When I was ten, I saw Star Wars (A New Hope) for the first time. I queued at the movie theater with my grandma. The moment I saw Princess Leia, I knew she was a different kind of princess: a feisty, kickass woman who would eventually lead a rebellion, a heroine for the ages.  She remains one of my favorite movie characters of all time.

Aside from playing Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher was also a successful screenwriter and memoirist, all the while battling bipolar disorder and drug addictions. She reminds us, “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary, happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”

Here’s a jazzy love theme to remember Carrie Fisher by, from the now-rare album, Empire Jazz, by Ron Carter.

Carrie, you deserve a standing ovation.  Thank you for being real.

Daily Prompt: Ovation


I started watching Korean tv dramas early this year, beginning with Descendants of the Sun.  I was quickly hooked; the lead actors and actresses were good-looking and acted reasonably well. It was a drama about a doctor and her soldier boyfriend, partially set in a fictional Balkan war-torn country. There was humor, pathos, drama and heavy lashings of romance to keep me interested.

Love in the Moonlight followed. This was a sageuk, or a Korean historical drama set in the Joseon dynasty, where the daughter of a political dissident pretends to be a eunuch and falls in love with the Crown Prince.  Then I watched On the Way to the Airport , a love story between two people caught in unhappy marriages. The airing times of the dramas conflicted with work and other duties, so I ended up following it online on MyAsianTV.se. I even read the drama forums on Soompi.com!

My latest drama is The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop, a family drama about four men who work in a hundred-year-old tailor shop. There are several romances going on in this drama, one of which is that between the son of the owner of the shop and his seamstress.  He’s recently divorced and has fallen in love for the first time with this naive martyr of a girl who’s being oppressed by a gangster she nearly married.  wolgyesu

I enjoy watching it in Korean with English subtitles.  Of course there are numerous cliches in K-drama that we see over and over again, but that never takes away my fun. I enjoy it more than local Filipino dramas, or South American telenovelas. The Hallyu or Korean wave has really hit me hard. I’m now relatively up-to-date with K-pop, K-dramas and variety shows!

Daily Prompt: Martyr


When I was a little girl, my mom played old tapes of one of her favorite classical compositions for me and my sister, over and over.  By tapes, I mean a huge reel as big as a dinner plate on an AKAI player.  (This was in the early 70s, before the days of the cassette tape.) We loved Sergei Prokofiev‘s 1936 work Peter and the Wolf – the main melody was as memorable as our other favorite, the Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”.  What made it stand apart from other works for us was that the recording had a narrator.  Now I am not sure, but I seem to remember that at the time it was the late British actor Sir Peter Ustinov.  (Listen to snippets for free here.)

While Joy was googling for a video of an orchestral performance on Youtube, what came up was a 2006 stop-motion animated film directed by Suzie Templeton that apparently won a BAFTA in 2007 and an Academy Award in 2008! (And three other awards.)   I highly recommend it to all parents.  Here it is, in four parts, on Youtube:

This series was originally posted on Youtube by Actealcien.


BBC One is airing a new 5-part mini-series of the cult sci-fi show Torchwood this week in the UK, called Children of the Earth.  (The videos can’t be played in our area, unless you have Hotspot Shield.) If this does well, then I suppose there will a next season for my favorite Cardiff sci-fi crew

Here’s trailer 2 from Youtube:

Pete Dillon-Trenchard tells us what he’d like to see more of in this mini-series in the blog Den of the Geek.  I don’t agree with the whole article, as I am a Gwen Cooper fan, and I think it’s cool that the Torchwood 3 HQ is right next door to the Roald Dahl Center in Cardiff.  But I do agree that Captain Jack Harkness needs to bring out his inner Indiana Jones more.  They should also give Ianto Jones more to do than deliver pizza and be somebody’s main boink.  And that they should occasionally foray into the Whoniverse (as in Dr. Who, to non-fans), if they’re not doing Cardiff time-space crimebusting.  Just to show the bigger picture, if you will.

Pretty please let there be a next season and more production funding!  (Thanks to Paolo M’s Facebook post today.)  For past Torchwood shows, check here.


This is for all those who remember the 80’s, when iconic soaps ruled tv primetime programming.  Who could forget the uberglam Krystle vs. Alexis catfight on Dynasty

It was so iconic that it was hilariously referenced a couple of decades later by the Minogue sisters Kylie and Dannii on The Kylie Show:

This blog entry won’t be complete without a vintage Pinoy-style comedy catfight where megastar Sharon Cuneta (still a teener) defends her long-suffering mom Susan Roces from “a couple of annoying bitches”:

Sharon grows up, to figure in a 1992 catfight where the deliciously “butangera” (“fishwife”) Bing Loyzaga accuses her of stealing her man.  The movie, Tayong Dalawa, nods to both Dynasty and Fatal Attraction at once!


Now I am a great H.P. Lovecraft fan.  (Like I am a great Dr. Who fan.  Science fiction and fantasy, I am your girl!)

Dark Roasted Blend
, one of my favorite “odd photo conglomeration” sites, gives us this entertaining view of how love of knitting and cult monstrosity mix. [You’ll love the different photo sets in their other blog posts too, I promise.]

Just the other night I was watching downloaded beloved reruns of the 80’s seasons of The [New] Twilight Zone (Harlan Ellison era, 1985-89) and there was one episode about a little boy whose nigh-on-dying grandma turns out to be a creepy Cthulhu thrall!  Now this!
Amber’s crocheted Cthulhu is absolutely, uh, adorable. I wish I could post the photo here, but do visit the link to see Amber’s celebration of creativity. The amigurumi (knitted toy Japanese style) pattern is free. Unfortunately I’m not that much of a crocheter. Joy is, and amigurumi gives her a bit of carpal tunnel.

One of the knitters on the monsters page, Kimberly Chapman, did her Dalek from EntropyHouse’s “ExtermiKNIT” Kit! Previously I wrote in Knittipina about the Knitted Dalek photographed in a UK convention by Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I did not know there were more in that army *amusement*

Yes, the Dalek pattern is FREE. I might make it one day. I’ll probably have better luck finishing it than meeting David Tennant in person. But hey, I met Neil Gaiman in person, so you never know. And then shall come… a Knitted Sandman?


Written elsewhere in another blog I own, shortly after Holy Week:

For the last three weeks my stack of unviewed dvds has been growing. My interest in Oscar blockbusters has not been engaged much, except for Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”, but since the theme is tragic and depressing I have held off watching it. I’m a bit lucky to have found a couple of friendly sources for my preferred movies, namely foreign language films. The latter are so hard to find. I just never got the time till now (it being Holy Week), to watch them.

I like watching world cinema in their original language with English subtitles. That way I get the full expression of the acting. Dubbing in English disappoints me, especially when the voice does not match the character, or when poor dubbing results in too many lip movements and not enough syllables heard. And, of course, good translation is critical.

The other night I watched an old favorite, Laura Esquivel’s Como Agua Para Chocolate (“Like Water For Chocolate” – 1992). I had read the book before the movie was released, a prime example of Latin magical realism (read: suspend your disbelief at the appropriate plot devices). I hadn’t watched it for years. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I still agree with my original opinion that the actor playing Pedro plainly wasn’t compelling enough for Tita to knit miles of bedspread for. Lots of mouth-watering cooking scenes, as family recipes are a recurrent theme in the book. A favorite scene is where the revolutionary captain goes after the middle sister running naked from the burning bathroom, plucking her from the ground and heaving her onto his horse in one amazing fluid motion. It’s the kind of scene that makes people clap in the middle of the movie house because of its supercharged erotic audacity.

Last night I watched Zhang Yimou’s award-winning Da hong deng long gao gao gua (“Raise The Red Lantern” – 1991) for the very first time. I am such a Gong Li fan, you see. She plays Songlian, a former university student married off at 19 to a rich man as his fourth wife (read: concubine) in 1920s China. Songlian, imprisoned in her gilded cage, finds herself thrust in the middle of household intrigues more dire than any Desperate Housewife can handle. Five stars for this! It deserves all its accolades — for plot, direction, cinematography and acting. It affected me. And yes, it bears watching again and again.

To end the evening on a lighter, albeit no less critically acclaimed note, I watched Juzo Itami’s Tampopo (“Dandelion” – 1985). Fondly called “the first Japanese noodle Western!”, this is food porn at its best. Think Clint Eastwood and… er, Shirley MacLaine… only in Japanese. This is a sensual feast of a comedy where a cowboy hat-wearing truck driver helps a widowed single mother open a successful ramen house… together with his cute young sidekick, an ancient noodle sensei, a rich man’s chauffeur, and a thuggish building contractor! Favorite scene #1: Homeless gourmet tells Goro and Tampopo about the fine nuances of flavor between the dregs of three bottles of French wine he scavenged from the rubbish bin of a restaurant. I wish I knew the exact dialogue, but he talked like a professional wine taster! It was dead funny! Favorite scene #2: Well-dressed Humphrey Bogart-ish gangster (who is obsessed with food and cinema) and his girl have sex AND food. This theme certainly came out an entire year before 9 1/2 Weeks and for me was a better, more successful treatment. Check out the part where they kiss, passing a raw egg yolk from mouth to mouth, whereupon the girl is overcome with desire and goes limp. It’s a very romantic side story where every side story is about food, its preparation and its appreciation. But don’t forget it’s a comedy! A very Japanese one. I actually got hungry watching everyone slurp ramen (which occurs with delicious frequency in this film).

In the meantime I am trying to find or download Ang Lee’s Yin shi nan nu (“Eat Drink Man Woman” – 1994).

Yes, I must admit, a lot of the foreign language films I watch seem to feature love, sex, food and death. All good reasons for watching.


Shutter (2008) courtesy of Imdb.com

Almond and I went to watch Shutter (2008 ) last Thursday night, at SM Megamall. She wanted to watch it because we’d seen the Thai original a couple of years earlier, which we loved because it scared the hell out of us.

The thing with Hollywood remakes of Asian horror is that more often than not the cultural elements that create the horror end up lost in translation. I personally feel that for a lot of mid-quality Hollywood horror movies, lead characters are generally written as two-dimensional. They have no foundation of faith, and are more swayed by superstition on the one end or skepticism on the other, which is why they tumble down the long road of suffering. Hollywood directors tend to focus more on the long road of suffering than on the inherent causes of it, because that seems to be what American audiences enjoy. There is this thrill they get from vicarious experience of other people’s suffering for as long as the only danger they are in is choking on their own popcorn. You can replace the actors in these movies any number of times and you’d still get stereotype victims. It’s as though Hollywood is unable to come up with original stuff, that they feel they have to translate Asian horror for the American audience. What they don’t get is, except for English subtitling, there is nothing they need to translate. Such is the case for Shutter (2004) .

There are no spoilers in this entry. I don’t believe in ruining it for innocent passersby, because they really should have their own opinion about a movie. I just observed the following differences in treatments of the material.

The Hollywood version has a Japanese director, presumably so the viewers don’t lose that essential Asian viewpoint. By changing the movie setting to “gaijins in Tokyo” mode (gaijin = “foreigner”, a Japanese term with shades of race discrimination used to refer to Caucasians, similar to the Cantonese word gweilo), the premise of horror is plausible, since most Western travellers are either delighted or repelled by the strangeness – or specifically, “other-ness” – of Japanese concepts. What the remake does is successfully trade on the cultural difference to create a mood of tragedy, deception, and injustice. There is resolution involving karmic balance, so the viewer is able to get a sense of relief that evil is not cyclical or self-perpetuating. The latter idea gets tiresome, but Hollywood likes to milk that concept in order to create sequels or series. If such franchises are not good enough to create their own cult following, all they are is visual junk food.

What backfired here is that many Americans commented on the imdb.com forums that the Japanese horror elements used in Shutter (2008 ) looked cribbed from Ringu (The Ring, 1998 ). I agree; in Hollywood there is no longer any novelty in seeing long-haired dead Asian girls creeping out of a television / photograph / cabinet / mirror / what-have-you. Although that is what I loved precisely about “Ringu” (original Japanese version always, please, but not its sequels). That image is so powerful and iconic I can’t bear to watch it again on my own. It gives me nightmares.

Hollywood, I feel, tends to film movies too brightly. They are too glossy and too high-contrast. They rely too much on surprise to elicit screams. They can’t put a finger exactly on what makes Asian horror, horror. In Hollywood, chainsaw massacres are human crimes whose negative energies resonate to the waking world, but in Asia, superstition about certain kinds of death creates horror. It’s like the stories your grandmother told you about the vengeful ghosts of innocent pregnant women murdered during World War II, when she was still a young girl in the countryside, things like that.

The Thai original of “Shutter” has a 1970’s mood. It’s a bit gritty, a bit home-movie like. It has SHADOWS. In between shots of sunny cosmopolitan Bangkok we get dark glimpses of folk superstition, despite Thailand being known for its gentle Buddhism. The Thai directors really hit the nail on the head there. They manage to emphasize that light and dark COEXIST on a daily basis in Asia. It’s in the simultaneous modernity and respect for tradition that makes Bangkok so interesting. That’s where the mystery and the inexplicable horror come from. The feeling of uneasiness throughout the viewing experience of the original “Shutter” is what makes it top-rate.

I didn’t mind spending P150 for the Hollywood version movie ticket. I was curious. It may come out on cable in a year or so. But I think, if you really wanted to enjoy “Shutter”, buy the 2004 Thai version on DVD and watch it in your darkened bedroom with a friend who enjoys the same thing. And if you’re feeling particularly brave, watch “Ringu” as well. The nightmares will make you lose weight.