Monkey Magic!

"Even in Heaven, they say desire ends in tears."

It turns out the dub-cult-classic Monkey Magic actually has some pretty deep roots. I always thought it was the product of a Japanese acid trip. Not so!

The side burned Monkey and the rotund Pigsy are so important to Chinese culture, they’re like invoking Heracles, King Arthur or Ned Kelly.

Their story is told in Journey to the West, one of the four literary classics that make up the Chinese canon (the other three are here). It follows Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) on his quest to India to claim some great texts (sutras). He’s magic of course, can transform into many different beings and each of his hairs have magical powers.

Journey to the West is also the most popular Beijing Opera (Peking Opera for all your imperialists). The tale of adventure, heroism, love, deceit and animal transformation really resonates with the audience. The iconic Beijing Opera masks are strikingly beautiful (see below).

The Journey to the West was also the inspiration for among other things, Indiana Jones and the Temple Doom, the Damon Albarn band, Gorillaz, and Dragon Ball Z.

I know this is a hasty introduction and after doing some reading on the characters and the mythology I could spend all day exalting at the feet of the Monkey King.

But instead here are some truly breathtaking images inspired by JTTW.

I attended Beijing’s modern art museum and found these floor to ceiling portraits.

It’s really shit, but have I forgotten the artist’s name and I cannot find them on the net anywhere. So I want to stress THESE IMAGES ARE NOT MINE!!!! I have included the caption that appeared next to the images below.

If you haven’t made the connection, the masks are the characters in Beijing Opera.

Monkey King: Not your average monkey, this fantastic hero came out from under a rock and can quake the heavens. Flying about fighting off ghosts and evil spirits with his deep repertoire of magic, the Monkey King quickly became a favourite of the people. He certainly carries a big stick, but is not known for walking softly…

Gorilla Gall: A powerful villain, Xing-xing Dan (Gorilla Gall), is also a flying primate who hovers about protecting his fellow thugs. The Gorilla, though keen-eyed, plays only a short role when he is forced to go home after his arm is injured by an arrow. The fairly obscure and rare character of few lines only appears in a single opera.

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Ladies, worried about your distressed nipples?

Spot the nipple? Neither can I. (source: ChinaSmack)

China has gone bonkers. They’ve gone nipple bonkers.

Firstly, the cause.

Two weeks ago a spate of Chinese female news anchorwomen began sporting a similar fashion statement on camera. ERECT NIPPLES!! A spate of erect nipples!!!

In a particular popular post on the controversial blog, China Smack, a blogger brought attention to the nipple-showing ladies and called for comments. Well the blog was linked to from thousands of sites and millions of comments were posted. Yep, millions.

Head over here for a look. My description will not suffice the stupidity of the controversy.

Secondly, the source of the problem!

Could cut glass

An enterprising old man from Chengdu has created the ‘nipple bra’. He believes conventional bras are crushing the female nipple leading to distress.

Conventional bras he says, are “Himalayas mountains without a Mount Everest”.

He also goes on to say, that he considers himself a “liberator” like Sun Yatsen, the man who rebelled against the tradition of female feet binding.

China’s very own “nipple-gate”. Lord.

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Fu Qi Xiang

Stumbled across this phrase in conversation with someone at work.

‘fu qi xiang’ (foo-chi-si-yung)

Ad hoc meaning, ‘look of the couple’.

It gets applied to couples who look alike. In Chinese culture it is very very very lucky. Turns out if you find somewhere you look alike, you’re destined to be together forever.

When asked by my colleagues if there was an equal sentiment in the West, I said ‘no’. I couldn’t think of any couples from family to friends that looked alike.

But then I realised there was a sad phenomenon in some cultures…..

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Woman in 70s saves herself from drowning – China Daily headline

Swimming (v.) – To be in the process of continually saving oneself from drowning.

Story here.

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Whitewash this.

Super sniper

AFP reports today that a film about an Australian-Chinese war hero has provoked name calling from Chinese lobby groups.

Billy Sing, a legendary sniper who killed over 200 enemies in Gallipoli, is the inspiration, nay, course material for the upcoming Australian television film “The Legend of Billy Sing”.

In it Sing will be played by a Caucasian actor.

“I’m very sorry to learn that somebody is trying to whitewash a Chinese-Australian face with a white face. It’s a disgrace,” said Tony Pang, president of the Chinese Australian Forum to AFP.

Racism and charges of nepotism (the director has cast his son to play the role) are barbs that have also been thrown

Looking at the photo, it’s hard not to think these labels are a bit overdone. I’ll pay your nepotism BUT Sing is half Chinese. IF! the story neglects to note he is Chinese, by maybe, I don’t know, saying he isn’t half Chinese, then I’ll be the first with whitewash on my hands.

But if they define him as half-Chinese in the movie and have a white actor standing there… well the film won’t be taken seriously anyway.

Relax. The fact this story made it to AFP and China Daily will now almost certainly mean people will want a debate about whitewashing.

The 21st Century Minstrel

Let’s just mention Robert Downey Jnr. and be done with it.

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“S’all good,” said China

Ah the Henry Tax Review. My lips don’t lie, I don’t really get it.

However, the one talking point that the coalition has successfully driven home is the Great Big New Tax on the mining industry.

Once again, I’m not going to pretend to compute all the ramifications of this fiscal furore. All I know is that my share portfolio is bleeding blue chip.

But I read somewhere (The Australian), that the mining tax will scare off foreign investors, notably the resource guzzling China.

Hey conservative commentators and BHP/Rio! Not so.

In an article titled: “Australia’s super-tax on miners fails to deter Chinese investments,” the China Daily today reported the following:

Zhang Ye, vice-general manager of China National Minerals, a wholly owned subsidiary of metals trader China Minmetals, said the proposal would not affect Chinese companies’ decision to invest in Australian mining.

But it then went on to express concerns, and even challenging the Oz governments yellow peril fears:

“Some Chinese companies complained that the Australian government doesn’t have a favorable attitude toward Chinese companies investing in the nation’s mines, said industry analysts”

(BTW this is the worst type of journalism. Note the beautiful editorializing of “some say” – who say? Plus no attribution to “industry analysts”)

Got the black lung Pa

Publicly China is saying the TAX will not make a difference. Privately they are whinging not just because mining companies may have to raise prices, but because China owns huge stakes in Rio and BHP.

Ultimately it won’t make a huge lot of difference. China needs 62 million metric tones of iron ore, 4 million tones of coal, and 1.8 tonnes of uranium every month just to keep the economy moving.

Without Australia, I guess there’s always Africa.

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Expo Pt. II: Attack of the Trojan Bunny!

So when I showed you Macau’s pavillion I didn’t zoom out.

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannong

Supposedly it’s a “Jade Rabbit Imperial Lantern” and I don’t know what that means.

The head and ears are giants balloons filled with helium.

This is only going to end up two ways:

1. In the dead of night, a thousand Macau warriors will escape the head and take over Shanghai. It’s even got wheels!

2. The helium is actually hydrogen (Macau couldn’t afford the helium) and a strategic flaming cannonball from imperial masters, Portugal, will cause pieces of flaming bunny to rain down upon the city.

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