Thanksgiving Sunday

This past Friday night, I should mention, had a fascinating Charlie Rose interview of Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit and Law and Economics fame. Such a great interview!

The new “Nightline” is coming

Saw “Rent” yesterday. I thought it was a pretty good musical movie. The fact that it had the original cast (or most of them anyway) was great too – beautiful voices and very attractive cast. And, yeah, some of the cast is looking a little long in the tooth to still play characters in their twenties, and it’s not a perfect movie (no plot, as one person said – but it’s a musical, and musicals are always going to be weak in plot). I liked the NY Times review by A.O. Scott best:

In other words, “Rent” is occasionally silly, often melodramatic and never subtle. Every song swells toward bombast, and every theme, musical or narrative, is underlined almost to the point of illegibility. [“Rent” creator Jonathan] Larson’s attempt to force the marriage of rock and Broadway often sends the worst of both genres into noisy collision, as if Meat Loaf and Andrew Lloyd Webber were reworking “Exile on Main Street.” Certainly, the musical traditions of the show’s native ground – home to the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, Sonic Youth and so on – are hardly audible in its tunes. But to raise such objections – or to chide “Rent” for its childish politics or its simplistic and instantly obsolete vision of the New York demimonde – is to think like a them.

Yes, Bohemia is dead. Its funeral rites are pronounced by Mr. Larson’s best song (“La Vie Boheme,” quoted earlier), a wondrously nonsensical catalog of tastes, ideas and attitudes ranging from microbrewed beers to Kurosawa movies, with a toast along the way to “Sontag and to Sondheim and to everything taboo.” But the passage of time, which has left almost nothing taboo, has also inoculated “Rent” against the disdain of hipsters who might find it woefully unsophisticated. Its idea of Bohemia is not realistic, but romantic, even utopian. Openhearted to a fault, it stakes its integrity on the faith that even in millennial New York, some things – friendship, compassion, grief, pleasure, beauty – are more important than money or real estate.

It never hurts to be reminded. Precisely because some of the specific concerns of “Rent” have become dated, the truth at its heart is clearer than ever. It is undeniably sentimental, but its sentimentality might serve as a balm to those of us, in New York and elsewhere, who sometimes find ourselves living in the long, tuneless sequel. Who would ever want to see a show called “Mortgage”?

Nice points. Although, I do wonder if the Red State folks may stomach “Rent,” but it’s been around almost 10 years, so what can one really say? Just sit back and enjoy the visuals and the music.

Nice Sunday outing – Baishawan (白沙灣)

B- and I headed out for a whole day of R&R. She found this place within the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Park area.

We visited my favorite Yonghe Dou Jiang (永和豆漿) for some traditional Chinese breakfast stuff like soybean milk (dou jiang 豆漿), breaded stick etc. Then headed out to Danshui (淡水), the last stop on the redline MRT. From there we took the bus to Baishawan, about a 40 min bus ride. Nice slightly overcast and breezy day. But that’s the best kind fo weather to be traveling and moving about. Feet tired but a nice good day for us. Headed back to Danshui around 5-6pm and ate some HK style food which was great. Good call by B- again on this one. Walked around the Danshui boardwalk and then headed home.

Tomorrow, back to work.

Beijing 北京 back to Taipei 臺北 (台北)

hey FC, wanted to mention I like what you’ve done with the little tweaks here and there.

Arrived back in Taipei yesterday. My traveling seems to be always rush rush these days. I forgot my laptop battery pack at my friend’s home in Beijing. The trip out to Beijing airport early morning was pretty busy for 6 am. Most of the highway roads are at least 6 lane highways, 3 each way and plenty of road traffic hmmm. Got to Beijing airport by 6:30am ish and wham, road jam as everyone just stopped at the international airport. I have to say, they got to do a better design and quickly speed up the build up of Terminal 3. There’s no way that they can support Beijing 2008 with two terminals which are about the size of CKS Airport Taiwan.

At the Beijing airport with the mad rush of international flights early morning, there was a remarkable 5 immigration agents on hand to check your passports …. so everyone was feeling the squeeze. But before then they had a system I’ve never seen before in any other international airport.

So, you arrive at the terminal and you need to check-in. But before you check in, you need to pass the Customs gatekeepers with your “Goods to Declare” or “No Goods to Declare” card. The problem is that there were only 3 lines but then in the middle of it, they closed down one of them! So all the folks in that line had to go back to the end of the line in the other two custom lines. Ouch. The reason? They were only for the airline crews. Huh? But can’t they also service the other people? By that time, we’re talking about a few hundred people queued up. So everyone’s trying to cut into line and moving forward (just like on the highway, roads of Beijing). Once you’re through, then you go to the airline counter to check in. My Cathay Pacific agent was very nice. He put a priority check-in tag on my luggage so that it would arrive first when I got to Taipei. (It did, I didn’t have to wait long and it came out fast, instead of last). I’ve travelled so many places before and never knew that you could get this nice customer service feature. Great because I hate waiting at the luggage claim carousels.

So then after the speedy efficient Cathay Pacific check-in (Cathay is starting to get my vote for top airline award here in Asia-Pacific), I hit the immigration check-in wall. When I get there, they saw my English written declaration/exit card but with my Taiwanese Tai Bao Zin “passport” and he said I had to fill it out in Chinese. WTF! Apparently, someone who was Taiwanese had to know how to write in Chinese, not English. So anyways, I did that quickly as best I could (thank God for my drawing abilities learnt as a kid), and then on my way. Had about 10 minutes to spare before boarding time.

Flight into HK, I had 10 minutes to spare before my transfer onto CX406 to Taipei. One of the downsides of the hub system is that they really cut the transfer times close. By the time I got there, they were already boarding. Luckily there were other planes feeding that flight so I was able to settle in and deposit my bags in the plane’s luggage compartments. Managed to catch the latest Batman movie. Liked it a lot. Wasn’t sure but was that Gary Oldman as the good cop? I was surprised because he seems to always play the bad guys.

Taipei is very warm and the weekend is good. Catching up with B- with some QT time this weekend. It’s been nice to decompress from the work and enjoy.