Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 15 2002

I spent most of Friday after work down at the Guan…

I spent most of Friday after work down at the Guang-hua Market on Ba-de Rd. It’s easy to get ripped off down there, but if you’re careful you can find some decent bargains. Usualy when the vendors see a non-Chinese face they jack the prices up, so you have to make sure the clerks know they’re dealing with someone who knows his way around. I narrowed down my picks for a new monitor to an Eizo, Mozo and Samsung, but the shops closed before I was able to make up my mind, and I walked home, once again monitor-free, and experienced the novel feeling of reading a book before bed instead of doing anything computer-related.

The next morning I settled on the cheaper of my trio of choices, the Samsung 171T, over the larger and heavier Mozo as well as the more expensive Eizo. Luckily they had some in stock, and I had it up and running in no time at all. Suddenly my desk is twice as large, and I have to say the colors and contrast look great. I had to reinstall Jedi Knight II to use the new drivers, but otherwise it’s been great so far.

That afternoon I went over to the Chungking Mansions Taipei again to have another look at the room, this time by day. The group of shirtless men were still playing Mahjong next to the spiral outside stairwell, but this time I was greeted with a noxious cloud of cooking exhaust coming from the apartment across the hall. It vanished when I got inside the apartment, but damn! I’d have to remember to avoid coming or going during eating hours if I lived there. The place seemed smaller in the daylight, but at least there is lots of light coming in the windows. I still like it and hope I can move in there. Ann still hasn’t told her landlord she’s moving, though, so who knows what will happen.

I was sitting on the sofa drinking grapefruit juice and chatting with Ann about her weekend plans when Little P called. He had just woken up, after getting in to town late last night. Apparently leave was a close thing for him this week, as he had been caught either sleeping on guard duty, smoking on guard duty, or some combination thereof. We met up at his place and went to the West Gate District to see Men in Black II, but the line at the Guobin Theater spilled out onto the street. We retired to Friday’s to escape the heat as Little P called his brother to see if he could get tickets for us online. No luck, so after a meal we went to another theater and waited in line, sucking on melon bars to cool ourselves off. An Italian guy named Gino joined us there. Gino seems to be here studying Chinese, but I couldn’t be sure because we didn’t talk much.

The movie was entertaining, but seemed to be more about reminisnance than actually telling the story. It ended just as I was wondering when the third act would begin, yet another sequel made just because people thought it would be cool to have a sequel and make even more money. Michael Jackson’s cameo was funny, and the spit rap scene between Will Smith and Biz Markee was hilarious, but the movie itself seemed no more than bells and whistles.

After the movie we wandered around the alleys looking at the wide assortment of clothing/jewelry/whatever available in West Gate. Little P knew the owner of one of the shops, a portly little guy with 80s-esque dyed-blond hair. He made several references to Little P’s apparently wild past, and showed us the tattoo on his shoulder. I was going to buy a hat from him to replace the Mao hat I got on the mainland and then lost, but at NT$500 the denim version seemed a little steep.

We had been browsing around Tower Records for a bit when Gino declared he was whacked and went home, and Little P and I went back to his place, where his friends were playing on the PS2 they had brought over with them. We played until the wee hours of the morning, and when I realized that these guys weren’t going to stop until at least daylight, I bowed out and went home. Little P had a bus to catch back to Kaohsiung the next morning, in any case.

Mindcrime came up on Sunday, but I had already made plans for brunch at the newly rennovated and now 86%-more-barlike Jake’s Urban Renewal Kitchen, where we discussed the play. They’re bringing in a ringer to play Rick, so I will either have an accessory role or just heckle the other actors. At least I won’t have to devote that much time to it, or let my hair grow out for the part.

Dean and I met up with Shirzi and Peter in the bamboo grove for sword practice at around 5. It was a lot cooler in the shade, but soon enough we were sweating pretty heavily, and mosquitoes swarmed around my ankles, which were unprotected as I was wearing my tevas. We started out in the usual fashion, stretching a bit, running, basic stuff. We started to do more free-form fighting, and Shirzi then introduced us to the two-on-one attack, where one person fights two people, one on each side, but in turns. I was really into it. Too into it, I suppose. I took it relatively easy on Dean, but for some reason I felt I could go all out on Shirzi. It felt a bit like the final lightsaber fight in Jedi, when Luke just loses it and cuts off dear old Poppa Vader’s arm. I was trying every trick in my (admittedly small) book o’ tricks.

It was the first time I’d ever seen Shirzi pissed off. He ended the fight abruptly by blocking one of my attacks so forcefully with his broadsword than it cut my sword in half, a large section of my blade just barely missing Shirzi’s head as it spun away. There was an awkward silence, and I felt everyone staring at me. “I’m sorry, that was my fault,” I said. Damn, I thought, my dark side’s showing again!

Shirzi was his normal, mellow self again within a few minutes, but I’m not sure what he was really thinking. He’s leaving Taiwan on Friday, so this was our last class together. Not the best way to remember our swordfighting, unfortunately.

Dean, Shirzi and Peter went off to DV8, but I had Taijiquan practice at 7, and I didn’t want to be late again after being warned once. I needed time to think about what had just happened anyway, and going through the slow forms is a good way to calm down and reflect. Afterwards I made my usual trek back to the Nanjing East Road MRT station, listening to old Chinese love songs on the radio as I looked for alleys I’d never walked down before.

But now it’s Monday. I’m back in the office, and I need to make a decision on a publisher here. It’s a tough call; on one side I have the small, eager company that has been very cooperative, and on the other I have the larger, better-known company that probably has more connections, but also publishes a lot more books and might not pay as much attention to the project. Not being experienced in the ways of publishing, I find it hard to judge which would be the better choice. I need to decide soon, though. Eenie Meenie Miny Moe…

posted by Poagao at 3:16 am  

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