Binge watching the Condor Trilogy series

Thanks to the Corona virus, the people of San Francisco have been sheltered in. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing is watching the Condor Trilogy 射鵰三部曲 series. I got the idea of doing this because of nostalgia. I always enjoyed wuxia as a kid. I don’t know which I watched first – Bruce Lee or Chinese kung fu movies. For that reason, I didn’t even think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was that awesome when it first came out – thought it was just like another Chinese kung fu movie. Hero though, the film with Jet Li and Donnie Yen, was really awesome! I watched the The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶when I was a kid. My late aunt graciously recorded it for me and I watched while being babysat at my great-grandmother’s house. Only upon watching it for the 3rd time, this time in order without missing any episodes and with subtitles, did I really know how much of the story I missed and how poor my Cantonese is.

When I was a kid, I only cared to see the kungfu action. At least that’s what I thought I cared for. Having watched it very recently, I still enjoyed the kung fu action, but also really enjoyed the story. I also enjoyed seeing the lots of beautiful women cast in the series. It’s almost like watching the UFC actually. Which guy doesn’t like watching violence mixed with beautiful women? With the UFC or boxing, you have ring card girls. I know the movies aren’t real fighting. It’s more of a dance than a fight scene. If I want to watch real fighting, I’ll watch the UFC. That said, this is a series that has a remake every decade. Jin Yong wrote some masterpieces. There’s no other reason they would do a remake every 5-10 years.

So I spent about 30 hours watching the 1983 version of 神鵰俠侶 with Andy Lau and Idy Chan. I enjoyed the series a lot. Andy Lau plays brilliantly and Idy Chan is a goddess. Among them were many other talented and beautiful stars as well. I knew I had to watch it from from the beginning to the end to really understand the film. The moment I started watching the series, I started to notice that I needed to keep track of the characters so that I wouldn’t get lost in remember who was who. I ended up using wikipedia as Cliffs notes. I wish I had known about the fandom link at the time. I would’ve used it as well. I’m not the best at remembering Chinese names. I did my best, but also sadly couldn’t resist reading and finding out what happened prior to seeing it actually happen. It was still entertaining and exciting to see how the directors set up the scenes and how they were executed.

There’s a video below that talks about how they shouldn’t make these series because the ratings seem to be getting lower and lower. I might agree perhaps for the older series e.g. the 1990s and 2008, but would wholeheartedly disagree for the 2017/2019 versions. Also, the guy makes his argument based off of ratings. Well, ratings are based on the time and what was available at the time. If you watch the 1983 神鵰俠侶, you’ll see that the Jinlun Guoshi is wearing a wig that doesn’t match his skin color. You would also see that in a lot of scenes, the backdrops are terrible – totally obvious that it’s done on a set.


Think about it. Why would anyone in their right mind create a remake of a series, spend a shitload of money, and make a series that’s worse than the original? Nobody would. Nobody would invest. Nobody would play the parts. Unless they’re just milking the cow – if they already own something and just want to get as much money out of it as possible before it dies. I don’t think that’s the case with these series. You should expect that every series is better than the next. There are many reasons for that. If a series was successful, people usually would like to replicate that success somehow. With better technology and a bigger budget, they can often produce a better product as well. For example, back in 1984, the best they could do to simulate 小龍女 XiaoLongNu’s bees was to make little lights flash on screen. Technology has gone a long way since then.

At the end of the series, I had a decision to make. Did I want to see the prequel and sequels? Well, it was a resounding yes. Jin Yong can really tell a story! I had no doubt that I wanted to see the other 2 parts of the series. That said, there are about 3-4 different versions I could choose from. My first thought was to try the Amazon prime version. I watched 1 episode of the Legend of the Condor Heroes there and decided immediately that it wasn’t for me. My issue was that the English subtitles get superimposed over the Chinese subtitles and made it hard to read. Another issue was that I think they went overboard with the special effects and computer generated imagery. I guess you’ll never know how far you can go until you have crossed the line. I feel that the 2008 version did just that. I then watched 1 episode of the 2017 version and felt good with it. I’m glad I did.

李一桐 Li Yitong plays Huang Rong 黃蓉, one of the main characters in the Legend of the Condor Heroes. She won 2 well-deserved awards for her performance. I absolutely fell in love with her character. I was looking forward to her character to come on the entire time. She was super cute, witty, intelligent, the whole package. In an interview, they asked her if she had watched the previous drama series. I’m glad she didn’t. That’s not to say that her predecessors didn’t do a good job. The late Barbara Yung Mei-ling 翁美玲 and Athena Chu Yan 朱茵 are also fantastic in their respective versions of the series. I can’t pick a favorite because I’ve always been a huge fan of Athena Chu’s since her performance in A Chinese Odyssey. I’ve now also become a huge fan of 李一桐 Li Yitong!
The beautiful Athena Chu in the 1994 version of The Legend of the Condor Heroes.
Viola Mi 米露 plays a fantastic and underrated Mei Chao Feng 梅超風. Doesn’t she look like she came out of a comic book? Viola, clearly very attractive, looks fantastic as a goth villain. She plays the role of a blind woman pretty convincingly and I believe this is the best version of her costume as well. She switches from a master villain role to a subservient role well when the master Huang Yaoshi 黃藥師 shows up.
I haven’t seen a better version of the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan 江南七怪. These guys were not in the series that much, but at least you see the different characteristics of the different characters. In the 1983 version, apart from the leader Ke Zhen’e 柯鎮惡, it’s hard to tell one from the other.
陈星旭 Chen Xingxu looks totally innocent, doesn’t he? He plays a pretty good bad guy, 楊康 Yang Kang, switching to being a bro of Guo Jing. Heard from an interview that he was nervous about the role because the guy that played Huang Yaoshi played his role in 1983. Frankly, I think Chen did a better job, but Michael Miu 苗僑偉 played a very good Huang Yaoshi.
Meng Ziyi 孟子义 sure is beautiful, isn’t she? She plays 穆念慈 Mu Nianci. Internet says she had some plastic surgery.

After watching the The Legend of the Condor Heroes, I proceeded with watching Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber. I figured I would go with the 2019 version since it was the latest and it didn’t disappoint. This is available on Amazon Prime video as well, but unfortunately only in Cantonese. Since the movie was filmed in Mandarin and I always prefer to see lips in sync, I opted to watch in Mandarin.

Chen Yuqi 陈钰琪 or Yukee Chen has also earned a fan in me. Her acting was superb and she earned 2 well-deserved awards for her performance as Zhao Min, the Mongolia princess.
See the source image

Bambi Zhu Xudan 祝绪丹 is gorgeous, isn’t she? She plays Zhou Zhiruo, a beautiful, sweet, and innocent woman. Does she look like she could kill anyone!? Well, she played a very convincing role when switching over and also deserved the 2 awards she won for her performance.

No way! You’re a total catch!
Watch a comparison of scenes here. I think it’s pretty clear that the remakes are better.

I do have one complaint about the casting. There’s no shortage of talent in Hong Kong or China. Why do they reuse the same actors for different parts? The only reasons I can think of are budget or directors wanting to work with the same people. Here are some examples of some that look the same. There are more, but since the series are over a decade apart, the actors no longer look the same and they played the parts well. Kathy Chow Hoi-mei 周海媚 played Zhou Zhiruo in the 1994 Legend of the Condor Heroes series and played an awesome evil Abbess Miejue in the 2019 Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber. Michael Miu played Yang Kang in the 1983 series and Huang Yaoshi in the 2017 Legend of the Condor Heroes series.

The same guy plays one of the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan in the 1980s version of the Legend of the Condor Heroes and then plays the 公孫止 character in the Passionless Valley.
The beautiful Li Zeng 曾黎 appears in both, The Legend of the Condor Heroes and Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. I guess she commits suicide as Guo Jing’s mother 李萍 and then reincarnates as the Poison Goddess 王難姑 over 100 years later. I don’t mind seeing more of her by the way! She’s stunning!
Li Zeng in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. In my dreams, she’s married to me!
Ning Wentong plays 周伯通 in the Legend of the Condor Heroes and then plays 胡青牛in Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber.

Normally, when watching any drama series, after the whole thing, I feel like I’d wasted my time. After all, it is many hours of my life. After Breaking Bad, arguably one of the most successful series of all time, I felt like I had wasted many hours of my life and wish I hadn’t seen it. I felt the same after watching the IP Man tv series. The Donnie Yen movies were great. The series, not so much. I also watched many episodes of Boardwalk Empire – perhaps 1-2 seasons. At some point, I feel like it’s never going to end and I quit. This is one of the few series that I cannot seem to get enough of. Eventually, I may read the books, but now, I’m content with watching what I can on tv or YouTube and reading on wikipedia and fandom. The reason I feel that I could be critical about the different versions is because I actually went through the different ones that I’ve talked about and found my favorite scenes and watched them in the various versions. You can find almost all of them on Youtube.

If you do watch this series however, don’t watch it in the order that I watched it in, unless you want to know what happens later. It is a little fun to know how the characters already progressed, but I think it’s better to watch them in order. 🙂 Start with The Legend of the Condor Heroes 射鵰英雄傳, move on to The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶 and finish with The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber 倚天屠龍記.

I can’t wait to see the New Return of the Condor Heroes starring 佟梦实 Thomas Tong and 毛晓慧 Mao Xiaohui.

Thanks for reading and please leave some comments below.

Making Bob’s Red mill pancakes palatable

I normally love Bob’s red mill products. I enjoy their organic soy beans, organic oatmeal, flax seeds, beans, you name it. That said, their multigrain pancake and waffle mix is just plain disgusting. I’ve followed their instructions on the package and it just comes out gross. Both, the pancakes and the waffles.

If you got some however, please don’t throw them out. Here’s how to make them taste better. I was watching an episode of Diner Revival where Amanda Freitag show someone how to make a gluten free pancake and used a banana. That inspired me to give it a shot and it worked well! When following instructions, add a banana to the mix before putting them in the blender.

It’ll add just the texture you want. They’ll taste almost like regular pancakes. Of course, add maple syrup or honey to your liking. 🙂

Maximize your Marriott points!

Sign up for the new credit card and get 80,000 points. (I’ll get 20,000 if you use my link.) 🙂 https://t.co/clpVkadt3B It’s well worth it. It does cost an annual fee of $85, but the 80k points will get you 2-3 nights. I think the one night per year covers the $85 annual fee. 🙂

I started using Marriott early on only because I had stayed at Courtyards multiple times for work. I’ve started to take a liking to Marriott and their bonus system. With the Marriott card, you can get 5 points per dollar spent at Marriotts, which is awesome! You get free rooms pretty quickly that way and also get lounge access pretty quickly as well.

If you’re not a member and happen to just be staying at a Marriott, I would say to sign up! The points do expire (I think after 18 months), but you can keep them pretty easily just by continuing to accrue. There are a few ways to accrue them without staying at Marriotts. One of the ways is to sign up for the credit card. Better yet, use my link above! 🙂 Another way is to shop to keep them! https://marriott.rewards.com There, just click through the site and buy anything and they’ll credit you Marriott points. That way, you’re accruing as you spend money. Something I wish I had done during the holiday season. I could’ve had at least one additional point for every dollar I spent! I’ll write another posting on maximizing your shopping points sometime soon.

One last point is to try to stay loyal to one particular brand i.e. if you’re flying United, only fly United. If you’re flying American, only fly American – it’s much easier to accrue points that way and be able to use them. If you’re staying at Marriotts and collecting Marriott points, you won’t get anything by staying at a Hilton. You will get some credit for staying at an SPG though! I’ve already linked my 2 accounts, but haven’t transferred any points yet.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other/better ideas!

asinine espn bar management

Hmmm … So, we went to the ESPN bar on the Boardwalk Disney in Orlando and expect just some typical bar food and a drink before going home and back to bed just after midnight last Thursday evening and we got probably the worst service ever.

The greeting we got something to the tune of there is no food service. You can only order drinks. At first, we were thinking about just leaving, but then decided what the heck. We might as well. So, one guy asks what some of the beers were. The waiter says, “it’s a beer”. He couldn’t give a better description for any of the beers! One guy orders a Jamison neat (no water, no ice). What’s is that? Shouldn’t you know if you’re a waiter? Oh well. No big deal.

I order the “Zone” drink, but asked for a shot of rum in in. I got the drink without rum in it. The person next to me ordered a milk shake. She got a drink with cream and shaved ice. Another guy ordered 2 drinks. He ordered the Zone and a beer. When he asked what kind of beers they were (menu just had names on it), the waiter responded with something like “it’s a beer.” When the drinks came, he just got the beer. When he asked for the waiter to get his other drink, the waiter said, “no, you didn’t [order the 2 drinks]” and he added that he couldn’t go back because the bar was closed and that the bartender was pissed that he even took the order.

When the check came, I was charged 6.50 for the rum. We called the waiter back and told him this and told him that there wasn’t rum and that he could taste it if he wanted to. He declined to taste it. He then brought his manager. The manager then argues with me and says that the recipe called for rum. The drink was special order – it wasn’t even on the menu! How could they have a recipe!?

The waiter said i should’ve told him there was a problem with my drink before the check came, but the bar was closed immediately after drinks were served! What was he going to do? Go back to the bar!? He told us that he couldn’t do that!

Later, the manager said that he was willing to take the drink off, but that we couldn’t tell him that he didn’t make the drink right while neither of them were willing to taste the drink.

They just took off the $6.50. They didn’t take off the whole drink like they said. They also charged an 18% gratuity as well!

So atop of that, we had to pay a very undeserved 18%!

Acura vs. Lexus … just to get a quote …

I ask the acura guy …
how much for the car
he writes back …

Special Financing available for all 2008 Acura TL’s in stock for .9% for 36 months and 2.9% for 60 months on approval of credit.

2008 TL Navi for $30,000+ Tax + Licensing Fees (MSRP $36,940).

idiot from lexus …
Catherine: i’m thinking of getting a used bmw
Because there are so much variation in equipment options, in order to put together most aggressive and accurate price possible, I was wondering if you could either send an email or give me a phone call with options you want on your new vehicle.  I will be calling you soon and/or emailing you. To contact me you can call me directly at (650)994-2255. I look forward to serving you.
then …
I copy acura’s quote
and say I want something similar
he writes back …

If you compare to the price, for sure Acura is cheaper, but I want you to understand the more you pay, more you get. Lexus use the finest material to build our cars, so you can find that vehicle dependability report we’re always No.1, our vehicle will be much more luxury than a acura, engine much smooth and quite. Is all your decision, acura is a nice car too, if you want something more budget, I think is a good choice. If you want to get the finest and luxury vehicle, Lexus is your choice!
my response …
I don’t want to come in and look first. I’m not only considering price. I’ll test drive the two after I get a quote.

According to this: http://www.newcars.com/lexus/es350/reviews/acura-tl.html

The prices should be comparable.
he comes back with … what equipment that you interested to have it in the ES350?
I was like … what the hell!
finally! he goes …

If you want navigation this is the package you will get for 2008:
P             Z1             Trunk Mat, Cargo Net and Wheel Locks
F             BE             Rear Seat Side Airbags                               F             HH             Heated and Ventilated Front Seats                               F             NV             Navigation System Includes:                               F             PM             Premium Package Includes:

MSRP: $39615 + fees, and you can have it for $34423 + fees, color is limited for 2008.Please let me know when is the better time for you to come! Thanks
and of course, I come back with what I forgot …

Ok. Which colors are available and do you have any special financing like Acura does?

it took 4 emails from lexus what it took 1 from acura!

The Next Food Network Star Season 4

After the last episode, a few of my picks are gone – Kevin Roberts and Nipa Bhatt– both of whom I thought had a chance are out of the competition. Aaron McCargo Jr.… eh … maybe. He’s hit and miss. Sometimes, he can have some showmanship, but I think he’s a better cook than a TV star. I think the most complete package still is with Kelsey Nixon. I’ll be very surprised if she’s eliminated anytime before the final two. I wanted to say final four, but we’re almost already there!

My pick for The Next Food Network Star Season 4

Wow!

This show’s awesome! I think I’d watch a show from almost any of these stars. All of the people are very beautiful – they all have great potential.

Who am I picking to win this? (Please bear in mind this is just from watching 1 show.) Well, here are those that I like (not in order):

Aaron McCargo Jr. – great food – 2 iron chefs liked it.

Kelsey Nixon – excellent personality, great energy and stage presence – definitely has what it takes to be on TV. The way she handled the judges questions, it was awesome! She’s also VERY HOT!

Kevin Roberts – the guy is funny … can’t say much more, but have the feeling that he’s got a shot.

Nipa Bhatt – I actually have the feeling she’s NOT going to win, but I feel that she has great potential. Her confidence I think is great. She’s got good answers to judges questions and could handle being put on the spot … but seeing her say “I can’t handle this anymore,” we’ll see what happens. She, like Kelsey, is also very beautiful.

Shane Lyons – I think this young kid’s got a good shot as well – seeing him breakdown in episode 1 I think helped him – it showed his love for food and his pride in his work.

Of these guys … I’m picking Kelsey.

Toyo Sushi on Sloat Blvd in San Francisco

This is yet another, Chinese owned sushi restaurant. We sat at the bar and the chef had a scared look on his face when my buddy asked me if we should do “omakase”. I’m fairly certain he didn’t know what that meant. This place is okay. Their “shari” (rice) really sucks. It had no taste – not salty, not sweet, not sour. Their fish though that day was very fresh and tasted very good. After one piece of nigiri, we did sashimi for the rest of the night. The chef at the bar was lame. We tried ordering from him and he seemed to acknowledge our orders, but never fulfilled them. He told us that he was very busy and we would have better luck ordering with the waiters. That was pretty disappointing. We took 3% off of his tip for that and I don’t expect to go there again.

2001 Infiniti G20 – NOT a transmission problem!

Strange problem, but it seems that it was reproduced by another car other than mine, so I would expect that it will happen to a lot of others as well. There’s an intermittent problem where car will just rev and not move very quickly as if it doesn’t get into gear or something. It won’t go past 60mph or so and it’s revved very high at that speed, so you’re wasting a ton of gas. If you stop and restart the car, it’ll run fine again. It’s really frustrating as you don’t know when you’ll run into this problem and when you won’t. It will get worse and worse as time goes on. Turns out, the problem is with the battery. If you just change the battery, it’ll run just fine again! Just $50 fixes the problem!

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