Monkey in the Middle: The (Nearly) Indefinable Monkey King

I love tricksters, and possibly my favorite is Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空), the Monkey King. Recently, I got to read Professor Anthony C. Yu’s annotated and revised English translation of Journey to the West /Xīyóujì (西遊記). Seeing the original Monkey King in all his mischievous glory just made me fall in love all over again. His larger-than-life personality is instantly recognizable in every story he appears in. At the same time, however, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven is incredibly difficult to pin down identity-wise. Is he a god or a demon, a mythical being or a novel character? Or maybe he was always meant to be constantly outside the lines. Since the Hong Kong version of his festival was on the 22nd of this month, I thought I’d post a celebration of this quirky hero’s slippery nature. Here’s to you, Marvelous Monkey King! Continue reading “Monkey in the Middle: The (Nearly) Indefinable Monkey King”

Lessons from Dinotopia…Unless It’s the Mini-Series: Review Take 2

All right, here’s round 2! In my first take on reviewing the Dinotopia mini-series (DMS), I focused in on a few close-ups. Now I’d like to frame my discussion with some lessons that I took from James Gurney’s books and the related novels. Because those lessons are why my anger at DMS has lasted so long. Dinotopia was among the first books I practiced reading, and some of its maxims still guide my actions today. Gurney created a richly detailed world laced with creative hope. DMS bulldozed through that vision to pave a simple road, and not a particularly good one at that. If the filmmakers didn’t want to be true to that world, they should have called this “Carl and David in Dinosaurland” instead of pretending it was Dinotopia! Continue reading “Lessons from Dinotopia…Unless It’s the Mini-Series: Review Take 2”

Really a “Terrible Place”: Dinotopia, the Mini-series: Review Take 1

I’m finally ready to trash—er, review—the Dinotopia mini-series. For this review, I’m going to try a slightly different format. I won’t be sorting things into spoiler and non-spoiler because as far as I’m concerned, that show is totally rotten and I am NOT recommending it. I do apologize for including some spoilers from the books by James Gurney and the related novel series, but they were necessary for context. Now, I have a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t watch the mini-series (let’s call it DMS for short), but since I know rants get old fast when they’re too long, I’ll take two approaches to this topic. I’ll start with some quick-fire coverage of a few topics that drew my ire or amusement. Next post will use some of the lessons I took from the Dinotopia books to frame my disgruntlement at DMS. Now, let’s get down to it.

Continue reading “Really a “Terrible Place”: Dinotopia, the Mini-series: Review Take 1″