This year, 2021, is the year when snowstorm, hurricane flood, and water pipe leakage ravage our house like nobody’s business. And we are not at the end of the year yet. Who knows what else this winter will bring? I need a place to vent. BAD.
I’m in a phase where I don’t enjoy fluffy or depressing dramas. Flourish in Time (我和我的时光少年) fits my need for sweetness without the toothache and angst without the spite. At first glance, this seems like yet another childhood sweethearts in high school drama, which it is. But the characters’ relationship is more complicated than meets the eye, and the show’s lighthearted wholesomeness is laced with a tinge of bitterness.
I gave kudos to the show for not having a comically stupid female lead. Lu Miao may not excel at studying but she is no study slacker. She is just a regular high school student with her priority not quite in the right order. But no worry. Jiang Haoyue keeps her on the straight and narrow. The guy excels in school. If he is not studying, he is helping Lu Miao with her studying. Those who study together, stay together.
But I’m not here to watch bunch of kids studying. I’m here for Jiang Haoyue’s angst. The guy may look like a model high schooler but he is “slightly” broken physically and psychologically. Lu Miao is what kept him intact. And I’m a sucker for characters with codependency issues.
I am a fan of supernatural stories. I despise zombies with a passion, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything else within that genre (disgusting looking ghost maybe not as much). Recently, I’ve been watching quite a bit of Korean dramas with Nine-tailed fox as the main character. I like them but I wish the stories could expand beyond the fox’s infatuation with short-life humans. This is the moment I miss Chinese supernatural dramas the most. When will their supernatural ban ever going to be lifted??? I’m tired of all my supernatural creatures being re-imagined as space aliens, alien-plant hybrids, alien this alien that. Anyway…
I decided I should write about Nine-tailed fox (九尾狐), a mythical creature that enjoys popularity throughout northeast Asia. The book Classic of Mountains and Seas (山海經), written between 475 BC – 200 BC, had three entries for it. They all basically said the same thing: There is a beast with four legs and nine tails living on Mt. Qingqiu.
Another three hundred Li to the east is a mountain called Qingqiu. It has jade on its south side and azurite on its north side. It also has a beast that resembles a fox but has nine tails. It barks like crying baby. It eats people. Those who eat it are protected from evil illness.
~ 《山海經 • 南山經》 Classic of Mountains and Seas: South
Visual representations of Nine-tailed fox throughout the ages
There was no mention of superpower or shapeshifting. That came later.
Jealousy comes in a variety of forms. The Chinese word for romantic jealousy is associated with a taste and it is very sour. That is because people are said to be “drinking vinegar 吃醋 (chī cù)” when they are feeling resentful that their lover is paying more attention to someone else. So how did vinegar become an euphemism for jealousy?
Back in the early Tang Dynasty (yes, that dynasty again), Emperor Taizong needed to secure the loyalty of his fledgling court so he rewarded his supporters with beautiful women. Since having concubines was an acceptable practice back in the days, his men went home pretty happy. All except his Prime Minister Fang Xuanling who refused his reward citing angry jealous wife. Mrs. Fang basically declared, “No way in hell will I let my hubby get a concubine.” The standoff got so bad the Emperor force the wife to choose between drinking a poisoned wine or accepting a new concubine. The wife said, “Well. Y’all just have to walk over my dead body,” and drank the wine. The wife didn’t die. Turned out, the wine was just regular vinegar. And the Emperor admitted defeat.
Ever since then, “vinegar 醋 (cù)” or “sour 酸 (suān)” are often used to describe the feeling of jealousy. So the next time you watch a Chinese drama and a character is labelled as a “vinegar bottle,” you now know they are saying he/she is a jealous lover.
Last year, I watched quite a bit of detective dramas set in the Chinese Republican Era (1912-1949). Dream Detective (潜梦追凶) was by far the best. Although their cases were not even remotely inventive, their characters grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. While I might disagree with their choices, I knew where they were coming from and understood why they were doing it. The characters felt real to me. And, there was no cheesy bromance or cringey romance in it. Thank you very much.
The show got me right away by how the future co-workers first met. I love their fighting choreography.
I’m not saying I loved the show right away. It took me a while to see the male lead’s appeal. ‘Cuz I’m not into a disheveled alcoholic hobo who didn’t bat an eye when stealing another person’s identity to advance his own agenda.
In 2020, we saw the ineptitude of our government leaders in all their glory (I’m glad we are finally getting new ones this year), the selfish individualism that spread a contagious disease far and wide (I’m sorry for the healthcare workers who are now burnout because of these people), and the tsunami of job losses because our government, our citizens, our business owners refused to adapt to the new reality.
Let’s not hope that 2021 will be better or be back to normal. Let’s hope that we have the courage to face and the flexibility to adapt to any adversity that come our way. Let’s hope that this year we will be better.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. But here I come 2021!
There are three possible explanation for a man-made tunnel inside a tomb: Air vent, escape route built by the tomb workers, or hole dug out by the tomb raiders. The odds of it being an exit is 2 out of 3. But a natural tunnel created by volcanic air bubble guarantees nothing, especially when there is a sign outside the hole that warns, “Hundred ‘yin’ beyond this point no man has returned and seen the light of day.” Ominous, much?
I bust out laughing when Fatty proclaims he doesn’t believe that BS warning, BUT, he would err on the side of caution because he’s with Wu Xie, who is a known supernatural magnet. If some supernaturally bad thing is gonna happen, it will happen on Wu Xie’s watch.
Nobody messes with Wu Xie’s 2nd uncle, Wu Erbai. His word is the law. Although he is no mafia boss, there are plenty of freelancers who are willing to kill for him for free. Backtracking. We live in a civilized society which does not condone lawless behaviors, and Mr. Wu is a law abiding businessman. With that said, there are plenty of people who are willing to pay or do “things” for him in exchange for one of his copper sticks. Each stick grants one user one favor within one year. In ep2, the Huo family asked Wu Erbai to arbitrate a business competition between them and Xue Wu.
In the novel, Wu Erbai is a very intimidating character. He can unravel an entire scheme from a single clue. He can predict your next 10 moves by your first step. While he is not all-knowing, he intuitively knows how all the pieces fit together. Because of this ability, his assessment is always on the mark. And people come to trust his judgment to be fair and impartial. The drama asked us to accept him as this influential power broker without elaborating on what made him so special, which is a pity. Anyway, knowledge is power. And 2nd uncle has plenty of both and leverages them to “resolve” his client’s less than legal problems.
For a man who can see through any intrigue, it frustrates him greatly that his no good brother, Wu Sanxing, was lured into “something” by “someone” but, for the life of him, he can’t figure out for what purpose. So instead of sitting on the sideline and watching his rebellious nephew get caught in the same flytrap, he takes over Wu Xie’s operation. He is going to find out who is pulling Wu family’s strings.
Reunion: The Sound of Providence (重啟之極海聽雷) is love. Not only are all my favorite characters united once again, they are played by actors who make them feel real. (I’m not going to mention names but I cringed so hard watching Explore with the Note.)
Zhu Yi Long and Chen Ming Hao are literally Wu Xie and Fatty Wang from the book. Huang Jun Jie also fits well as the post-bronze gate Zhang Qiling.
Seeing old friends makes me happy. So is making new ones. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy Liu Sang, Bai Haotian and Huo Daofu’s storyline. (I’m up to Ep12 of Season 2.)
Love in Between (少年游之一寸相思) is a Wuxia drama about the trial and tribulation of a frail doctor, a face-changing thief, a charismatic intel broker, a cult leader’s son, a bandit’s daughter, and a pair of goody two-shoes martial art sister and brother. The takeaway of this drama is that comet sized crapizoids always strike on wedding days. Just kidding…Or am I?
It’s been a while since I felt so invested in a CP, never mind all the main characters in the drama. I usually roll my eyes when lovers make grandiose proclamations of rainbows, unicorn and love forever. But for this drama I prayed to the drama god for a happily ever after.
Besides a good heart-wrenching romance, the most important part of any Wuxia drama is its fighting scenes. They can’t legitimately call themselves Wuxia if the actors can’t fight looking sharp and smooth. (I’m looking at you, The Legends.) This drama I approve.
Love in Between has the basic Wuxia tropes: Hidden identity, fake identity, identity crisis, power boost thru energy transference and/or secret martial arts manual, framed for crime you did not commit, your master killed your whole family, and of course, the good old revenge mission. I applause this drama for doing them so well.
But for me, it’s their love stories that I’m addicted to; Seeing the characters sacrificing or being sacrificed for their choice. As one character poignantly put it, “It doesn’t matter what the truth is anymore… Life is but a series of choices. You didn’t choose me and I don’t blame you. But it was YOU who pushed me to the alter. And it was YOU who made me someone else’s wife. So goodbye and don’t come back.”