All right then. A birthday. Twenty-eight years old today. I will spare you any maudlin reflections on the subject. But. Last year was my first birthday in Winnipeg in five years and now this year I’m here. I timed it so this would happen. There’s no point in messing up a perfectly good tradition, you know? Once every five years is about right for a party.
Yesterday we watched the Kun Ju again and it was better than last week. Of course, it was a paid performance, so maybe they put their more finely honed things on then. It was only a third of the way full, though the smaller crowd did include such luminaries as Don Snow (of Turning Bricks to Jade fame and who wrote the Amity Chinese learning book we initially used upon arriving in China), the bored old Chinese man to my right who couldn’t stop yawning, and a little girl who followed the fluttery hand motions on stage with her mother’s guidance. She was utterly confused by Shi Jen [no idea how to spell or pronounce her name], Cheryl’s Korean friend who knows no Chinese, at least not to speak it.
The stories were different than last time too. No martial arts epic. No old man selling his sister to his brother. No emperors. The first story was a monologue by a naughty nun who wanted to escape her abbey. It was frustrating because (though I realize realism counts for not a goddamned thing in opera of any sort) the character was a 15 or 16 year old girl complaining about her shaved head and ugly old nun clothes while the actress’ costume is all blue silk with Fo characters on it and he hair goes down below her ass. Plus the fact of the makeup. Because it is so elaborate (white face, swooping pink eyeshadow and rouge) I can’t stop seeing her as a 50-year-old woman out on the street trying her best to look young/attractive through face-plastering. I guess a little bit of verisimilitude in art is necessary even for me and my flights of fancy. Cheryl and Holly were talking about being enraptured with the story [not so much in this episode, but the third one] while I could only find distractionary nits to pick.
After that was a comedy about the “widely known” Lord Someone of Ying Yang who’d been left behind by the Lady Yaxian and he was traipsing off through the woods to find her when he has to stop at an inn and pawn his worthless old cap to pay for his stay. It was pretty broad comedy with the innkeeper. I liked the innkeeper’s makeup which focused attention on his face inwards like it was all pinched up or like he was a fox. That guyy would have plaed the poop stealing fox dressed up in white gloves perfectly. Then was a scene of a woman reading from the Peony Pavillion, which is a story of a woman who loves a dream man and dies and then when this man actually exists he sees a painting of her and falls in love and exhumes the body and brings the corpse back to life. None of that happened onstage. What did happen was a woman read about it and whined about the rain and how there are no good dream men anymore.
After the Kun Ju we wandered our way back to Xin Jie Kou and then home. On the way we passed a two-kuai shop. Everything inside 2RMB/each. Not quite everything but far more met the proclamation than at your tpical dollar store. Shi Jen bought flash cards for children’s Chinese. Holly picked up a thermos thing with a cork stopper and an extra mug. No, wait, the mug was a gift from Cheryl. I bought a Chinese Chess set and two of those stainless steel balls for rolling around in your hand to keep the chi flowing. The kind of thing old people play with while they circle sportsfields backwards. I’ve wanted a couple of these for a long time but the only ones I’ve ever found to buy have been all ornate with yinyang symbols and fake ceramics and bells on the inside in a cheap little clasping case. These ones are just heavy reflective steel. I quite like them. Common people use these and am I anything besides common?birthday cheryl woelk holly kun ju nanjing peony pavillion the hangman xinjiekou