Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Skinny Hamster and the Otter

A colleague in Singapore is known as “Mr Otter” – reflecting his penchant for fish. Especially pepper crab. And turning into a shopping mall this evening we were confronted by a sign that encouraged us to visit the health club on the third floor. A treadmill of a day comment morphed into the image of a skinny hamster on a treadmill. Indeed, the pair of us in the health club seemed like a clash of images, but was remotely hilarious when couched in animal terms. But it did seem like a nicely poetic title after the fashion of book and movie titles about Chinese themes that assailed us throughout the 1980s and 1990s – and I have to confess that I am bit of a sucker for them.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The art of the title lies in the four word poem this title creates. Tiger and Dragon grab your attention and are linked in an obvious way. Lethal and beautiful. Elusive and powerful. Crouching and Hidden link up as well. Crouching can imply something that is hidden, perhaps in ambush. Waiting for prey. Or perhaps the Tiger and Dragon are pitted against each other, both in some sort of Mexican standoff. Both hidden from each other but aware of the presence of each, nonetheless.

“First Love the Litter of the Breeze”. “Fallen Plum Blossoms” “Scared Fire, Heroic Wind.” “Bloodshed on Mandarin Duck Mountain” (OK, a bit different). “Wolves Crying Under the Moon” “House of Flying Daggers” are titles that are evocative before you get to the story itself.

OK, most actually don’t cut it. Try “Father and Son are Both Great” “Special Anti-Gangsterdom Action” “Bomb Disposal Officer Baby Bomb”, “The Haunted Cop Shop II” “Hai Rui Swears At Emperor” or “Beyond Hypothermia” and see what sort of response you get from your local video store.

Or ask for “Skinny Hamster Outtreadled by Otter” and get a completely blank look. I guess you had to be there.

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