明;不是我們有任何問題,是他們趙家本來就是作姦犯科的貨,可惜進了陳家門來不及感化,舊技重犯,哎呀真糟糕他們趙家的人! 不是我們有任何問題,沒關係,手隨便一招就可以招徠新女婿。

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

藥廠招待醫生,眾所周知,是例行公事,還有人否認嗎?開玩笑,醫生給你開甲廠的藥而不開乙廠的,是如何取捨?請參Carl Elliott著The Drug Pushers ,刊載于The Atlantic Monthly 2006年四月號。

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Americans say prolly or probly for probably. Have you ever wondered where the missing syllables go?

We've got them. In Taiwan, probably is pronounced probabably. By mysterious means involving quantum physics and worm holes, the syllables Americans drop transport to Taiwan.

That's why Taiwan exports so many socks. You know all those socks that disappear in the washing machine and you could never figure out where they got off to? They reappear in Taiwan, where they are sorted, bundled, and sold back to the US.

That's why those socks you bought the other day look familiar. They are the ones you lost last winter, and they have come back to you via the wondrous workings of the universe. You probabably didn't know that.

Monday, June 12, 2006

He said there's a ship that's wanting hands
and on her you quickly sign
O her mate is a bastard, her boson's worse,
and she will suit you fine.
- Paddy West

"It was Hozin. In those days a lot of young Tayal were getting jobs on fishing boats and going to sea. Hozin said, "Let's go to sea,' so I went. You know Tayal just don't use our heads sometimes. I should have known better. When I was little my mother would take me on the bus back to galang na, mita yutas ru yagi, and I would throw up all the way across the mountains. I should have known better, but Hozin called, and sometimes we Tayal just don't use our heads.

"I went to sea on a little fishing boat, I was at sea for three years, and I was seasick for three years. I should have known better than to listen to Hozin. Everything I ate came right back up. At first the rest of the crew thought I was faking, but after three years I was still throwing up, and they finally believed me. I was young and strong in those days and I worked hard, so the captain would not let me go because I did the work of 4 men. I worked hard and ate a lot and every time I ate I meal I would rush to the stern and throw everything up.”

"You could have saved some energy by just tossing your meals from the bowls into the ocean.”

"Balay! The only time I was not seasick was when I was working so I worked hard. We had some older seamen on board, from the Puyuma tribe. I felt sorry for them so I did their work, because it kept me from feeling seasick anyway.

"I didn't even get trained before I went to sea, so I may be the only aborigine seaman with an appendix. When you signed up, they gave you two month's training before you went to sea, and the first thing they did was take out your appendix.

"But Hozin said, 'Let's go to sea,' so I got on the bus with him and we went to Kaohsiung. I was 18. When we signed up, they said, 'There is a berth on a ship sailing tomorrow,' so I went. That's why I still have my appendix. But I didn't have any training, I learned on the job. Before the ship sailed I phoned home but my Ma was out, so I left word with Qalux to tell her, Ma I have gone to sea, I will be home in three years. Then we sailed.

"I started vomiting before we left the harbor and kept vomiting until we returned home three years later. We had some old Puyuma seamen on board, one of them looked sickly, another was short and skinny but very strong. One night when we went to bed, the strong one was still washing. He took a long shower that night. As I fell asleep, I wondered why he was taking such a long shower. When he finished, he went to his bunk and fell asleep and never woke up. He died in his sleep. Nobody expected that. He was strong and healthy, and he didn't say he felt bad. He acted normal the night before. I think he must have felt something, which is why he took such a long shower. That was his last chance to wash his body.

"Well, he was dead and we were far at sea, so the captain put his body in the freezer with the catch. But every time they opened the freezer to freeze the catch, there was this body in there, so the sailors complained, and finally the captain sailed for Singapore. In Singapore they took him out of the freezer and notified his family. His family flew to Singapore. They cremated him and took his ashes home to Taitung.

"I almost died at sea, and not just from vomiting. One time we caught a shark, it was a great white shark, it was on the deck and thrashing. I was too close to it and it gashed me with a tooth, see? I still have the scar. It hurt! I lost a bowful of blood. Somebody rushed up with a knife, a long curved butcher knife, and severed its spine. But with a great white shark, you can't hack with the knife because the skin is too thick, you have to slice, and they sliced five or six times before they severed its spine.

"I came back to Taiwan when I was 21 because I had to serve in the army. After I got discharged, my captain came to Wulai to sign me up again because I worked so hard, but I said, No, I was seasick for three years, that's enough. I got a job driving a truck instead. I get carsick, but not when I'm driving. So I never went to sea again.”

Sunday, June 11, 2006




Saturday, June 10, 2006

On Yahoo, I saw a headline,
5 reasons you should care about the NBA finals
Yeah, good point, maybe you can list five reasons I should care, but I am sure that with a little thought, I could list hundreds or thousands of reasons I need not care. Big deal, watching millionaires sweat. I would rather watch my dogs scuffle.

The World Cup: who cares? It's just a bunch of guys kicking a ball around, which is fun, but hardly something to get all worked up about. I have a life.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I am not even pretending this is formal historical research. Rather, just a few comments.

The first half of the twentieth century was a bad time for your typical farmer in Taiwan, because landlords cooperating with Japanese authorities oppressed them. Before the Japanese occupation, laws were lax, and the landlords did not hold great sway over the average peasant. It goes without saying that not all landlords were bad, but enough collaborated with the Japanese to make life hard for the peasantry. Stay in your village and till the land for your landlord. The Japanese provided security inside the villages, but outside were bandits and danger. Don't think of going elsewhere or doing anything new. Just keep doing what you've done forever and obey the authorities.

After the liberation of Taiwan, the KMT enacted perhaps the most successful land reform in history. The slogan was Land to the Tiller. Landlords were given government bonds for their land, and the peasants were given title to the land they tilled. No landlords were shot or struggled to death or branded as kulaks, and the government bonds eventually made them very rich, but the KMT had freed their peasants, and they never forgave that.

When I first came to Taiwan, your typical middle class, lower middle class, lower class, factory worker, farm worker, truck driver, laborer was pleased with his lot (or her), because he had a bicycle and plans to buy a motor scooter, his kids were in school, and he could buy shoes for them, or at least plan on it. By about 1970, almost all kids had shoes to wear to school, something far beyond the peasantry's reach under the Japanese. Something that set me on guard was that I noticed that in the 1970s the only people who were really against the government and involved in Taiwan independence were people from the landlord clans. Ten years later, the only others interested in the movement were Presbyterians who had been taught by foreign missionaries that the government was bad because it did not obey the church. Then politicians realized there was power to be had.

A few weeks ago I was flipping through photography books in a bookstore, looking at old photos of Taiwan. Something struck me. The photos from 1865 are not too different from 1885 are not too different from 1905 are not too different from 1940. The peasants are peasants, plodding along as ever. Then Liberation, and bang! by 1955 you are clearly in a different world. People are wearing more up-to-date clothing and taking part in the modern world. They are not just plowing fields with water buffalo, they have tractors, they are working with machines, they are learning to be barbers or woodcarvers or machinists, and they have whole new fields of endeavor that had been closed to them. They are questioning and learning about the twentieth century. The children wear school uniforms and factory produced clothes, people have movies to watch, and start thinking of places to go beyond the village. They have plans! They are still poor then, but the whole attitude had changed. They were joining the modern world.

There, I think, is the crux of a lot of political tumult in Taiwan. Some people simply cannot forgive the KMT for modernizing this island.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

前不久Rosa Parks葬禮給我一種感覺,美國黑人與本省人有個很大的不同。




Wednesday, June 07, 2006


China: it takes thousands of years of culture to produce such intellectual performing art. It takes years of careful observation and study to be able to appreciate the intricacies of such a tournament as this. Very, very deep.

There seems to be a lag between audio and visual. At the end, the announcer says, "He is watching the tree carefully with both eyes." That would be before the tree fell, I think. He may have been watching carefully (with both eyes) but he forgot to catch it, or, failing that, dodge.

I suppose he didn't win the tree-catching tournament.
First place gets a trophy.
Second place gets a full body cast.
Third place, a casket.
Aha! I always thought so!
Dr Alan Hirsch, Director of the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago, reports the three smells that most inhibit female sexual arousal are cherries, barbecued meat, and cologne.

And it gets better. Dr Hirsch says, "Men have a worse ability to smell than women, so they tend to use too great a level of scent." And as they age, their sense of smell only gets worse. "So the odor you choose may be very different from what a woman likes.”

This should be engraved on the doors of every men's toilet on the planet.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

3PM Customer Service

Bank teller: I was working drive-through this morning and offered a customer a bone for her dog in the back seat.
Associate: I think it's nice that we do that.
Bank teller: The customer said it wasn't a dog, it was her mother.

801 West Big Beaver Road
Troy, Michigan

via Overheard in the Office, Jun 5, 2006
Oh boy, it's 060606, and I am making a note of this, just like I did for 050505 last year. Just wait for July 7 next year! Think you can bear the waiting?

PS: Christians are wonderful. Here they have been worried for centuries about 666 being the mark of the beast, and now it turns out an early scribe made a mistake, it should be 696 or something. All those ulcers and accusations about numbers. Well, it keeps them busy.

Guess what I'm going to write about on August 8, 2008?
The funny thing is, in China, 6 is a fortuitous number, 六六大順~還記得民國六十六年六月六日,很多人特地寄信,就是想要那天的郵戳,討個吉利。So who are we to believe, the Christians or the Chinese? I'll take the Chinese. They've been around a lot longer, and are very reasonable.

Monday, June 05, 2006

前幾天過臺大,好像剛舉行畢業典禮(還有人把學士袍、方帽戴進捷運,是不是有點那個?)。聽到一個男生很高興說,再也不用攷試! 再也沒有人打分數!


Sunday, June 04, 2006



Saturday, June 03, 2006

Tlahuy and Bengax used to sing together. They had a routine. Tlahuy would sound the first notes, then Bengax would join in, barking in a higher pitch as Tlahuy bayed. When they finished, if I called out "Thank you" they would do a short encore.

It was all very rhythmic. Some people think dogs singing\狗唳 is not lucky, but nobody who saw them sing thought so. They too clearly enjoyed it. They would wag their tails together, croon with half shut eyes, dance a bit. You could see it was sheer bliss for them. They sang four or five times a day.

When Yumin came, sometimes he would join in, but usually it was Tlahuy and Bengax.

Then Bengax died. It broke my heart to hear poor old Tlahuy tuning up, and then petering out when nobody joined in. After a couple months, Yumin would sing with him, but only once every several days.

Enter Byajing, who quickly took the role of soprano. The boys dote on her. But she is still just a puppy, so for the time being, I keep her in the first floor bathroom when I am gone or at night.

In the morning, an hour or so after dawn, Tlahuy and Yumin begin to sing at the front door, and Byajing joins them from her dungeon (the bathroom). When they have awakened me, I go down and take her outside to widdle and play with the boys while I go back to sleep.

This morning as usual I woke to the canine chorus, carried Byajing out, and deposited her out front. As she widdled, Yumin very purposefully trotted over to a clump of grass. He nuzzled around there and retrieved a little plastic bottle, which he brought over and very carefully deposited before Byajing.

Apparently during his morning beagle rounds, Yumin had found this treasure somewhere and brought it home for Byajing to play with. He was just bursting with pleasure. He had deposited it in the grass for safekeeping until she came out. I thought that was about the sweetest thing I have ever seen a dog do, and crawled back into bed with a smile, to the sound of the bottle ricocheting all over.

The little plastic bottle is one of those calligraphy ink bottles, for when you don't want to grind your own ink. This ink was, as is often the case, strongly scented, which is probably what attracted Yumin's beagle nose to it in the first place. Anybody has used that kind of ink knows that a drop or two goes a long way, and whoever discarded the bottle had not used it all up. By the time I got out of bed for the day, all three dogs looked like they had put on black booties, and the porch\玄關 resembled a Jackson Pollock.

I bought Byajing a squeaky toy the other day, but the bottle is her favorite toy, as well it should be. When I shut her in the bathroom, Yumin hides the bottle somewhere so it will be ready for her next time she is out.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I don't intend to go on and on about Bruce Lee, but I would like to comment on two things.

First, somebody was proclaiming the legend of Bruce Lee, which got me to thinking. In the late 60s in the karate crowds around LA, Lee was considered good and was respected, but among his peers, he was not considered a superstar or anything.

Ok, back up a bit: in the 60s, people didn't use the term martial arts very much, and fortunately the misnomer kungfu had not spread. Karate was the term used for Oriental fighting arts in general, and at the time, most people thought karate was some sort of Mexican food or something anyway. LA was a center of oriental fighting arts in the US at the time, or as much a center as existed. There were good fighters elsewhere, but everybody passed through LA at some time or another, especially for the Internationals. At the time we are talking about, I was the youngest instructor in Ed Parker's home studio, on Walnut in Pasadena, and the top fighters dropped in the studio, and on my head, and back, and ribs.

Back to Bruce Lee. Fighters of all styles thought he was good, but I never saw or heard of Lee sparring with anybody but his students, when he was dishing it out. I never saw him get hit, and for a fighter, it's important to be able to take a hit without falling apart.

I would say that at the time, it was taken for granted that Lee never wanted to come close to the top teachers or competitors in a sparring match. Someone like Tiki Matali'i (sp?) would have walked right over him. Lesser known experts such as Deon Steckling or Dannie Rodarte would have tied him up. Louis Solis was about Lee's size, and probably would have gone through him like a bulldozer through a motorscooter. Lee spent a lot of time on glittery tricks like making change in your palm, which were impressive, but tricks nonetheless. He wouldn't spar.

After I left the States, of course I met more fighters. Some Koreans I met in Viet Nam during the War wouldn't have broken a sweat on Lee. They were fighting to the death in the jungles, not shooting movies. A lot of these old soldiers in Taiwan who grew up fighting Japanese soldiers, bandits, and communist guerillas ate people like Bruce Lee for snacks. They just didn't have publicists or makeup artists.

I am flashing on an amusing imaginary scene of Lee fighting my old Mantis teacher, Mr Chang 張三鮮老師; that would have been like a puppy going at a bear. Lee was good, but he was not anywhere near the best, and he was all flash and sparkle.

While I'm at it, another topic comes to mind before I drop the discussion. How did Lee die? I remember the shock at his death in actress Ting Pei's apartment. Rumors and speculation filled the sky: he was murdered by communist agents; he was beaten to death by Koreans in a final showdown in a godown; the CIA killed him; he died of drug overdose; he jumped out the window; he actually entered a secret monastery in central China; the Soviets hired him to train the KGB; he was hit by a taxi, and that was too great a loss of face so they said it was the actress; and so forth ad infinitum.

About fifteen years after the event, I happened to be chatting with a disciple of Teacher South (those who know who I'm talking about can figure it out; those who can't figure it out, never mind). Now Teacher South is a well known 密宗上師 tantric guru and a thorough old fox. My friend happened to mention that in the early 70s Ting Pei was also a disciple of Teacher South. I asked if Ting had practiced double-body techniques with South 有沒有修雙身, and he said, Of course, that's why she improved so quickly.

There, I believe, is the answer to the death of Bruce Lee. Ting screwed him to death. At the time Lee was into some really strange training methods which probably disordered his chi 氣岔掉了, so his body couldn't meet her demands.

That is my theory, anyway. I hope it's true, because wouldn't that be a great way to go?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Somebody on said Bruce Lee whopped Chuck Norris. Really? When? And if so, so what? Chuck Norris and Joe Louis fought many times; sometimes Norris won, sometimes Louis.

But that got me thinking. Bruce Lee was a showman, and he was good, no doubt about that, but he was not a fighter. He demonstrated moves, always keeping the situation under control, but he was not like Tom Garriga, Huk Planas, or Mike Pick, who were always ready to get out on the mats and spar for as long as you could last.

Bruce Lee would show up at tournaments in the late 60s, but he never competed. Again, he was good, but he was a movie star, not a fighter, even in tournaments, which are nowhere near as challenging as getting on the mats in Ed Parker's Pasadena studio, where I trained, and got thrashed more times than I can remember: it's good for you!!

I had never looked at it this way, so I am searching my memory. For a while around 1969, 1970, Lee used to come to the Pasadena studio every week, but I never heard of him getting on the mats and sparring with anybody. He wanted adulation, not competitors. Somebody like Steve Sanders, Bill Wallace, or Tom Kelly, they'd be on the mats and ready to freestyle as soon as they could change out of their street clothes. Most of the martial artists were like that, but not Lee. If I remember correctly, if Lee was going to demonstrate a move, he always chose his body, usually one of his own worshipful students. He would never show something on, say, Joe Louis. Louis would hit back.

Now, Mr Parker loved to spar, if he could find anyone foolish to take him up. Well, it's how you learn, take your lumps and learn a lesson. If you don't want to get hit (or kicked or elbowed or kneed), take up basketball or tiddlywinks or ballroom dancing. Mr Parker was a fighter! Getting hit by him, even when he was just carefully demonstrating something, was like getting hit by a baseball bat. But Bruce Lee was a showman.

Now I'm probably going to get hate mail from Lee worshippers.