Monday, February 27, 2006


I feel compelled to add that I still wear black. Or as many of my children have commented, "You like to wear black clothes." or "Your shirt is black and your socks are black, and your hair is also black, and your eyes are black, and your pencilcase is black, and your shoes are black."

More joys of teaching english

So today, a seven year old girl almost fell asleep in my lap while singing "The Hello Song" in class. Oh friends from college if you could only see me now.

Spending so much time around kids is also making me feel old. I kind of want to be irresponsible while I still have the chance.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More stories from teaching English

So on Saturday, I made a sarcastic remark to one of my junior high students, Ken, to touch his "boyfriend" otherwise known as his friend John, later. Usually remarks like this elicit a frantic denial. However in this case, a pretty undescribable look crossed his face, and he very deliberately put his arm back around John, and said, "He is my boyfriend." Later I forget why, but I referred to Ken as John's boyfriend, and he said, "No, he's my boyfriend. I'm his girlfriend." I said, "John, your girlfriend is very beautiful."and Ken said, "Thank you." All this from an eighth grader.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tristan and Isolde

Recently I saw a trailer for the Tristan and Isolde movie. If one is trying to set the mood for a period piece about what looks like pre Norman Invasion Britain, I could think of better songs to play during the trailer than Evanescence's "Going Under." That's just me though.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


There's nothing quite the same as the satisfaction of cleaning your bathroom at 11 at night and then having it finally relatively mold free and clean. Also I killed two mosquitoes in two days. Score, Mosquitoes 4 bites Me 2 dead mosquitoes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle

So today, I rented Howl's Moving Castle and watched it. I actually really liked it a lot. I had read reviews that said it was lesser Miyazaki.

For those of you who haven't seen the film, it takes place in an alternate World War I style Europe. Actually a time period vaguely reminiscent of Otomo's Steamboy. However, rather than fantastical steampunk-esque devices, Howl's Moving Castle has wizards and witches as well as the ubiquitous elaborate zeppelin devices of almost any futuristic Miyazaki film. The story centers around a young woman named Sophie, who doesn't seem to get much joy out of life. However this changes when she encounters the wizard Howl and is then transformed into an old woman. As an old woman, she manages Howl's household and falls in love with him.

Most of Miyazaki's movies have fairly strongly recurring themes. Respect for nature, kindness and nobility, as well as being very strongly anti-war are pretty much in all of his films. Also, his movies center around young female heroines. Also most of his heroines are more or less the same both in appearance but also in basic underlying values. Kind to strangers and protective of people who are smaller than them. It's been a theory of mine that the Miyazaki heroine type has been gradually maturing.

Also, the Miyazaki hero has undergone a real transformation. Miyazaki heroes have always been more of a foil for the heroine. They're also not particularly interesting and are generally used to propell the story along. For example, the heroes in The Castle in the Sky or Kiki's Delivery Service. Any love between the main characters is the unspoken, pure, prepubescent kind. However, recently in Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, declarations of love are made outright. Also the heroes of both films are mysterious and ambivalent characters that require saving. I'm not sure what this means exactly but the themes of these films seem more mature to me in some ways than Miyazaki's earlier films.

Another character type that is frequently encountered in Miyazaki films is the old woman. Sometimes evil and generally irrepressible. This type of character can be found in the Pirate Queen in Castle in the Sky, Granny in Totoro, and possibly the most ambivalent and scary, Yubaba/Zeniba in Spirited Away. In Sophie, the young heroine and the old woman are combined in a way that's pretty interesting. Sophie actually has to be old before she's young. It's probably the only cartoon I've seen, whose main cast consists principally of old women. Sophie, Suliman, and the Witch of the Waste are all major players in the story.

Howl's Moving Castle actually combines the young girl with the old woman and makes them one character. I'm sort of curious how his movies will progress as he continues to make them.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More clouds

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Ershawan Fort 4

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Ershawan Fort 3

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Ershawan Fort 2

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There's a fort that I found by walking up a hill in Jilong called Ershawan. I think it's even more impressive than the other fort that I've visited here. Posted by Picasa


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A Road

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A tunnel

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Another one

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The town of Jiufen, I suppose, or perhaps something else

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There are still

the ruins of the mines in the hills. Posted by Picasa

The sea

There was a part of the park where you could hike out to a cliff overlooking the ocean. So that's what we did. Posted by Picasa

So I'm clearly obsessed by this hill

Because there are five or so pictures of it. Posted by Picasa

Mining Machinery

Which looks like something out of Miyazaki or possibly Otomo's Steamboy. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Crown Prince's Residence

Apparently the Japanese imperial family had a house up here. I forget if that's what I saw or that was the mine owner's house. Posted by Picasa

An open letter to the man who fishes in the canal by my house

Please, for the love of God, stop fishing there! It smells like a sewer and the fish you're trying to catch are carp which are bottom feeders for Christ sake. I hope for your sake that you're just catching fish for fun and then letting them go. However, when you bring a cooler, I start to suspect it's not just for your bait. Just don't go selling them to any restaurants.

Something I have learned from teaching english

Never trust a kid with a crew cut. Any kid who looks like his father cuts his hair is usually trouble. Nor should you ever trust a child whose hair stands straight up.

There were

these little pavilions in a row. I sort of wondered what they were for. Posted by Picasa


Heather and I went to Jinguashi, which is the site of a gold mine up past Jiufen. It's now called Gold Ecological Park, with tickets for admission and a very ritzy gift shop. However, there's also some spectacular scenery. I took more pictures here than I did during my entire vacation. Posted by Picasa

In the back

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Every garden

in Taiwan has fish, but there were some motherfuckers so big that I could have saddled and rode them. Posted by Picasa

The Garden by the National Palace Museum

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On the bus

I had nearly forgotten, on the bus back to Gaoxiong. They showed the long and interminable movie, Van Helsing. Our bus ride was so long that we still had a long way to go when the film ended. But anyway there was a little girl who was watching it pretty avidly and she would periodically turn around and summarize 20 minute episodes of the movie for her parents in Chinese. Actually, I prefer her version.