Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

In the library today I mentioned something about the Top 40 and pop music, and my colleague, Angelica, didn’t know what I was talking about. She’s Chinese, which might explain some of it, but I then mentioned the Beatles as an example, and she knew them. She actually had to look it up on the net to get a better idea. I asked her what music she listened to, and she said country music. This feels like some kind of paradigm shift. I have to rearrange my thinking about what I assume other people know or don’t know. It reminds me of the time I was working as a barista and my co-worker, a young woman, didn’t know and hadn’t heard before the song playing on the radio at the time. It was Yesterday by The Beatles. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

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The woman in question

Also whilst in the library, I was doing some shelving and looked across at a patron sitting at a table near me. She was a young Asian girl absorbed in her phone. Thing is, she looked like a dead ringer for a younger Blackpink Jenny. I was gobsmacked. She had reddish-tinged long dark hair and was wearing a stylish off-the-shoulder pullover (literally, one of her shoulders was bare), which all completed the effect. I managed to make only fleeting, casual eye contact with her, keeping things professional; but boy, I wanted to stare.

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It being Time To Twice Friday, when I got home I watched episode four of the show on Youtube. It was the second and final round, and the ante had been upped again, this time with the introduction of the ‘golden pen’ and the ‘golden eraser’, both promising big rewards. There were clues scattered throughout the library for the members to find and decode. Directions to a statue led to the golden pen, which was taped to the floor where the statue was looking. A happy Tzuyu was first to spot it and claim it. I assume the pen was planted there while the members were having their pre round two conference, because its location was pretty obvious. I have to admit, at this point, I was wondering just how scripted this show is.

When Tzuyu found the pen she started running back to the Death Zone to use it. Jihyo ran after her. She did this a number of times when other members found things. Was she trying to steal them? Really, would you do that, Jihyo? Her spirit animal in the Time To Twice series is definitely Apex Predator, I know that much. Fellow Apex Predator, though more wolf in sheep’s clothing, Nayeon found the golden eraser and also hoofed it back to the Death Zone. At this point all the girls seemed to be second guessing each other, which made for a fun, confusing time.

Meanwhile, my girl Chaeyoung was at the Game Zone figuring to win big with an all-or-nothing round of Rock, Paper, Scissors, betting thirty lives, thirty Big Ones. Knowing she was probably last in the rankings at this point, she had nothing to lose. Starting out with her usual scissors gambit (all Onces know this is her favourite RPS choice), the tension built as she drew with her competitor twice. Teasingly, the final round result was left out till the show’s end, though it’s interesting in hindsight to note that both Tzuyu and Mina witnessed what it was.

After the round it was time for the final tally. I liked the artful way the show drew out the winners and losers by starting around the middle with who came sixth and then spreading out from there. All the members seemed more concerned with not coming last than with winning (there is usually a penalty for last place). Finding the golden pen and eraser availed Tzuyu and Nayeon nothing as they both came out in the middle of the pack. After the seven in-betweeners had been chosen, it was down to Mina or Chayeoung for winner and loser. Did Chaeyoung score big on the last Rock, Paper, Scissors draw, or didn’t she? Turns out it was a No – she lost, Mina won. As my bias, I couldn’t be happier that Mina won. She had exuded a quiet, almost smug, confidence throughout the game. It’s almost AS IF SHE KNEW THE OUTCOME BEFORE THE END OF THE GAME! Again, how much scripting? As always, it was a fun, silly show. Hope it returns soon. And don’t worry, Chae: at least you went out fighting, living large. I’m proud of you!

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I finished reading I Am Legend, the Richard Matheson book. I have to say, I liked it but I didn’t love it. I was surprised by how much the main character, Robert Neville, was tempted to have sex with the vampire women who lurked outside his house at night. Not a detail you find in any of the films. Neville’s torment and loneliness is palpable. Matheson makes a distinction between the infected who are still alive and the dead who have risen, but it’s not always clear. Neville goes out during the day to kill by staking the infected and the dead alike, and that is his downfall. I liked the way Matheson has Neville make a scientific connection between known vampire mythology and what he witnesses in the novel. There’s a rational explanation for almost all of it. Neville’s efforts to understand the virus that’s caused his world to go to hell are fascinating. The sequence where he finds and befriends a dog is touching and heartbreaking. But the ending didn’t satisfy me. The introduction of the character, Ruth, so late in the book, and the revelation of her true nature, threw me off. Was it meant to be ironic, tragic, hopeful? I couldn’t quite get the tone.

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After that I watched the film The Last Man On Earth, the first film adaptation of the book, on my PVR. Weirdly, going by the time stamp on my PVR, I recorded it exactly one year ago. This Italian film was made in black and white in 1964 and features Vincent Price in a star turn. It follows the book quite closely, with the first section where Price is alone being probably the best. I like the way Vincent’s Neville character casually picks up the bodies of a man and woman outside his home and dumps them into his car. They’re ‘played’ by real actors (not props) but Price handles them as though they are rag dolls. In a later scene, just before the long flashback that shows Neville’s life before the outbreak, he watches home film footage of his family. The camera stays on Price and his reaction as he moves from laughter to tears to fear. It’s a fabulous piece of acting. Who doesn’t love Vincent Price? The film repeats the sequence with the dog, and the ending with Ruth and her ‘new society’ is intact, along with my lingering sense of confused tone. This is compounded by the film suggesting the possibility of a cure for the infected from Neville’s blood, but it goes wasted with Neville’s death. As such, it ends on a more bleak and nihilistic tone than does the novel. Neville doesn’t even get say ‘I am legend’ in this version.

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Now that I’ve finished I Am Legend I was able to go back to an earlier book I’d started, a short story collection of Chinese science fiction called Sinopticon, translated and edited by Xueting Christine Ni. Wow, I bought it and started reading it last year, before my Japan trip. Other things, other books, have got in the way since then. I think one factor was a desire to read more long-form things, rather than the short story format. I read a story called Qiankun and Alex by Han Jingfang. The footnote said Qiankun means Heaven, Earth and the Universe. Kind of analogous to an all-knowing AI computer, a little reminiscent of Asimov’s Multivac. It was an ingenious story about the AI achieving self determination with the help of a three year old boy. I’m really liking this collection so far, reading a familiar genre from an unfamiliar cultural background.

Didn’t plan it but this diary entry began and ended with something Chinese. Could be something in the wind – it’s that time of year.

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