Shadow Runner: Cao Cao’s Fastest Horse

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 Sometimes, an animal leaves a tragic mark in history due to its master’s mistake.

Shadow Runner,  Chinese warlord Cao Cao’s favourite horse is a prime example of this. This famed horse earned that name because people praised it for being able to “outrun its own shadow.”

Shadow Runner’s legendary speed helped to save Cao Cao’s life, but it was not enough to save his own. In CE 197,  Cao Cao invaded Wan City in Jing Province and its ruler, Zhang Xiu, surrendered without resistance on the advice of his advisor, Jia Xu.  This easy victory made Cao Cao overconfident, and he bedded Zhang Xiu’s uncle’s widow, the family’s matriarch, during his subsequent stay at Wan.

Humiliated, the nephew ambushed Cao Cao, his son Cao Ang, and his nephew Cao Amin to take back his family’s honour. Cao Amin died during the initial attack and  Dian Wei, Cao Cao’s head bodyguard perished while blocking the enemy to facilitate his lord’s escape.

When the father and son were riding their horses to flee, Shadow Runner took an arrow in the face and another in a foot and fell. Its master also took an  arrow in his right arm. Cao Ang, too wounded to ride any more, handed over his own horse, so Cao Cao could  escape and go back to their clan.

After the battle, the warlord regretted his lustful mistake and gave a funeral to  honour the four.

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Reference

Shadow Runner. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://threekingdoms.wikia.org/wiki/Shadow_Runner  on November 12, 2019.

[Three Kingdoms]. (2017, May 29). Dian Wei’’s Death (Romance of The Three Kingdoms   1994) [Video  File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlioDrwqABM

 

Lü Bu and Red Hare: The Famous Warrior and His Horse

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The story of   Lü Bu and Red Hare horse is a prime example of how authors can create legends by mixing historical facts with their imagination.

They were a duo of famous warrior and warhorse during China’s late Han Dynasty. They left a mark in history after defeating the elite members of Black Mountain (Heishan in Chinese) Bandits, a confederation of battle-hardened thieves and killers rumored to be one million in total, led by Zhang Yan.  In CE 193, Lü Bu led his band of elite cavalry against the bandits while riding his famed steed.

So great was their prowess, “the people used the phrase: Among men Lü Bu, among horses, Red Hare”, according to Records of the Three Kingdoms, after the battle.  This battle was a clash between two famous commanders who had earned similar nicknames for their agile and speedy tactics on horseback. Lü Bu was called “The Flying General” and Zhang Yan was called “The Flying Swallow”. Though Zhang Yan lost to Lu Bu, he survived the battle and outlived his opponent. Given Lu Bu’s prowess, some historians acknowledge this as a remarkable feat.

Their legends grew over centuries. The signature battle was so memorable, later Chinese authors made up additional exploits for them in fiction. The chief among them was Luo Guanzhong who wrote Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This novel is one the four Chinese Classical novels, and is responsible for Lü Bu and Red Hare’s exaggerated reputation as a duo of the strongest warrior and the fastest warhorse even to this century.

Adding to his value as a dramatic villain, Lü Bu was a notorious betrayer in history. Before his most famous battle, he had already killed two of his liege lords, Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo, who was also his adoptive father, while taking part in a political struggle in the Imperial Court of Han. He ultimately lost to his rivals and had to flee from the capital city. In the end, his subordinates betrayed him while under siege against Cao Cao, a major warlord who later founded the kingdom of Wei. They captured and handed him over to the enemy. Cao Cao, knowing his opponent’s prowess as well as treachery had him hanged and beheaded in CE 198.

In Chinese media based on late Han Dynasty and subsequent Three Kingdoms era, Red Hare and  Lü Bu always get a spotlight, such as in Three Kingdoms (1994)’s tribute to the duo. However, this is a romanticized portrayal and historians have used this warrior’s life as an example of what could befall a soldier who has battle power, but no sense of loyalty.

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References

Lü Bu. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://threekingdoms.wikia.org/wiki/Lu Bu on September   24, 2019.

Red Hare. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://threekingdoms.wikia.org/wiki/Red_Hare on September   24, 2019.

[Three Kingdoms]. (2017, March 27). Lü Bu’s Song (Romance of The Three Kingdoms 1994). [Video File]. Retrieved from   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYWsQC36fQc

 

A Day of Stage Fright: Reading My Work in Public

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     Presenting an excerpt from my article in our upcoming anthology, New Beginnings, at Port Moody’s Gallery Bistro was a frightening endeavor. My medicine for panic was practice. I did practice as many time as I could on the week before. I even dreamed about the day as both good and bad. My classmates at Port Moody Writers’ class may wonder why I was under so much pressure, given that I did the same thing many times in front of them.

I am a nervous one by birth. I sometimes wonder why I like telling stories so much while having a fearful heart. I stepped out of my comfort zone that day and it paid off.  My mother was there. It was the first time she had watched me reading my own work in front of a crowd.

“Son, I video-recorded the whole thing on my phone.”

“I hope you enjoyed it.”

“I sure did. This was a fun event.”

That day was a stepping stone for me as a writer.

I still have miles to go.

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Author’s Note

Please click New Beginnings to find out about our upcoming anthology in Port Moody, BC, Canada

The Ocean

 

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Looking at it from inside a charter seaplane, the ocean seems like an endless expanse, reflecting sunlight to shift its fluid veil from aquamarine to turquoise and indigo as the day goes by. At night some may find the black depth fascinating while others may find it scary.

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Note to My Readers 

This is a short dribble  which I wrote in my writing class

 

Tribute to Kyle Centre

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The Banner

Located by Barnet Highway, Kyle Centre serves as a nexus of recreation in Port Moody, aptly named City of Arts. Flaunting its age, building’s s drab, gray rectangular exterior stimulates the imaginative minds of local children, who usually attend the Arts Centre next door in comical ways. Once a little girl exclaimed, “that looks like daddy’s lunch box!” and her mother responded, “yes the colour is the same.”

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The Lobby

Aside from its exterior,  the place deviates far from dull as the wood-smelling interior houses many different rooms for long-running creative activities.  A receptionist sitting in the room next to the door welcomes visitor and a brown shelf full of attractive brochures stands right next. The space’s friendly, vibrant spirit comes from both a long history and numerous dedicated patrons. The most versatile and persistent crowd of all call themselves the  writers’ group and fill the lounge with humorous discussion every season

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A Note to Readers

This is my tribute to the place where I write  all my posts.

 

The Nine-Headed Monster of Korean Folklore

 

[Image (1) 0: 22] & [ Image (2) 0:42]

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One of the earliest figures in Korean Folklore, the nine-headed monster is a big humanoid with nine heads and a tail. Along with superhuman strength and endurance, he has regeneration so powerful that he can even regrow his heads, or reattach them[1].

Though this folktale has many variations, the most common narrative is that a warrior journeys to the underground kingdom to rescue a princess[2] from the monster.

However, he is no match for his adversary at the beginning and has to train himself underground in addition to drinking a holy water to gain boosted strength. The princess helps him by providing food and shelter. She cleverly entices the monster to drink an excessive amount of rice wine before the final duel to weaken him.

The warrior attempts to cut off all nine heads one by one to kill the foe, but they regrow or reattach faster than he can cut. Though drunk, the giant is virtually invulnerable. Luckily, the princess had discovered a weakness. She throws hot ash on the wounds to prevent regeneration[3].

Working together, the pair separates all immortal heads from the body and buries them before departing to the surface.[4] Overjoyed by his daughter’s safe return, the king allows the warrior to marry the princess.

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Reference

 

[왓섭! 공포 라디오]. (2016, October 11). [요괴 백과] 한국의 요괴들 #2 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yfAN7oPhBU

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End-notes

[1] This tale is resembles Hercules’s hunt for the Hydra in Greek mythology.

[2] or a daughter of a wealthy merchant

[3]   In Hercules’s case, the nephew burned the Hydra’s necks with a torch to prevent regrowth after his uncle decapitated them.

[4] The tales are still different in that one monster is a humanoid while the other is a serpent.

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Korean Monster: Singiwonyo

A Korean Youtuber’s Video about Various Korean Monsters:

Jump to 18:22 To See Singiwonyo

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Singiwonyo 1 is a female ghost in Korean folklore and a rape victim. Her story is set in Pyeongando, one of the regions in Korean Peninsula, during the early period of Joseon Dynasty (16th century).

A diplomat, Joguangwon, happened to spend a night in a guest house on his way to China. Regional folks had warned him not to spend the night there because a vengeful ghost had killed all previous guests. He did not heed the warning, viewing it as superstitious.

At midnight, a freezing wind entered the room and several dismembered, pale body parts tumbled to the floor out of thin air. As if alive, these body parts crawled and reassembled together to form a beautiful young, naked woman. Her deathly pallor brightened to pearly white under the moonlight.

Unlike those before him, the guest composed himself, demanding to know why the creature killed the lodgers. The woman curtsied, explaining that she had not intended to harm them. They merely got scared to death before she could tell her story. Then Jo allowed her to tell her story.

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She was once a local courtesan who had resisted a local official2 ’s attempt to rape her. Angered, the criminal stripped, gagged, and pushed her under two heavy boulders and they crushed her to death. Weeping, the dead woman begged her only listener to seek justice for her and disappeared.
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Next morning, the diplomat found the rapist. He saw him beat him to death as punishment. He also retrieved the courtesan’s crushed, dismembered parts to give the victim a proper burial before leaving the region.

Though his diplomatic mission to China was long, Jo completed it safely, gaining a lofty reputation. Many people believed it was his reward for appeasing the ghost3.

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End Notes

1 Stretching, storytelling courtesan who is a sorrowful monster” 

2 In another version of this story, the rapist is a manservant.

3 This is a typical ending for a protagonist who helps a mournful ghost in Korean folklore and sometimes omitted.

 

Working with Barriers in a Theatre

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The Door to the Stage: A Barrier

 

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With My Team of Actors with Disabilities

 

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With My Guest of Honor, Fiona York

 

As a person with disability, playing a role in the play The Ridiculous Darkness was daunting. My team encountered many issues as we worked on the play. My biggest setback was the theatre’s accessibility.

While it had an elevator, the only automated door was in front of the building. The theatre had many heavy wooden doors. Someone had to hold a door open for me every time I came in and out of the stage. A cast-mate hurt his foot while doing so and I wondered how many people would come to see the show and find the building inaccessible. The situation frustrated me. Automated doors should be mandatory for all buildings.

When my adapted yoga class came to see a performance, they had difficulty with accessing the space. My friends had seats on the top row, and they had to get there by the elevator or up the narrow and dark stairway. The group had to separate to find their seats and then regroup at the end. The traffic in the theatre made this even more challenging. After the show, one of the group pointed out that dimly lit walkways and only one elevator are potential fire hazards in a big theatre. An accessible walkway would have made it much easier.

I, on the other hand, had little time to think about the inaccessibility because of work.  The stage staff and other actors opened the doors and removed any obstacles on the stage. By the end of the first week, my frustration turned to grudging acceptance. Focusing on the goal of being a good actor instead of dwelling on what obstacles, I overcame physical barriers in a theatre with other people’s help, and my determination to make the project successful grew.

Living with disabilities is often about dealing with the stress that daily barriers cause you. My brief time as an actor taught me that relying on other people, who share the same goal, is a way to deal with that very real and unpleasant struggle.

 

Acknowledgement

Many Thanks to the Kyle Centre Creative Writing Group in Port Moody and Jordan Cripps of Connectra and Daniel Arnold of Alley Theatre for their help and support.

 

 

 

The Rehearsal with Treats

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With  My Group Scene Partner, Aria Law

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With Richmond Youth Honour Choir

Working creatively with children could be so rewarding. I understood this while collaborating with Richmond Youth Honour Choir in the play, Ridiculous Darkness. Having children as co-performers had imbued me and other cast members with their liveliness. I couldn’t give up when those much younger gave off so much passionate energy.

Out of all the rehearsals  in 2017, I remember the one on Wednesday, November 1st most vividly with joy. It was the day after the Halloween and the whole company  enjoyed numerous lollipops, the leftovers from the the day before.  It may seem trivial, but getting treats boosted everyone’s morale while we rehearsed the group scenes. My partner, Aria Law got me a lemon lollipop and I licked it to oblivion during the break!

It is always good to feel like a child again.

 

 

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity: Playing a Farmer

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With the Only Animal Member of the Cast

 

 

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With My Team Members, “The Farmers” of Ridiculous Darkness

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Thank you for calling me. I would be happy to be an audience member.”

  “Wait a minute, no! We want you on the stage! As an actor!”

   “What!”

Sometimes an opportunity comes when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me in the summer of 2017. To participate in a theatre production was not part of my plan and I thank Daniel Arnold, the Producer of Ridiculous Darkness, for not giving on me.

It’s ironic that I thought he wanted me as an audience member, not an actor, when we met for the first time at Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver’s Abilities Expo. After the phone call, I realized this could be a priceless, once in a lifetime opportunity for me!

Of course, I got paid for participating, but the money was only a part of it. The total sum of what I have gotten by playing the role of a farmer, along with other people with disabilities, is incalculable. I must write about the whole experience and share it with other people.

Being on stage to play a role in Ridiculous Darkness was an adventure because I had to step way out of my comfort zone and devote myself to the task. It was my first time.  Memorizing my lines took a lot of practice. Even more difficult was summoning the courage to speak them out loud in front of other people. I did it with my team during the rehearsals, and while facing the audience during the performances.

After that I felt proud and that pride was well-earned.

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