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Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008
Taking a break to take in some kung fu
By ED ODEVEN
What should a journalist do after writing over 20 newspaper pieces in a week?
I believe Clark Kent would consider this to be worthwhile advice from time to time. And even if it's the Olympics and there are hundreds of super assignments for motivated journalists, it's important to remember to take breaks from time to time and that there's a big, bright city out there to visit.
That's exactly what I did Thursday evening.
After visiting a China Mobile shop to replace the rental cell phone that is somewhere in Beijing without power now (it disappeared minutes before the United States-China men's basketball game began on Sunday night), I took a taxi ride to Beijing's Chongwen District to see "Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu" at the Red Theatre.
The 90-minute production, viewed from my 15th-row seat while it was being filmed live by a Beijing TV crew, gave an introductory background in the way the ancient martial art developed centuries ago.
A People's Daily news story from 2004 summarized the performance this way:
"The show focuses on a young boy found wandering outside an ancient temple somewhere in China, who dreams of becoming a kung fu master. As with all stories, things don't go exactly according to plan. After being taken into the temple the young novice monk called Chun Yi (the pure one) has many temptations to overcome, but through hard work and over time he conquers and finally reaches his sacred goal of enlightenment."
From my vantage point, the cast delighted the crowd, a mixture of international tourists and locals, with an assortment of kicks, punches, dance moves, fight scenes and overall brilliance. The sound effects, narration and lightning were done by top-notch professionals from China Heavy Creation.
At a time when ancient and modern Chinese culture is being celebrated in large doses, especially near or inside of the Olympic sites, it was nice to leave the Olympic-related venues to find another place to experience a difference aspect of Chinese culture.
It was just as fun to pose with cast members for photographs afterward, or watch others take their pictures and see the joy on everyone's faces during this unique interaction that produced instantly cherished photos.
Today's mystery: For some strange reason, BBC World, channel 1 on my hotel TV, has no picture, but the audio comes across perfectly. It worked fine two days ago.
Maybe I hit the wrong button one too many times on the finicky remote control, or maybe I'm just having a bad week with high-tech gadgets.