Sunday, October 19, 2014


Recently, I have been mesmerized by yet another trashy Hong Kong TVB drama called "Triumph in the Skies II".  It's about the 'glamourous' love lives of a bunch of commercial pilots and stewardesses at a fictional Hong Kong airline based on Cathay Pacific.  It is so ridiculous that when I watch it with Man Yung, he starts rolling his eyes every three minutes in disbelief at the ludicrousness of it all and he switches the channel to baseball, ultimate fighting, informercials - anything to get away from the steaming pile of manure in a train wreck that is TVB drama.  I have to wrestle him for control of the remote.

"How can you stand it?" said Man Yung, defending the remote with one hand and fighting me off with the other.  "How many implausible love triangles are in this thing?  Twenty?  Every second person has an incurable disease!  There's always someone fake crying every fifteen minutes.  The writing is so formulaic that I can already tell you all the plot twists and turns without watching a single episode.  Don't watch it, Irene, it will turn your brain into mush.  These mind-numbing state-controlled TVB dramas are part of an evil ploy by the Hong Kong government to turn all Hong Kong people into complacent consumerist zombies without an original thought in their heads so that they will have no spirit or will-power left to defend their right to democracy!"

Man Yung is right.  Ever since watching this series I have been suffering from phases of inertia and blankness and inexplicable cravings for luxury travel, Vivienne Westwood hoodies and Vitamin Water.  Perhaps not inexplicable....did the characters travel to exotic locales, wear Vivienne Westwood hoodies and drink Vitamin Water?  The answer is yes.  The product placements are so blatant that they even had a character construct a big heart on the beach made entirely out of bottles of Vitamin Water:

If you didn't drink Vitamin Water before, you will now after this episode, evil hahahahaha!

"Man Yung, you are completely right but I can't help myself.  The main character Captain Samuel Tong is so dreamy!"

 Heroic Captain Samuel Tong as played by versatile and intense Hong Kong actor 
Francis Chun-Yu Ng

Francis Chun-Yu Ng is one of the greatest living actors in Hong Kong cinema.  He can play any character - the good guy, the bad guy, the crazed maniac, the pathetic loser, the triad member and the cop (or both in the same movie!) and last but not least, the romantic lead and sport the weirdest haircuts at the same time and he'd be utterly convincing no matter what role he plays.  Even low budget, hastily written, badly produced, poorly directed garbage turns into Shakespeare once the remarkable Francis Ng is on screen.

"Turning into a mindless consumerist zombie is worth it just to watch Francis Ng's performance.  Who else can transform the impossibly virtuous, morally upstanding, infallible and deadly boring character of Captain Tong (with a terrible unflattering Elvis pompadour haircut) into a sex symbol adored by thousands of middle-aged see-lai Hong Kong ladies?" I said.
In real life, there's no way that the free-spirited cadet pilot heroine of the series would choose Captain Tong over his romantic rival Captain Koo who is younger, much nicer, more dashing, better looking and a great deal more fun to be with.  In the series, not only does the heroine choose wrinkly old Captain Tong, she also eventually understands that the stern, severe, soul-sucking lectures about a pilot's responsibility and respectability and about the "weight of the uniform" that he has been giving her on the job and also while they were on dates WERE ALL FOR HER OWN GOOD. And that he is doing this (and risking killing his relationship with the heroine) just because he loves her.

"Man Yung, you know what, you remind me a lot of Captain Tong*.  All the advice you gave me was good, but I just didn't know it! If only Tango was like a TVB drama," I sighed.  "Then you will know immediately who is giving you the best advice.  The authority figure in the uniform played by Francis Ng is always looking out for your best interests and if you follow his advice to the letter, you and the whole world will be better for it."

* Man Yung is also good at giving me stern, severe, soul-sucking lectures about responsibility and respectability and other "important" topics while we are on dates.  Yes I want to kill him sometimes.

I was hoping that Man Yung would be able to shed some light on how a tango beginner - or even a veteran tango dancer - would be able to tell who they could rely on for good advice in Tango.  Perhaps, you can rely on someone for advice if they have impressive videos on Youtube of their performances?  Or maybe you can rely on someone for advice if they have been teaching a long time?  Is there a 'spidey-sense' for what is good or bad in Tango?  What if you have a person who thinks they can tell good from bad but in fact has insufficient experience and poor taste and is in no position to make any judgment?

"Unfortunately, Tango is much like real life," said Man Yung.  "You're going to get advice whether you want to or not from people you dance with, with teachers you are taking lessons with, and even from random folk.  People who dress like tango dancers who look like they dance well may give you good advice, or maybe they won't, and people who don't have impressive tango resumés and who don't dress like tango dancers may give you bad advice, or maybe they won't. 

You can seek instruction and advice, but there's no way for sure of telling whether the person who gave you advice would give you good or bad advice. The fun thing about Tango is that is really like life - it's about the journey and not just the destination.  Sure, you can make mistakes here and there, you may not become a perfect dancer overnight, or even ever.  So long you are enjoying yourself, and you have lived all the tango experiences that you have wanted to live (i.e. some people may be just content to stay home, others want to roam the world) then I think it is just fine and you don't have to worry about missteps along the way!" 

What Man Yung said was really encouraging.  Carpe diem - seize the day!  "Hey Man Yung, I think I would really enjoy the experience of running away with either with Captain Tong, Francis Ng, or both.  Should I give it a go?"

"Irene, that is an excellent idea.  This will give me a perfect opportunity to look for a new partner!"

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