Archive for October 2008

我虽死去 (Though I am Gone)

Yesterday, the documentary “Though I Am Gone” was shown at my school as part of a series of Chinese documentaries called Reel China. A brief summary of “Though I Am Gone”:

In August 1966, the Red Guards’ violent phase of ‘The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ spread from the educational sector to all other social circles. Within this month of ‘Red August’, Beijing alone saw 1,774 people killed. Bian Zhongyun, Vice Principal of the prestigious Beijing Normal University Girls Secondary School, was the first victim beaten to death during this month of terror. The film draws upon photographs of Bian’s death taken by her husband, Wang Jingyao, eyewitness accounts from courageous interviewees and broadcast footage from the period.

The documentary has been put up into ten parts on Youtube, the first part is here:

Video credit goes to Layla1968

The documentary has Mandarin Chinese audio and English subtitles. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.

(Just a note, when the version of this documentary starts up, they say the title is “Though I Was Dead,” which is the literal translation of “我虽死去”, but the more poetic/metaphorical English translation is “Though I Am Gone.”)

This is the most depressing film I’ve ever sat through. I couldn’t really wrap my head around. Wang Jingyao is the husband of the first victim of the Cultural Revolution and he did something quite remarkable: he documented his experience of the Cultural Revolution through film photography. He photographed his wife’s corpse. He photographed his kids cleaning off their mother’s dead body before preparing her for her funeral. He photographed all that he could during this tumultuous time because he felt it was important for someone to document all that China was going through. He kept all the original notices distributed by the government. He kept all the letters he sent and received during this time. He also kept all articles of clothing off his wife’s back the time she died, bloody and muddy as they were.

I was really touched after I watched this. I don’t think the audience that watches this documentary should get away from it that China was disgusting, that Communism is wrong, or that Chinese people were uncivilized, barbaric mass murderers. I quote from Maurice Meisner, author of “Mao’s China and After”,

These macabre comparisons are offered not as revolutionary apologetics but only to maintain some degree of historical perspective on a matter that does not easily lend itself to either moral complacency or moral outrage. In most revolutionary situations, the choice is not between terror or its absence but rather between revolutionary terror or counterrevolutionary terror; and since China had suffered so greatly from the latter over the decades, one should not be too quick to levy moral condemnations on the former. As Barrington Moore has observed, it has been the case that “revolutionary violence has been part of the break with a repressive past and of the effort to construct a less repressive future.”

“Fox News actually accused me of fathering two African American children in wedlock.”

Could…McCain be any more fake-amused?

“Even FOX News disputes it, and that doesn’t happen very often when it comes to accusations about me.”

Alessandra Stanley writes,

“Barack Obama looked like a prosecutor delivering a polished summation in a long civil case, Joe the Plumber v. George W. Bush.

John McCain was closer to a personal injury lawyer, staring into the camera to address “Joe the Plumber” as if he were standing by with an 800 number. (“If you or a loved one has been wronged in an accident …” or in this case, in an Obama tax bracket.)”

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I was tense as hell during the conversation on negative campaigning. Highlights of that from the NY Times transcript:

SCHIEFFER: We’re going to move to another question and the topic is leadership in this campaign. Both of you pledged to take the high road in this campaign yet it has turned very nasty. Senator Obama, your campaign has used words like “erratic,” “out of touch,” “lie,” “angry,” “losing his bearings” to describe Senator McCain. Senator McCain, your commercials have included words like “disrespectful,” “dangerous,” “dishonorable,” “he lied.” Your running mate said he “palled around with terrorists.” Are each of you tonight willing to sit at this table and say to each other’s face what your campaigns and the people in your campaigns have said about each other?

MCCAIN: Well, this has been a tough campaign. It’s been a very tough campaign. And I know from my experience in many campaigns that, if Senator Obama had asked — responded to my urgent request to sit down, and do town hall meetings, and come before the American people, we could have done at least 10 of them by now.

OBAMA: The notion, though, that because we’re not doing town hall meetings that justifies some of the ads that have been going up, not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations, well, I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks.

I mean, look, if we want to talk about Congressman Lewis, who is an American hero, he, unprompted by my campaign, without my campaign’s awareness, made a statement that he was troubled with what he was hearing at some of the rallies that your running mate was holding, in which all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like “terrorist” and “kill him,” and that your running mate didn’t mention, didn’t stop, didn’t say “Hold on a second, that’s kind of out of line.”

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A full transcript and video of the debate is up at the above link. 19 days left ’til election day. Ah.

Today, I

Got more books in the mail. Yes, more Mao.

Went to Staples to grab some stuff and came across this! So cute.

Also got these. Gah.

And realized I had a problem. (I’m sure I have more hidden elsewhere in the house.)

Moosic reviews

Epik High – Lovescream

This mini-album is really chill. There’s the same lonely-sounding music in this mini-album that has become Epik’s trademark. It makes me imagine that this is the kind of music you hear when you’re underwater. There’s a an eery sort of peace and tranquility.

Not to downplay Epik High’s creativity or sound, but as I am with all their other work, none of these songs are songs that I would listen to on repeat unless I’m in a certain mood.

1825 (Paper Cranes):

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Tohoshinki – 呪文 -MIROTIC-

The Japanese version of Mirotic is so hideous I don’t even know what to do with myself. It’s all choppy, has no flow, the rap EATS MY EARS, and it’s just…so hollow. The remix version of “Doushite” is really bland because it takes away the distinct quality that made the original so nice, which is the harp. Not sure if “Doushite” is the kind of song you can remix successfully, not because the original is just that good, but because there are elements in the song you shouldn’t tamper with, or else you throw the whole song out of whack.

So basically, this single is moot. The only thing I really enjoyed is the instrumental version of “呪文 -MIROTIC,” which is rare because I never listen to instrumentals or usually think they’re pointless. But this song’s instrumental sounds like it would be a good insert to some sort of action movie during a casino / scaling-down-the-walls-avoiding-lasers scene.

呪文 -MIROTIC- (Less Vocal):

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YMGA – Made in R.O.K.

My head is already doing all kinds of spins upon realization that “YMGA” stands for “Young Men Gangsta’s Association.” I was semi-coerced into listening to this because of somebody showed me the music video for “Tell It to My Heart.” The first two songs (“Get Up,” “Scandal”) sound really sleazy and I ended up not paying a lot of attention to them. “Tell It to My Heart” is such a guilty pleasure song. I wish Uhm Jung Hwa were a stronger vocalist because then the song could’ve been a lot better. But I enjoy it as is, despite it being a remake. “What” is the best off the EP, especially during CL’s lines, but like the rest of the mini-album, it doesn’t stand out and blends nicely into the background when I’m not paying attention.

Tell It to My Heart:

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