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What is a “fan”?

It doesn’t matter what medium or form of entertainment/amusement/learning you adhere to.  Everyone is probably a fan of something.  But there always seems to be varying grades.  There are fans who buy tons of things related to the series, fans who have a casual interest, and many other categories.  But one of the most frustrating things to see is hatred of certain fans.  Many times, a dominant group will chide another for being part of the casual crowd.  If someone becomes interested in a series like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek, they may be criticized by someone whose been a fan for nearly their entire lives.  I understand that some people are considerably versed in a topic, but we shouldn’t ostracize others who are still willing to learn, even at such a late stage.  I myself only became a fan of the under-appreciated video game Earthbound last year.  Yet I find it rather heartwarming to see such a devoted fan community.

Encourage, but don’t force.  Invite and they shall learn more.

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Thoughts on “Write In Taiwanese”

Ah, the 2010 census (okay that video was a year old).  But I think it’s interesting to hear the various oppositions to the “Taiwanese” ethnicity.  Among the most common arguments is that aborigines aside, the people who call themselves “Taiwanese” are really just Han Chinese immigrants.  Therefore, they shouldn’t be confusing people.  But what is Han Chinese? China’s history is wracked with mythical depictions such as the “perfect” successions of each dynasty, and the Han people being descendants of the Yellow Emperor. At one point, the Qing dynasty considered everyone in their territory to be One could argue that the so-called “Han-Chinese” ethnicity is already extremely mixed biologically speaking, and such designations are subjective.

So what is ethnicity?  Genealogy?  Culture?  Truth to be told, there’s not as much of genetic diversity amongst humans compared to others species.  Judging by physical features and genetics is only one part of categorizations.  Thus, it would be more culture that would distinguish us.  Yet Taiwan still preserves what would be considered authentic “Chinese” culture by many.  But there are other countries that are heavily influenced like China.  Japan, Korea, and Vietnam all borrowed from the Chinese, yet remain very distinct.  Taiwan may have retained some of that culture, but it’s also developing a newer one.

Another thing to take in mind is exposure to culture.  While race is heavily linked with ethnicity, they are not the same.  An American born Chinese will most likely know less about Chinese culture than an European whose lived in China their whole life  Other overseas Chinese may have no problems recognizing themselves as Han Chinese as a designation.  That is fine.   But they’re not necessarily culturally Chinese, and that makes a difference.

Ultimately, it should be the person who should define their identity.

 

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阿甘正传 review/ Forrest Gump

簡體字

电影可以有永远 的娱乐性。 最新的电影不见得比老片好看。 一部像想这样的影片是  “阿甘正传” 或者 “Forrest Gump”。 一个1994 的片子。 已经过了十七年,但是,我还推荐每个人来看。 现在,我觉得这个片满影响人

阿甘正传是讲一位小男孩比他同学笨一点。 也不能用他腿.  他最好的朋友就是Jenny, 一个小女孩。 两个人长大的时候就闹翻了。 Forrest一直都很乖。 可是他朋友慢慢心碎。  我们电影主角让我们完全沉浸在里面。 我们电应别的人物喜欢找借口不要负责任。 阿甘一直不放弃。 他用自己的办法解决困难。 除了人物以外, 故事也满有趣的。 因为电影场景在1960-70’s, 阿甘看到历史影象,像JFK, 被开枪杀死,见尼克松,帮人做有名的发明。 最好笑的是他不知道做的事是那么重要。

人物,故事, 场景, 跟音乐,都满克回忆的。 但是,电影也有坏处。 有一点长,从阿甘小时候到当爸爸。 有的人物的角色不够清楚,来一下下就走了。 方那么多人物应该有比较仔细的背景。 多半来说, 电影好看。  我愿意再看一次。

繁體字

電影可以 有永遠 的娛樂性。最新的電影不見得比老片好看。一部像想這樣的影片是“阿甘正傳” 或者“Forrest Gump”。一個1994 的片子。已經過了十七年,但是,我還推薦每個人來看。現在, 我覺得這個片滿影響人

阿甘正傳是講一位小男孩比他同學笨一點。也不能用他腿. 他最好的朋友就是Jenny, 一個小女孩。兩個人長大的時候就鬧翻 了。 Forrest一直都很乖。可是他朋友慢慢心碎。我們電影主角讓我們完全沉浸在裡面。我們電應別的人物喜歡找藉口不要負責任。阿甘一直不放棄。他用自己的辦法解決困難。除了人物以外, 故事也滿有趣的。因為電影場景在 1960-70’s, 阿甘看到歷史影像,像JFK, 被開槍殺死,見尼克松,幫人做有名的發明。最好笑的 是他不知道做的事是那麼重要。

人物,故事, 場景, 跟音樂,都滿克回憶的。但是,電影也有壞處。有一點長,從阿甘小時候到當爸爸。有的人物的角色不夠清楚,來一下下就走了。方那麼多人物應該有比較仔細的背景。多半來說, 電影好看。我願意再看一次。

 

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Protagonist? Or just unnecessary focus?

It’s been about a year since I’ve done a Tv trope related article, so here it is…

Generally at the center of every story, no matter what the medium, is the protagonist. There’s always the character that is the focus of the story.  This isn’t necessarily the nondescript, bland narrator, or the epic hero.  At its base, this is simply the character for which the story is about.  So of course, you have to make them worthwhile.  Because the protagonist is, well… the main character of the story and the one who you place your empathy upon, it’s not surprising for him/her to receive a bit of popularity.  However, the opposite often happens: some characters end up only receiving prominence because they are the main character, and nothing else.  For example, I think Liu Kang of the Mortal Kombat series is an intriguing guy.  A bare-fisted messiah monk who has the fight the forces of evil.  Oh and can turn into a dragon.  But I don’t think I’d pay as much attention to him if he wasn’t the protagonist.  A major reason for this is his lack of distinctive flaws.  Liu Kang is a pretty upstanding hero, and he doesn’t possess too much character other than being a pinnacle of goodness.  It’s understandable why Sub-Zero, Scorpion, or even his archenemy Shang Tsung would be more popular as their antiheroic or outright villainous traits make them more lively characters.  The same “protagonist syndrome” happens with Ryu of the street fighter, or even Mario. As playable characters, I’d use them but they’re not particularly fleshed out as characters.  In video games, this is partially justified because the developer wants you to step in their shoes.  But if that’s the case, then let me design my own damn character. Regardless,  I try to force myself to like or at least relate to each protagonist of a work.  After all, a story matters as well.

Recently, I wondered to myself, whether I truly enjoyed certain characters, or only bothered with them because they were the protagonist.  But I realize this is not the case. In the harem genre of male-demographic manga, we almost always have a relatively bland male protagonist who happens to attract several females (and maybe some males) through certain virtues.  This is often either sheer kindness, wholesomeness, or honesty.  It’s pretty obvious that the male protagonists are supposed to be stand-ins for whatever male comes to read it.  Mangaka seem to think that showcasing the attractiveness of various other characters excuses them from fleshing the very characters that the story is centered around.  No we don’t want the see him get the crap beaten out of him every chapter or episode, because of some random perverted misunderstanding.

If you’re a TV tropes reader, this phenomena is known as Designated Protagonist Syndrome.  Sometimes, it’s not the main character’s fault, just that the others are more interesting.  The reasons often vary, from the protagonist taking up too much spotlight (yes it’s possible) to the point where the other protaognists or supporting characters are left undeveloped.

If you ever choose to make a protagonist, it shouldn’t be a case of fighting for spotlight.

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Book Review: Catch-22. Dark-humored, Cynical, Yet rather touching

JUMP!!!!

Probably the main reason I touched upon this novel was because it was for school reading.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Catch-22 is one of the most “quirky” and intriguing novels I’ve ever read.  Though, that’s not really saying much, considering my aversion to reading complex novels.  Compared to the Scarlet Letter or Huckleberry Finn, it’s set a lot closer to our time.  And it’s not a novel that’s only interesting because of Sparknotes and other analyzing sites.    While it’s still about sixty years off, the ideas and themes conveyed are still very powerful.  Joseph Heller’s most well known novel drew attention away from his other works, but it’s not without good reason.

The protagonist, or “hero” of the novel is the Air Force Bombardier Captain Yossarian.  His primary motivation through the course of the story is self-preservation.  And who could blame him?  There seems to be little motivation for risking lives other than to show an example of heroic sacrifice.  His main opposition is the ambitious Colonel Cathcart.  In order to impress his superiors, he continually raises missions which only prolong the pain that Yossarian and the other officers of his squadron endure.  Since the events in the novel are in anachronistic order, we get glimpses of the present and past events.  Yossarian is revealed to be more brave in earlier parts of his combat duty before a gruesome event changed his life.  There are a great deal of characters, but only a few get much development.  Or focus that covers more than one chapter.  We see the multiple motivations, forces, and decisions at work; profits, military power, idealistic future lifestyles, etc.    For example, Yossarian’s close friend Milo Minderbinder may seem nice, but his drive for making profits has repercussions for others.  Meanwhile, Yossarian’s absentminded friend Orr irritates and endears Yosarrian and seems to consider him his only friend.  The idealistic Nately, the fun-seeking Dunbar, parading Lieutenant Schieskopff, innocent Chaplain, and many others serve as the “ragtag group” that we come to love, or despise.

Yossarian is selfish but relatable, and compared to many other characters, a moral center.  He’s aware of the atrocities that the war creates and eventually develops deeper reasons to pursue his self-preservation.  Even though the war is near its end, the fighting is still very much a reality; soldiers are losing their lives relatively easily while manipulative officers remained unharmed and concerned for their own reputation.

In a sense, the novel’s setting is like 1984.  Military officers continually strive for more power.  The main rule of the story that controls everything is Catch-22, a ludicrous, horrific, indescribable policy that allows officers to have their way.  The first example is the method of  getting taken off combat duty.  To quote the novel, “You have to be insane to be taken off of combat duty.  You can’t be taken off the missions unless you ask.  But If you ask, it proves that you’re sane, thus ineligible for being grounded”.  But even though the antagonists are only human, there’s nothing that can be done.  Because Catch-22 isn’t set in a futuristic(relatively speaking) dystopia, it’s arguably even more frustrating and cruel.  There’s some deliberate exposition that’s voiced in a humorous fashion, or points are reiterated.  Deja vu to be exact.  Things that may initially come across as humorous take a darker tone in later parts of the novel.  It is admittedly a fairly long novel, with events scattered all over.  It will probably take a second reading or a deeper discussion to truly appreciated Catch-22.

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Run for a decade, laugh for a lifetime…with a tiger by your side

Even fifteen years after its conclusion, Calvin and Hobbes remains one of my favorite comics of all time.  I remember first coming across it first grade.  My sister had bought three of them from a book fair at school.  Yet it took me several years before I could actually appreciate its humor.  While I tended to read Garfield more often, maturity made me see how profound the childhood comic was.  Eventually, I began to appreciate the slapstick, sarcasm, variety, and exploration of childhood adventures.  Whether it’s from the far-fetched imagination of Calvin, the mundane aspects of school, to the father’s dry commentary on life, I always finding myself, at the very least, smiling at what I read.  Year after year, Garfield employs some of the same “Act like a jerk, torture my owner and other animals, talk about food, etc.  Calvin and Hobbes employed newer ideas and issues in order to keep things interesting, while keeping the characters with their iconic traits.  While I often wonder why Bill Watterson would end the series after only ten years, i realize that it was a decision that was inevitable.  People move on to other interests and it was fun while it lasted.  If Calvin had continued his adventures, we would take it for granted as just some kid performing his shenanigans.  If it continued, we might grow to hate it as a franchise zombie.

Calvin and Hobbes really incorporates so many different ideas;  it is as much about adult struggles as it is about a child going through certain stages in life.  It is a commentary of American culture at the time, with some not-so-subtle criticism.  For example, there is a strip that depicts a office man being killed by a group of anthropomorphic deer.  Calvin pokes fun at the fact that humans justify hunting as “population regulation.”  Bill Watterson clearly puts in a lot of thought, effort and insight, but it’s important to remember that he’s mainly expressing his own opinions.  And as such, though we may disagree with him, we cannot necessarily criticize him for expressing his opinion.

Surprisingly (or not), I can relate to Calvin, despite the fact he never ages.  While he does have lots of destructive tendencies, he’s a surprisingly insightful boy who may be encouraged or tormented by the society that he lives in.  It makes him an endearing protagonist despite his outright sadistic nature in certain instances.  Various instances show he truly is intelligent, but by the system’s standards, he’s dumb.  Even less developed characters like Mrs. Wormwood are fairly sympathetic; strict as she is, Wormwood is just a teacher whose trying to do her job.  The parents in the strip initially come off as designated villains, but despite Watterson’s insistence that they’re just Calvin’s parents, they’re surprisingly complex.  No adult is truly free of their inner child, and sometimes they’re not much different than the kids they try to discipline.  Calvin’s Dad enjoys riding his bike, and considers it a possible alternative to his job.  Meanwhile, his mother is implied to have been just as much of a hassle as Calvin in her youth

And of course, we cannot forget the other titular character, Hobbes.  Tigers are also among my favorite animals, but that’s not the only reason he’s awesome.  He provides an interesting foil to Calvin, while also keeping a similar destructive nature.  Quite deliberately, he can be the most intelligent character in serious moments, yet feral in the next.  The deliberately ambiguous nature of Hobbes’ existence is a source of contention among fans, but I like it that way.  You could argue that he represents Calvin’s sensible side, or that he really is a talking tiger.  It’s a comic, so there really are infinite possibilities.

It’s this kind of series that elicits so many emotions.  It’s quirky, imaginative, and immortal.  To quote several people I respect but cannot think of at the moment, it’s the kind of series where you finish it, forget about it, only to rediscover and experience another plethora of emotions.

“It’s a magical world, ol’ buddy!”

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Taiwan; Reunification and Independence

Chinese Pride using force

This summer, I have been living in Singapore, a country that is somewhat similar to Taiwan;  It shouldn’t be too surprising as Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea were known as the four asian tigers, four areas where economic growth boomed after World War II.   Like Taiwan, Singapore has a majority Chinese population, is fairly advanced, clean, and ahead of its Southeast Asian neighbors.  Singapore’s diversity got me thinking;  If Singaporeans consider themselves Singaporeans first, and acknowledge their ethnic backgrounds second, it shouldn’t be wrong for Taiwanese to do the same.  Ever since 1949, There have been tensions between China, and “breakaway province” Taiwan, or more specifically, between the Kuomintang and Chinese Communist Party.  In the 2000’s, Taiwan government entered an isolation period with China due to the new DDP party.  2008 marked a turning point for the Kuomintang.  As times changed, the KMT and CCP found they had the mutual goal of reunifying China.  It was simply that they disagreed on who would control.

Well, what about the Taiwanese people?  Yes, you could argue that they have roots in China, so therefore, the people are a part of China and Chinese culture.  I’m sure many Taiwanese acknowledge that they have Chinese roots.  Does that mean that they consider themselves Chinese citizens?  Taiwan is an island of rich cultural background, with the portugese, dutch, Chinese, and Japanese influence.  While I am all for better relations between Taiwan and China, it seems inherently wrong for either KMT or CCP to claim Taiwan as a part of China when there’s more to its history than simple Chinese influence.  However, in the end, whether Taiwan gets reunified or not, it is most important that the people do not think in terms of ethnicity, but as people of a country.

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