Saturday, October 04, 2003

only a small turd this evening

HAPPY KAE CH'EON JEOL! Friday is (or was, since it's now Saturday in Korea) "heaven opening day," or Tangun Day-- a national holiday to celebrate Korea's mythical founding. The character "kae/gae" means "open(ing)"; "ch'eon" is the character for "sky" or "heaven" (the Chinese T'ien); and "jeol" is closer in meaning to "season" than "day." Think "time" as in the English expression "Christmastime," where "time" is understood to mean not just a single day, but also a season, or holiday, or something like that.

Hominid face-eating nastiness update: the apocalyptic battle for my face isn't over yet, and now there's something in my left armpit, some familiar redness and bumps and itching. Hee hee. Lovely. Just when I thought things were getting better... But see, the rash (whatever it is-- bacteria, fungus, virus, contact dermatitis, God-smiting) made a critical mistake when it decided to leap into my armpit, because nothing that leaps into my armpit ever comes back out. My armpit will kick this thing's ass.

I should also note that I've begun acting like a leper, with this crap all over my face. I no longer like making eye contact and prefer to move around at night. It's very strange... as I think about the process, it occurs to me that people with visible ailments often feel that the world is somehow shunning them. That's not how I feel: I feel, right now, like I'm shunning it. It's sort of cool, in a Phantom of the Opera kind of way, but also extremely annoying. I want this to be OVER with by the middle of next week.

My brother is back at the office & his other job at Polly Esther's. His rented SUV in Taos was OK, as it turned out. While at the Ski Valley, he ended up doing the climb all the way up to Wheeler Peak-- did it the hard way, too, taking the short, steep route that forced him to use all fours to reach the top-- and the footing wasn't all that great, from what I understand. Scary. If I go, I'll be taking the slower, longer route. So I can walk.

Am still compiling re: NK. I haven't forgotten; it's just going to take a while. If anyone else wants to join in with the research, go look at my list of questions in that post, send me an email to tell me what you'll be working on, and have a blast.

Meanwhile, we'll note that Washington is yawning at NK's latest announcement. A yawn may be appropriate, whether NK is lying or not. If it pisses the country off, that's good. I think Powell should have actually laughed into the cameras, then said, "Until such time as they see fit to perform a test detonation, everything they say is complete bullshit." But Powell's very polite. Some see this as a liability. Maybe it is. I don't know.

Arnold and Hitler... hmmmm. If the book proposal is true, and if Arnold did say those things about Hitler, he does have some explaining to do, but it should all be of the "I'm no longer that person" kind. And maybe it wouldn't hurt, as a PR gesture, to ask forgiveness of the public, to get them involved in the disowning of past mistakes.

Rush Limbaugh and drugs... heh. Republicans are at their most vulnerable when they're acting moralistic. Bill Bennett? Henry Hyde (and his "youthful indiscretion" at age 40-something)? Rick Santorum? I won't be following this story, though; Rush has never interested me that much.

China to have its manned launch, uh, soon.

The PC-bahng I'm in is currently host to a drunk guy who slipped out of his chair and has been sitting dazedly on the floor for the past ten min-- whoops, he's getting up now. He's leaving under his own power. I think the fucker was faking drunkenness to avoid paying.

Animal rights activists don't always think through their measures. I give you: CANNIBALISTIC MINKS! Yes, it reminds me of Mork from Ork tossing an egg into the air and screaming, "Fly! Be free!"

My residence has apparently turned into a fortune telling business of some sort. There's a new sign above our main gate that features a Buddhist swastika but also advertises services associated with fortune telling. Given the syncretic nature of Asian religion, I'm not surprised to see Buddhism mixed up in this (and it's exactly the kind of thing some of those Beliefnet Buddhists just don't get). Will report on this at greater length later.

My other thought for the evening is once again about calligraphy. I'm starting to draw some very nice Bodhidharmas. Quite a few stillborn creations, but some of them are lively-- even scary, which is a good thing. Bodhidharma, an Indian monk, is considered the First Patriarch of Zen Buddhism. He's also the legendary founder of Shaolin kung fu. A lot about Bodhidharma is legendary, come to think of it, but if he existed, he would have lived around the fifth to sixth century CE, about 1100-1200 years after the Buddha. The Chinese have practically made him into a Taoist priest; he's often portrayed as having miraculous powers indicating oneness with Tao. A famous brush painting depicts him crossing the Yangtze River on a reed-- the kind of power associated with Taoist priests and sages, who could walk through fire or leap from mountaintop to mountaintop, or hitch a ride on the wind (kung fu movies are making reference to these powers, just so you know).

I always suspected Jesus stole that walking-on-water trick from somewhere.

Ah, yes-- calligraphy. I want my Bodhidharmas to look sort of funny. Many artists go for an overly serious look, in which ole Bodhi is very stern. Here's one look at him:

Bodhidharma 1

Nice tits.

Here's another:

Bodhidharma 2

Here's a Bodhidharma that's fairly close in style to what I'm doing:

Bodhidharma 2

It's a close-up, and it's got the big-ass eyes. Bodhidharma reputedly spent nine years meditating (some say in a cave, some say in a temple, some say at the foot of a cliff; all agree he was staring at a wall of sorts), and to avoid falling asleep, he ripped off his eyelids. Further legend has it that the eyelids hit the ground and sprang up as tea plants, which is how tea came to China.

Many Bodhidharma images share common traits: the guy has a bald pate, but he may have horseshoe-pattern baldness. He's got long, pendulous earlobes-- the mark of the Buddha. Wild eyebrows. He may have a huge earring in one of his ears. He's often bearded, but the beard varies from Johnny Depp wispy to Santa-on-Steroids bushy. As already mentioned, the saint's eyes are generally large. His expression is usually stern or even ferocious, not to indicate constipation (mustn't confuse the First Patriarch with that other great [and truly constipated] religious founder, Martin Luther), but to indicate focus and determination. Bodhidharma's robe may cover his head or not. It may be expressed concretely/realistically or abstractly, through a couple strokes of a thick brush-- I've taken this route in my brushwork. But aside from these basics (and even this list has exceptions), anything goes.

One thing I've never seen, though, is a screaming Bodhidharma-- mouth open, teeth exposed, tongue flapping à la "Simpsons" characters. Perhaps such images exist, but I've never come across them. I want to make one just for kicks. It'll never sell in Korea.

You have to be in a weird frame of mind to draw Bodhidharma with a brush. The potential for mishaps is very high-- runny ink on highly absorbent paper leads to splotching, and a single mistake means the work is ruined. Just this evening I ruined three Bodhidharma images that started off great-- got through the facial features, drew the robe... then messed up the Chinese characters: blotchiness from too much ink in one case, too little ink in another, and poorly aligned characters in a third. But I'm getting there. And my Bodhidharma's evolving into a particular style, like a Chinese character with which I'm becoming familiar. I've decided to stick with bold strokes, since that seems to be what I do best. The subtle stuff was OK (I was adding wispy trails to the big guy's beard), but it's not me. No wussified Bodhidharmas to be found here. When you (finally) get to see what my drawings look like, you'll see a Bodhidharma who looks capable of punching a hole in a cow. WITH HIS MIND.

Oh, yeah-- my Bodhidharma's got HUGE eyes. Not quite this huge:

Bodhidharma 2

... but huge nonetheless. And scary. Scary like the male Enterprise crew members in the old "Star Trek" TV series, who spoke their lines quite seriously while wearing pretty heavy eye makeup. Spock in particular was somewhat frightening, but Kirk had his Eddie Izzard moments, too.

OK... it's late and I need to go wash myself down again. Damn, this sucks. Be happy you're over there and I'm over here.

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