Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: Yun Zhong Ge

I had made my feelings for Tong Hua clear in the previous posts about her works (Sound of the Desert and Lost You Forever) and if I’m not mistaken I had stated that I had no interest what so ever in reading Yun Zhong Ge due to the obvious reasons.

But, once I started watching the series I changed my mind. Not that the doom and gloom are going to disappear by the end of the drama, it’s just that after being completely submerged by work I’m in need of a total relaxation. So, I chose Yun Zhong Ge because most periodical dramas were light and entertaining in the beginning.

And true to its form despite the horrible ending that awaits at the end of the journey, the earlier episodes of Yun Zhong Ge are relatively free of angst and quite enjoyable to watch.

However, the main reason why I stick with this drama is its Ling Gege.

Those who read the book might love Big Brother Ling for his wonderful character but since I’m watching instead of reading I’m ensnared by the visual. 

This is Ling Gege and Yun Ge:

This is Crown Prince Myongnong and Solnan:

For you who don’t know, I love Jo Hyun Jae (조현재) and the moment I looked at Emperor Zhao/Liu Fu Ling (the grown up version of Ling Gege) I’m lost. No, Meng Jue is lost because it doesn’t matter how much I like him, there is simply no way I’m going to root for him after I see Emperor Zhao.

Every second, every moment, every time the face of Emperor Zhao is on screen my heart beats faster. He reminds me of King Song (Crown Prince Myongnong/Jo Hyun Jae) in the King’s Daughter. The resemblance is so stark that I have difficulty in reminding myself that it’s not Jo Hyun Jae I’m watching but Lu Yi.

This is Lu Yi:

 This is Jo Hyun Jae:

With that face to stare at and root for it’s impossible for me to stop midway like I always do (I watched lots of dramas but rarely finished any of them). I’m going to watch Yun Zhong Ge until the bitter end. I’m going to sit through all the angst and try my hardest to create my own happy ending.

To tell you the truth that’s going to be hard because I feel nothing for the female lead Yun Ge. If I do feel something from time to time, it is disdain.

How could she be so stupid to fall in love with a wrong man while swearing to heaven to love her Ling Gege only? And then how could she switch her love to Meng Jue while still loving her ‘Ling Gege’ and then suddenly stops loving him just because she thinks she is being used by him?

She doesn’t deserved to be loved that much by either Emperor Zhao or Meng Jue. She is nothing but another extremely nice and kind hearted female lead in drama land. Another one that lacks brains and analytical power. It’s particularly vexing because I love her awesome parents.

I might regret my decision to watch this drama when I arrive at the final scene. But for now, I love what I see. The pretty oh the pretty.

ps: more comparison for your perusal

Lu Yi:

Jo Hyun Jae:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Our Second Master by Twentine

I had mix feelings about this short story. At first I really hated it. I hated how disgustingly shallow the male lead was. I hated how he discriminated people (read ugly women) based on their physical appearance and put them under not worthy to be noticed and remembered category whenever he had the misfortune to encounter them.

I hated that he didn’t consider ugly women as a human being who would feel pain and sport bruises if slapped and kicked. I hated that he didn’t consider them as a weaker species that needed to be protected and cherished but instead only equal to a dog or an animal/object that could be kicked in passing.

To add insult to the injury he would not forget that he had a dog in his house, yet he didn’t even remember the ugly girl who served as his punching bag for years. Yang Yi Qi the Second Master was so despicable that I felt nothing but hatred towards him.

However, once my anger reduced a little bit I started to see things more objectively (through a cracked mirror, because only a twisted mind that won’t be able to see another human being as an equal).

Yes, the second master was shallow and despicable. But there was nothing wrong in him loving the beautiful women and showing his preference for them. He bended his knees in front of these beauties because he was nothing but a weak man. Possessing a stunning physical appearance was equal to having a powerful weapon and he was powerless against them.

We might not want to admit it but human beings are wired to appreciate beautiful people. We put high value on beautiful appearances. We instinctively lean towards beautiful things. If I insist on hating the male lead because he fell under the spell of beauty than I should hate the female lead even more.

Like Yang Yi Qi who loved all those women for pure physical reason, our female lead the Little Monkey also falls for the Second Master because of his looks. She falls for this disgusting man just because he is exceptionally beautiful.

She ignores the rotten man inside, forgives and forgets his abuses all because of his physical appearances. On Yang Yi Qi’s defend, at least all those women he loved were equally beautiful inside out. They only fought with each other for his affections. None of them was physically abusive towards those weaker than themselves.

It is not easy for me to love either the male or female lead in this story considering how shallow they both are since their affections are captured by nothing but skin deep appearances. While the only thing that makes me fall in love with any lead in a story or drama is their extraordinary characters.

Fortunately, despite her weakness for beauty, I don’t hate the female lead. I like how although everyone thinks that she is ugly – Yang Yi Qi even calls her monkey, the Little Monkey disagrees, she knows she isn’t beautiful, but she knows for sure she isn’t ugly.

I love that. It’s a very good sign that signifies although she appears to be shallow she actually is not. A shallow and weak person would be defined by how other people see them and not by how they see themselves. And although she seems to be influenced and blinded by beauty the Little Monkey is actually very clear headed.

I love how despite very conscious of her lowly status she knows the value of herself. I love how despite falling under the Second Master’s charms she is never completely blinded by his beauty. Although she loves him, she is aware of his vices, she knows his weaknesses and she knows he isn’t perfect.

But what I love the most about the Little Monkey is her pride. I love how she decides not to show her love to the Second Master and not to lower herself to accept things that she doesn’t like about him just so that she could be with him.

Now, back to the Second Master. The best part about this story is the character building of the Second Master. I love how this story turns my hate for the Second Master into love.

How I hated the Second Master but a person isn’t and shouldn’t be defined by his past. The past has lost its significance once it’s passed. It’s the present and the future that matter.

I love how the Second Master learns from his misfortune. I love how he feels no bitterness about his losses. I love how he reflects and takes them as his due punishment. I love how he starts to see what are the things that really matter.

I love how he finds new purpose in life and rises to the top with his own strength. I love how he becomes a better person. A whole new person although physically he is actually half person now.

And I love how he loves. I think the best scene for me is when the Little Monkey tells him that she is leaving. I love how he nods his head and with a smile lets her go.

Our Second Master by Twentine is a marvel. In its shortness and simplicity it presents all that we might want from a story. I hope that it might somehow find its way into a kdrama where I could love this story for a lot longer.

You could read Our Second Master at
I almost forget, lots of love and many thanks to Decembi for translating this wonderful story

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tranquillity and Qur’an

If there is one aspect in Islam where I’m extremely lacking it’s in the recitation of Qur’an. Yes, I can read it just fine but when it comes to recitation with the proper correctness and standard requires of this Holy Book my ability is close to appalling.

I’ve never been inspired to learn how to recite Qur’an properly, but after seeing this video by chance I suddenly realize why it’s so important. I suddenly understand why the angels, the jinn and the people who were not even Muslims were eavesdropping and listening whenever Prophet Muhammad or his followers recited the Holy Verses.

Even I who am only able to read and not fully understanding the meaning of what I read out loud with my very ugly recitation sometimes ended up with tears running down my cheeks. Thanks God it happened in the privacy of my room.

Al Barra recounted:
A man was reciting the verse of Al-Kahf and his horse was tied with two ropes beside him. A cloud came down and spread over that man and it kept on coming closer and closer to him till his horse started jumping as if afraid of something. When the morning came the man came to the Prophet and told him of that experience. The Prophet told him that was As-Sakina (tranquillity) which descended because of the recitation of the Qur’an.

To help understanding the meaning of the random verses recited to the people in the video. I’m providing the English translation of those verses as follows:

The verses for the first guy is from Al Fatihah:
1.  In the name of Allah the Most Gracious and Most Merciful.
2.     All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).
3.     The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
4.     The Only Owner of the Day of Resurrection.
5.     You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help for each and everything.

The verses for the second guy is from Al Kafirun:
1.     Say O Muhammad to these Mushrikun and Kafirun: ‘O Al Kafirun’!
2.     I worship not that which you worship.
3.     Nor will you worship that which I worship.
4.     And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.

The verses for the group of youngsters is from Al Falaq:
1.     Say: ‘I seek refuge with Allah, the Lord of the daybreak,
2.     From the evil of what He has created,
3.     And from the evil of the darkening night as it comes with its darkness; (or the moon as it sets or goes away);
4.     And from the evil of those who practise witchcraft when they blow in the knots.

The verses for the lady is from An Nas:
1.     Say: ‘I seek refuge with Allah the Lord of mankind;
2.     The King of mankind;
3.     The God of mankind;

The verses for the two guys is also from Al Fatihah. While the last verses for the homeless guy is from Yasin:

1.     Yasin;
2.     By the Qur’an, full of wisdom;
3.     Truly, you O Muhammad are one of the Messengers.

I hope the translation helps.