Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Celluloid Heroes

At loose ends and in medical and employment limbo now, I've picked up some freelance editing work from China, specifically a last minute, rush job editing Chinglish synopses for an "ethnic minorities film festival" in Beijing.

For those who've been in China awhile, the movies are no surprise.

It's an effort to showcase the "benevolent ethnic diversity" policies exercised by the Chinese Communist Party/Han majority regarding the official 50something "ethnic minorities" living there, largely the (troublesome, sensitive) Tibetans and Muslim Uhygurs.

Minorities in general are still publicly showcased as "colorful," "warm-hearted" simple and naive folks who like nothing better than to sing or dance in their "traditional native costumes." Kinda like the happy Negroes and Indians in the US before the Civil Rights Movement.

There's also the obvious simplistic political propaganda angle in these flicks, particularly the ones after the 1940 "Liberation" when as late as the mid-50s movies were still being made about nefarious anti-CCP "spies" (all named "Mr XXXX") thwarted by earnest minorities with the supreme aid of Han comrades.

I've mucked my way through nearly 60 by now and believe me, most end with someone crying with joy despite losing loved ones who frequently fall off cliffs.
Submitted are a few samples for your enjoyment

08、Mongolian Ping Pong (Mongolian)
Production: Kunlun International Film & Media (2005) Color
Script writer: Ning Hao
Director: Ning Hao
Photography: Du Jie
Starring: Huricha Bilige, Dawa, Geliban

When Bilige finds a mysterious white ball floating in the creek, he picks it up. It feels a bit hard and also a bit soft. It is a little transparent too. What is it? Is it the long lost Night Pearl of the grassland? Bilige and his two friends start exploring the secret of the white ball. Grandmother at her spinning wheel recognizes it as the Night Pearl, while on the screen in the open air, the white ball also becomes a golf ball…

After these encounters, they finally learn that the white ball is called a ping pong ball and it is a "national sport!”

So, like legendary heroes they decide to return the ball to the State. They start with great dreams towards the east where the sun rises. After they fail to return the ball, they then disagree about who it belongs to. Their fathers get the boys together and solve the problem using traditional Mongolian friendship -- dividing the ping pong ball in half.

13、The Turpan Love Song (Uygur) Color
Script writer: Zhang Bing
Director: Jin Lini, Xierzhati
Photography: Mulati M
Starring: Aziguli Rexiti, Mulading Abulimiti

Anaerhan, a beautiful, vigorous young tour guide, is good at singing and dancing. One day, she is robustly performing for tourists when she receives a call from her brother.

She runs to the road and stops the guests who are going to make a marriage match for her sister, Kangbaerhan. Her moving performance persuades them to go back home.

It turns out that her 34-year-old sister still loves her ex-boyfriend Kelimu, who is an armed police officer and always away from home living in an army tent. On the way back to the city on the travel agency bus, Anaerhan comes across an emergency where Kelimu is repairing the road and a reporter is holding Kelimu’s son, Tuerxun, who is mute following a sudden car accident.

Kangbaerhan hardly meets Kelimu again when she dies of leukemia. Anaerhan understands her sister’s love and happens to know that Tuerxun is an orphan adopted by Kelimu. She takes him back home and formally announces that she will be his mother. Her mother, Halike also understands her daughter’s kindness and treats Tuerxun as a grandson.

During an accident, Tuerxun loudly shouts: "Grandpa!" and later with his restored language ability takes a cup of water to Anaerhan, saying, “Mama, have a drink…” which moves Anaerhan very much.

In the fall, Anaerhan enters the armed police camp and the soldiers stand up and call for her brother-in-law as she bursts into tears.

001. Victories in Inner Mongolia (Mongolian)
Production: Northeast Film Studio 1950 Black and White
Script Writer: Wang Zhenzhi Director: Gan Xuewei Photographer: Du Yu, Li Guanghui
Starring: Yun Cun, Bai Dafang, En Hesen, Fang Hua

During the Liberation War, a Kuomintang spy named “Mr. Yang” sneaks into a banner (an Inner Mongolian military unit) in Inner Mongolia, conspiring with his assistant Tusulageqi to dethrone Prince Daerji in order to collaborate with the Kuomintang government.

At the same time, Su He and Menghebarter are delegated by the district government to establish a Communist democratic regime in the nomadic area. Menghebarter’s younger sister Wuyunbilege, and Dundebu, Prince Daerji’s herdsman, are lovers, but cannot marry because of obstacles set up by the prince.

Dundebu hates Han people and suspects Menghebarter of betraying his own nationality. But after conveying the Communist Party’s ethnic policies to Prince Daerji and Dundebu Su, He wins their trust, and his protection of Dundebu’s mother in a rain storm further dissolves Dundebu’s hostility.

Mr. Yang, hiding in a Lama temple, commands Tusulageqi to go to the Kuomintang Commission to deploy troops for aid and Dundebu is angered when he sees Wuyunbilege being molested by Mr. Yang.

Soon the nomadic area is surrounded by danger. A gang of troops sent by Tusulageqi kills Menghebarter as he rides away for aid. Tusulageqi urges Dundebu to assassinate Su He, but Dundebu discloses the plot to Su He.

Mongolian-Han joint troops led by Su He arrive as the Kuomintang troops march into the prairie.

The Kuomintang troops are wiped out, Dundebu catches Mr. Yang alive, Tusulageqi is arrested and Prince Daerji stands at Dundebu’s side as he joins the People’s Liberation Army while the crowd cheers.

002. People on the Prairie (Mongolian)
Production: Northeast Film Studio 1953 Black and White
Script Writer: Hai Mo, Malaqinfu, Li Guanghui, 特•达木林
Director: Xu Tao Photographer: Wang Chunquan, Fu Hong, Li Guanghui
Starring: Wurina, En Hesen, Chao Lu, Shu Hai, Zhang Juguang

Sarengewa, an Inner Mongolain herdswoman mutual-aid team leader honored as a Model Worker for two consecutive years, is in love with Sangbu, another mutual-aid team leader.

Mr. Baolu, a spy, plots to destroy the mutual-aid teams by persuading Sarengewa’s father Ziyire to quit the team.

In a snow storm, Mr. Baolu cuts a rope on the herd fence and releases sheep and horses. In her effort to save the animals, Sarengewa falls off a cliff with her horse, but luckily Sangbu comes to her rescue.

After the storm while Sarengewa is vaccinating injured animals, Baolu poisons a well killing more than 20 sheep and blames it on Sarengewa. At the Model Worker election some complaints are raised about the dead sheep incident on Sarengewa’s team.

After the meeting, Sarengewa sees Mr. Baolu acting suspiciously on a hill slope and finds the prairie on fire. She rides through the smoke to catch Mr. Baolu and the League Chief joins others in extinguishing the fire. With the help of Sarengewa and Sangbu, the police round up a handful of spies, including Mr. Baolu.

At a Model Worker awards meeting the League Chief commends Sarengewa for her great contribution to the prairie.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Singing the blues

My new situation is taking some adjusting and a slow mental toll. I initially figured I'd be here three weeks, max, and now three months seems optimistic given the unexpected cancer diagnosis.

I'm family and houseguest both in a home where I feel often like a social anthropologist observing my sister, her husband and their 18-year-old son interact - "N., the graybeard alpha male whose interests center primarily around Youtube, Facebook, drug legalization, Argentinian tango and the 'stupidity' of politicians and religion quietly affirms his authority, while A., his long-suffering mate and primary source of hunting-gathering currrency exhibits occasional distress regarding 'working, going back to school, doing the taxes, their son's college applications, the laundry and the grocery shopping list...' Their offspring, M., seems however unusually well-adjusted and much like Jane Goodall's first breakthrough physical contact with a chimpanzee, he and I have bonded over the Keef Richards autobiography."

Meanwhile, I'm trying not to interfer with the daily routines and rituals but also knowing my presence is affecting a delicate choreography the three had long established before I dropped \like a disease ridden freeloader into their daily lives.

Then I got an e-mail from a Chinese friend in his 50s whom I've known since I first arrived in Shenzhen. He and I had been exchanging thoughts on our situations; his American wife and mixed race daughter have both abandoned him for the USA and he's also had some ongoing health problems.

Here's a recent one. It all kinda put my situation in better perspective.

Last month one of my friend's wife try to introduce her close friend to me after she learns that I am single. My friend lives in Fuzhou and we know each other for years. I do not know too much about his wife. They both are in their second marriage. It is not my friend's ideal, so I ask him to let me talk to his wife in phone. I am older than both of them, They are in their forty something.

First she keeps telling me how good is her girl friend, who is over 40 but still looks like in 30 ......
Then I told her, since I am your husband's good friend. I have to tell you all the truth,

First of all, I have no money, no saving, no house under my name, no property.......)
(this statement destroy the first line)
To knock the second wall, I continue

Second: My health is in a shaky condition, I have to take high blood pressure medicine every day, My neck spine has problem, the connections of my neck spine will lose the right position to cause balance problem and I will pass out from time to time.

I did pass out 2 times. Pass out will not kill me, but the sudden pass out will result in an accident. The first time is 2004, after the first pass out, I can't even stand up to walk, I can only sit there and move around very slowly, If I try to walk then I can't keep my balance. After a week, the phenomenon is gone.

When I passed out in front of (my wife), it scares her to death. She thought she is losing me. At beginning, I do not know it was caused by neck spine. The phenomenon just come and go all the time for years.

I also did not pay attention on it. It is like driving an old car. You know the old car has problems all the time, so I just did not feel well all the time.
Until one day, the phenomenon came back so I check in a small hospital to get a IV. It happens that the Dr. has nothing to do so he spent more time on me. After his serious check, he told me, "Maybe your neck spine causes the problem, not the middle ear, ( for I thought it was the middle ear has problems for years)" so I took x-ray.

The pictures shows is normal problems.
According to western way, I should have a surgery. It is risky and I can't afford it for I have no insurance and never have.

The Chinese way is to use a needle to penetrate into my neck to some extent and shake the needle to hurt me. The more hurt I got , the more cure I have. It will just last a few seconds. How much pain you can take it, it depends. Then Dr. will pull out the needle and press a vacuum cup to suck the blood out from the needle hole. To take how many needles. it is all up to you. He will charge the same any way.

To make my money worth so I always take the most I can take. Of course, if you are in a weak condition, he will not give you so many needles. Usually I will ask at least 5 to 6 needles.

After the needles and sucking some blood out then I feel much better immediately, The pain and the pressures on neck decrease a lot , even my eyes can see more clear. Then he puts a few band aids on my neck, It looks ugly.

This is not a hospital place, this guy works in home, A small apt in a village. this village is full of young hookers. Every thing is illegal in the village. the hookers are illegal business, the buildings are illegally built and the treatment is illegal too.
At first, I went once in a week for about 6 times. Now my condition is under control, because I know the pass out is caused by neck so I know how prevent it.

I stop going there, first, it is too expensive, he charges 200 RMB for every visit. if I want the needle in other place, he will ask more.

Second, he is an old man, his hand is not steady. I worry if he can hold the needle good every time. what if he miss and neck is a very sensitive place.
Now I go to the official hospital to get the therapy, they do not use needle, they press my neck . The treatment is not so effective as the needle but it is more safe and cheaper. Every visit is 60 RMB. Now I just have to watch my neck and if I do not feel well, I go to the hospital at once.

Except the neck spine, I continued telling her, I have to wear a mask to sleep every night, the mask connects to a air pump machine.Because I have the sleep disorder. It is sleep Apnea. I do not know it is CSA or OSA , any way, I have to wear the mask to sleep.

The most terrible thing I am afraid of is no power. If the electricity suddenly be turned off, I will be forced to wake up for no air. What if I can't wake up again. Remember my nose surgery, it does not work so I still have to use the machine to get to sleep.

There are other small problems, I do not bother to tell her, I only have 2 teeth left on upper jaw. I had 5 teeth pulled last year from upper jaw. I just have a new denture with 13 teeth on it after new year. It only cost me 1007 one thousand and 7 RMB. This is a killing price, no one believe it. Any way, next time I meet you, I will open mouth to smile to you.

Most of the time my dick is in coma. Of course I will not tell her .
After my confession, she become speechless.

I am thinking, if I give the story to Opera, her reaction will ask every one to pray for me.
So I would rather meet Jerry Springer, he will give me something to rock hard.
The other problems are too small to mention it.

No one wants to stay in a sinking boat. I have no life insurance, no property....., every day life looks like a ugly picture. under this condition,Of course (my wife) and (daughter) want to leave. No one wants to sink down with you, it is normal and acceptable.
This is my attitude: My loneliness and sadness are not shareable.

On the other hand, their departure is a relief to me. I am sad but easy.
One morning a moron called me, he wants to threat me , ( the other way is to say you win the lottery). In the phone, he threaten to against my family then I began to laugh , laugh very loud.

That is the best part of my tragedy. I have no fear already.


At least I have all my teeth, no needles in my neck and legal cheap medical care, though hookers might be nice... Others have urged me to get out and meet people but lacking a car and job at the moment, I'm not really feeling like prime socializing material, though I've worked out an honest opening line.

"Hi! I'm Justin. I'm here for colon cancer treatment at the VA and living with my sister. I'm unemployed with dwindling savings and dependant on her and my marginally employed bro-in-law for transportation! Wanna do lunch sometime?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Back in the USSA

To condense a long story, I came back to the USSA for hernia surgery at the Syracuse VA hospital (my sister lives here so I can stay with her and the VA is good, not like in "Born on the 4th of July") but was urged to undergo some other tests that "men and women over 50" should do and I hadn't and it turns out I have colon cancer.

Who knew? I didn't - no symptoms, overt, at least - which is a good thing as it is still in early stages I guess. So I wont start shopping for a designer virgin Spanish calf skin Rolling Stones colostomy bag yet.

Anyway, Im gonna be here for a few more months at least with stints at another va facility in fabulous Albany for chemo and radiation etc. My unintended tour of upstate NY continues...

At least there are good herbal connections here so I can use those to stave off the nausea. No medical m here.

And I didnt have to undergo what is literally called "an occult blood test" - no idea what it is but it was briefly mentioned and I imagined a dark hooded and shrouded "Balthazar, Lord of 10,000 Demons" coming into the examining room with candles to shove a crucifix up my ass while reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards or something.

So it well and eat lots of fiber, my friends.