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[personal profile] ursula very kindly asked me about:

1. Chinese historical dramas

When I first moved to California lo these many years ago, friends of mine were very much fans of Hong Kong action cinema, so about once a week I went with them and saw a double feature of whatever was playing with English subtitles at the local theatre -- films by John Woo, Ringo Lam, Wong Jing, Tsui Hark, and many other directors who were working in the 80s and early 90s. Having grown up in a small town (although large by local standards) in the Midwest, these movies were like absolutely nothing we had ever seen before in our lives, and I loved them and wanted more, and since more of exactly that was hard to come by, my interests quickly expanded into all sorts of (subtitled) Chinese-language visual media, such as music videos and television dramas.

Twenty-five years on, it is relatively easy to find Chinese-language TV shows available streaming, so I am spoilt for choice. I love the non-historical ones too (Nirvana in Fire! The Sweetness in the Salt!) but just now I am really enjoying very long (50+ episodes), very detailed historical costume dramas which play out (in very romanticised biased form, of course) some period of Chinese history. The first I saw was Qin Empire II: Alliance, which I finished just a few months back -- it is the middle of a trilogy about the power struggles of the Warring States period (5th century BCE to 221 BCE) and how one particular state (Qin) ended up in a position to briefly create a unified Chinese empire. (Alas, only this part of the trilogy is available on Netflix, but I keep hoping they'll get the rest.) Having finished that one, Netflix pointed me towards King's War, which is not directly related but a perfect follow-up, since it focuses on how the Qin empire failed and quickly fell apart and all the differing factions trying to bring it down and either a) restore something like the previous status quo of lots of different states in some sort of power balance or b) create their own unified empire with themselves on top. I am about 35 episodes into it and really enjoying it -- and I just realised this touches on a bonus interest as well, since the Chu-Han contention is what happened after the Qin empire collapsed and the two most powerful rebel leaders started fighting over who would actually be in charge.

2. gel pens

I do like gel pens, but should I have listed them as an interest? Perhaps not, as I do not have much to say about them; I like the Sakura Gelly Rolls, they have a good variety of colours and effects (metallic, glitter, shadow), and a lovely ink flow; there is a nice trick where one sketches a little something and then quickly dips a brush in and 'paints' with the ink to fill in the sketch. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination but I do have fun with colours when time allows. And, all right, with more thought it occurs to me that I am easily tempted into buying gel pens collections, I have at least two more readily available... but still, am I interested in them? Hmmmn. I suppose the interests are really 'things I like enough that they are significant to me' so -- yes, gel pens. I like the colourful and sparkly and varied.

3. The Colours of Madeline

This is a middle grade (maybe YA but I would say middle grade) fantasy trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty which I loved dearly when I read it in 2016; I am terrified to reread it in case it does not hold up. It is portal fantasy, sort of -- letters are being exchanged between our world and a fantasy world -- and it is very, very funny in a snarky way, but what I loved most about it is the fantasy world is made up of literalisations of idioms of our world, so there are colour storms which cause huge physical & emotional effects, and the names of places read like a very well-read child playing pretend with a map -- there is a place called the Cat Walk where, yes, people go and watch cats walking -- and yet I never found it twee and frequently found it numinous. I know younger people in the system fell in love with it, so it is hard to say how the books would read to someone who is without that perspective, but for us they were magical.

If anyone would like me to ask them about some of theirs, please comment.
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