Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

Gung Hei Fat Choy to everyone out there at the beginning of the year of the Ox. My wife's Chinese, so we usually mark the new year with a nice supper centred around a few traditional dishes. But for my part, being an SF fan, the holiday's gotta be celebrated with some good storytelling too.

First and foremost in the tradition, is sitting down to watch John Carpenter's masterpiece: "Big Trouble in Little China". One of my all-time favourite movies. I've enthused about it here before, so I won't got into too many details, but it's a great combination of humour and action as we ride along with John-Wayne-talking (at least when his confidence is up) fish-out-of-water truck driver Jack Burton, perhaps one of the greatest movie sidekicks of all time. Bonus points to Carpenter for being dedicated enough to make sure the insults and threats the Chinese characters fire back and forth at each other in Cantonese actually make sense (I know because my wife often chuckles away when she watches and has translated some of them). And of course, the dialogue in the film is ripe with one-liners that stick in the memory for years. My favourite is from the villain, Lo-Pan: "You were not brought upon this world to 'get it', Mr. Burton!"

The laugh fest was followed-up by Ang Lee's melancholy fantasy "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". This too is movie that never gets stale. It's easy to get swept up in the golden-age tapestry of flying heroes wielding swords against foes to settle epic grudges. Each viewing unveils a new nuance in the acting or the characters' interactions with one-another, and the lush visuals are always a treat.

Of course, this year New Years eve fell on Robbie Burns night, so the turnip cake was followed up with a double-shot of scotch. Not the most obvious culinary combination in the world, but it worked, and as "Big Trouble in Little China" illustrated, more often than not, East and West work very well together.

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