Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Revenge of Judge Dee!

You may remember that last year, I pointed out that famous director Tsui Hark was supposed to be working on a movie about Judge Dee, legendary Chinese magistrate and famous minister. Judge Dee is the best known legendary magistrate-detective in the West, because he also became the hero of a classic series of magistrate-detective novels by that eccentric Dutch diplomat, musician, scholar, and… um… bon vivant, Robert H. Van Gulik.

Anyway, it seems that Judge Dee will get his Tsui Hark movie. Shooting has started in Hengdian, and so it’s only a matter of time. The movie stars Andy Lau as Di Ren Jie. Carina Lau is Empress Wu, who calls the exiled Dee back from the wilds to solve a series of murders that’s delaying her accession. There’s also the empress’ maid, who knows martial arts, military man Commander Bei, and the Ghost Doctor, master of disguise.

The Chinese title is Kingdom to Heaven. The current English title is Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Sammo Hung is choreographing the fight scenes.

This is so cool! And the bit about the rags costume sounds like Judge Dee will disguise himself as a beggar or a poor medicine peddler, which is just like the stories! Yay!

This website has some very nice pictures of Judge Dee stuff. It also claims that the reason Dee worked with Empress Wu was to be in position to restore the Li clan to power and found the Tang Dynasty. Well, that’s a nice theory to run with.

Also, it says that at the beginning and end of Chinese opera, a red-robed, white-masked actor often appears, who stands for Judge Dee as a deity in charge of prosperous careers and quick promotion, and who symbolically blesses the audience. This silent role is generally translated as “the God of Fortune”, and he does “the Promotion Dance”. Hm. Interesting. There are apparently a lot of Chinese gods who get called gods of fortune, though maybe the career thing sets him apart. Even the guy from Three Kingdoms is a freakin’ god of fortune.

This brings up an interesting question.

The graves of Judge Dee and Judge Bao and so forth are known, because they were real people in history. However, they were deified back then by the government and people, and are still apparently worshipped by many. (And apparently personal monotheism was no protection from popular deification, as Judge Bao may have been Jewish and Hai Rui was certainly Muslim.)

So what would the proper procedure be, if you visited their graves and wished to pray for someone who is deified by some, without giving the impression you supported praying to them as gods? I realize this isn’t something likely to affect me personally any time soon, but it’s a situation that could easily come up in today’s global society. There must be standard procedures for Chinese Catholics in China, but they aren’t known to me.


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Ground Bean Flounder – YUM!

There’s a relatively new Chinese restaurant over by my parent’s place; it’s called Tsao’s Cuisine. It does pretty good business during its buffet hours and during the university school year. (It’s right down the road from Wright State.) It also apparently has attracted the loyalty of our local police and fire guys, as I saw a contingent of them in there during buffet time.

But beyond its small but interesting lunch buffet and its standard but interesting menu, this Chinese restaurant has an extra feature. It has… dum dum dum… daily specials!

Imagine a marker board full of Chinese characters spelling out the names of dishes, with a few translations in English scattered here and there. Hmm. Hmm. What could they be? Do you remember any of the characters from Japanese class? Are they any good? Knowing that contemporary Chinese food from China is quite different from Chinese restaurant food, and that the spices and cooking styles are not what you’re used to … do you dare?

I went over there late on Saturday afternoon with my gaming buddies. And that board of daily chef’s specials called to me. What was the stewed beef brisket like? Heck, what was the beef tripe — anything like menudo? What were the untranslatable things?

Finally, I made a decision. Ground bean flounder. Fish sounded good. And my timid side thought that surely, fish and beans were pretty safe. Nobody could do too much to fish and beans, right?

Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. This dining story had a happy ending. Ground bean flounder is not just safe. It is AWESOMELY DELICIOUS. Where have you been all my life, ground bean flounder?

The taste seemed pretty simple. It was just a crusty topping made of chunks of “ground bean” — ground-up soybeans, that is — pepper, and some little chopped challots, on a nicely cooked filet of flounder that was sitting in a little butter. They served it in a Sterno-warmed dish, so that it would stay nice and warm until I finished. I managed to finish about 2/3 of the flounder and rice. The rest I ate this afternoon, cold out of the refrigerator. It was still NOM NOM NOM.

And here is the wonder of the Internet — a recipe for home-cooked ground bean fish! What I ate was almost totally different, though, because my flounder was not cooked in actual ground bean sauce. (I’m sure that’s good, too.) Korean cooking grinds up soybeans also, but they do it with water to make a paste. Mine wasn’t a paste or wet sauce at all.

My topping was mostly dry and appeared sort of the consistency of a peanut topping, except with lots of pepper to make it red and spicy and a tiny bit of oil holding it together, but it wasn’t really hard like ground-up peanuts. It tasted very fresh, so probably the restaurant ground up the soybeans themselves.

In this country, soymilk is pressed out of ground soybeans, and soy flour is made out of the dry parts. So you’ve probably eaten plenty of ground beans. Just in conjunction with lots of other ingredients.

Anyway, it was different but certainly good. I would love to try more of Tsao’s Cuisine. Cuisine is exactly what it is, and you don’t even have to dress up or pay a lot of money. (And apparently, there are a lot of darned good tripe dishes in Chinese cooking, so there’s something to try if I ever see it again.)

Here’s a nice post on the history of that area, which shows the location of Tsao’s Cuisine on one of the maps.

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Ancient Trumpet Makes a Come-Bach

The lituus, an instrument that survived from Roman times until about 300 years ago, has been reconstructed from its range and used to play a Bach piece written for it.

You can hear the music over at BBC News.

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Korean Telenovelas

Many South Korean TV drama series are currently available over on Crunchyroll, and some of them look pretty amusing. No guarantees, since I’m not up on South Korean TV.

I Really, Really Like You: Good-hearted girl with a strong country accent becomes a chef at the Blue House (South Korea’s White House). Girl meets the president’s cute son, who’s also a doctor, and tangles with a cute curmudgeonly member of South Korea’s presidential bodyguards. Ugly Betty meets The West Wing.

Jumong: Historical soap opera presents a fictionalized version of the life of the unifying king of the Korean kingdoms.

Who Are You?: Dead father tries to set up his daughter with a husband by temporarily possessing a businessman for three hours a day. Did I mention the businessman has OCD like Monk? Boy, you sure don’t get this kind of plot in the West!

General Hospital: This’d be the South Korean one.

Prince Hours, aka Palace S: There was recently a very successful South Korean drama, based on a comic, of a royal romance in a world where modern South Korea was still a kingdom. That one was called Palace (Goong) or Princess Hour, and threw an ordinary Korean teenager into the world of the royals via a betrothal arranged by their grandparents but unknown to both parties. This one is yet another alternate world, which theorizes a South Korea ruled by an unmarried, childless empress. After her heir is killed, she decides to take in and train a new one who’s an extremely remote relative making a blue collar living — in noodle delivery! But it’s a constitutional monarchy, where the empress’ actions are closely hemmed in by the government and her royal clan. The rest of the clan backs a young nobleman who’s responsible, but perhaps a little too sheltered. Which one will become the next emperor? (The first 4 episodes are in messed up order: watch 3, 4, 1, 2.) The first episode features “best gratuitous use of Celtic music soundtrack while making Korean Chinese food” and a noodle delivery race.


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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Apparently, the 2009 Catholic New Media Awards have announced the nominees. Aliens in This World was nominated for “Most Entertaining Blog”, and my Maria Lectrix podcast was nominated for Most Spiritual Podcast.

Well, color me stunned. Thank you to whoever nominated my blog and podcast.

Now let’s find out if this blog supports .png graphics.

Catholic New Media Awards

Apparently, some sort of voting apparatus will open to you on June 1 and run until June 30. I don’t know if you have to register to vote or what, but I guess one can find out on June 1.

PS – I forgot to thank Ines for spotting the nominations. Kai the sharp-eyed reader!


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Dom Nguyen’s Elegy for His Mom

Dom Nguyen’s mom died recently. He usually writes rants for the Megatokyo webcomic’s website, but this week he shared his elegy for his mom instead. I figure the fannish and Catholic blogosphere might like to see it.

This is how it begins:

Any conversation about my Mom will inevitably segue into the same kind of story. The story will start with ‘The first time I ever met her, she gave me….’ and end with any number of gifts, ranging from cookies fresh from the oven to a squash the size of a small child. It didn’t matter who you were, it didn’t matter where you came from, and it didn’t even matter if she remembered your name. My Mom welcomed everyone the same way – with an open smile, a friendly greeting, and a surprisingly large parting gift.

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RSS Use Annoys Me

Actually, I’m fine with RSS. If people want to play around with automatic download files, I’ll give them to them. I don’t see much point myself. Every time you trust a computer to download something automatically, you will be sorry. I speak from experience. Computers need supervision like a toddler with a flamethrower.

But if you have a podcast, how annoying is it to pretend like there aren’t any mp3 files involved? (SQPN, I’m looking at you.) Every time you want to download a single podcast, like any reasonable creature, you end up clicking around and around and around, desperately searching for an .mp3 extension. But no. There are audio players and more audio players and websites, but no .mp3 anywhere.

Finally, in total frustration, you click on the RSS feed — which contains a link to an mp3 file! But then it tells you the mp3 file is 0 bytes.

It is lying to you, fortunately. There really is a file there.

I guess the point is “raise our subscription numbers, or we’ll make it really really hard to find the file”. And I shouldn’t complain, because it used to be that you couldn’t even get the file on RSS. Of course, this prevents you from downloading stuff that’s more than a week back.

As for iTunes, I’ll consider it when I can see it, and find out its effects on my machine, without downloading their evil Apple Programs Of Death. (And yes, I’m still bitter about your stupid movie program freezing my 386, Apple.) If my podcast works or doesn’t work on iTunes, I will never know except by the stats.


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