Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yang Tai Chi Sword 55 Story

My Tai Chi Sword class at LCC is almost done. The test was today. Thursday is my last class. As a fun extra credit assignment, I put the names of all 55 movements into a story, in order, and read it during class. It was not difficult: all term long the movement named "Big Bird Opens its Wings" has made me think of Sesame Street, and the rest just flowed from there.

Note that these names are not standardized in English; an example of a listing is at the bottom of this page. Here is a video of the entire form, which I think I've linked to before. (The 55 movement form is rare on the internet, but the nearly identical 54 movement form abounds.)

I am not a Sesame Street expert, unlike one of my classmates. I had to use Wikipedia to find names such as Lew Zealand, and was unaware that Gonzo had never made a cameo apperance on Sesame Street.

For most readers this will probably be little more than a long exercise in poorly forced grammar. :-) But if you know the form, this is very silly.

All of Sesame Street was in the last stages of Preparation for the Chinese New Year's art contest. The paintings were being hung in Mr. Hooper's store for everyone to see.

Gordon and Susan had painted a winged horse flying through the night sky, making Three Circles around the Moon and then soaring over the Big Dipper. "We liked the past year," they explained to Mr. Hooper. "A winged horse represents something leaving too soon."

Big Bird had painted a scene of birds: three swallows and four phoenixes. He explained to Kermit, "The Swallow Flying Over Water flies straight at a goal, while the one Sweeping Right and Left over the prairie has no New Year's resolutions."

The Count had painted the entire Chinese Zodiac. To himself he stated, "Twelve animals (hah hah hah hah!), in a circle around the moon and the Little Dipper." Thunder and lightening happened briefly outside.

Oscar had painted animals making use of trash: a Swallow Flying Back to its Nest with bits of string, and a Weasel Chasing a Rat to get a fluff of comforter filling both wanted to use as a pillow.

Big Bird continued his explanation to Kermit. "The four phoenixes are a barbershop quartet. This Phoenix Raising its Head is the bass about to sing the low note in the series of four notes a barbershop quarter always starts with. Their first song is 'Molasses to my pancakes like a Wasp Flying back to its Hive.' The Phoenix Opening its Wings is the lead. The tenor is the phoenix that appears to be looking at the Count's Little Dipper. The Phoenix Opening to the Right is the baritone, ready to complete the chord."

Ernie arrived next. He explained his painting to Mr. Hooper, "A recent event with cookie crumbs in bed made me unhopeful about New Year's resolutions. They seemed as elusive as a Chinese dragon. So in my painting, that's me, Holding a Fishing Pole, trying to catch a water Dragon Walking on the lake bottom. Behind me, between my hands and chest you can see the moon. It looks like I'm Embracing the Moon in My Arms. That's because I'm grateful to have so much, even if I cannot always have my New Year's resolution. Then a Bird Flies Out of the Wood and the water dragons all want to chase it. This Black Dragon Swings its Tail and that Black Dragon Jumps from the Water after the bird. The bird will escape. But to show how strong the dragons are, see on the lake side how I painted the twisting and broken flowers? Its flight made Wind Whirling away the Lilies."

The store got noisy as the Yip-Yip aliens arrived. They had a small sculpture of animals going "Yip yip!". A lion did so as that Lion Shakes its Head. A tiger did so too (the alien carrying the sculpture did so by Holding the Tiger Head). A wild horse did so in fright as it nearly ran off a cliff. After the Wild Horse Jumps Over a Canyon it landed near a cliff, so its front hooves had dug in to the dirt, Holding Back the Horse from the Cliff.

Big Bird had another painting. "Snuffleupagus made this one," he said.

"Don't be silly, Big Bird," said Gordon. "There no Snuffleupagus."

"If it looks like a toddler painted it, that's because it's hard to paint with your snuffle," Big Bird continued, ignoring Gordon. "In this painting he and I are going sailing. That's me on the dock, Stepping up to Point the Direction to sail in. He is using his snuffle to make our old boat cushions nicer, Sweeping off Dust Left and Right. Those are the oars we'll use for Pushing the Boat."

"By the way, Gordon," added Big Bird. "I like Susan's and your painting. I like the matching curves where a Meteor Chases the Moon in a matching arc to the Winged Horse Flying Across the Sky."

Grover arrived with something big covered by a sheet.

"Is it a sculpture?" asked Kermit.

"Um…" hesitated Grover. He Lifted Up the Curtain and revealed something that looked like a combination Ferris wheel and marble run. Turning a crank, the Wheel Turning had Zodiac animals that picked up white marbles at the bottom and dropped them off at the top.

"I'm humbled," muttered Big Bird. "None of my contraptions are so nice." His face drooped, like a Swallow Picking up Dirt, and he sat down with a sigh. Big Bird Opened His Wings and then let them droop.

Grover explained his contraption. "The white marbles are moons, to symbolize luck. The Zodiac animals are Scooping the Moon from the Sea Bottom and then Embracing the Moon in Their Arms. I'm not sure why I did moons underwater. I guess I tried to make it look like a reflection on top of water but couldn't. Anyway, they all Search the Sea Bottom and move marbles except for this rhinoceros that always holds his marble. This Rhinoceros Looking at Moon is greedy and won't let go. He likes last year's luck and is trying to hold on to it.

Camilla the chicken entered, with a painting she had made of her and Gonzo in a circus act. Gonzo was with her to explain it. "She has been upset at me," he said. "She says that if she is a chicken I am a silly goose. I'm not a goose! But in her painting she's the one firing Gonzo the Great from a cannon, and it is entitled 'Shooting the Goose.' She shoots me into the sky, past a constellation of a Black Dragon Showing its Claw, but the dragon does not grab me. As I circle around the earth like a Phoenix Opening its Wings I eventually come back down and land in a field of marshmallows, bouncing wildly, Sweeping Left and Right. So that's 'Shooting the Goose.' She won't explain the marshmallows to me."

Gonzo's own painting was of a queen's palace. "These are scenes from the Arabian Nights, I think," he said. "The princess is reclining on pillows. A Monkey Presents Fruit to her: peeled grapes, since she is a fancy princess. In the background her servant is Sweeping the Floor Left and Right since princesses don't have to do housework. Her best friend is not royalty, of course. That's the Fair Lady at the Loom. There are tame but fierce looking animals too: a White Tiger Sweeping its Tail, and the other tiger of which the princess is Holding the Tiger's Head."

Lew Zealand entered, carrying his bucket of boomerang fish. His painting was also about fish. "I am eager for a New Year!" he said. "So I paint two thousand Fish Jumping Over a Dam. That is my expectant rushing!"

Bert finally arrived. He looked at Ernie's picture. "You've added another dragon," he said. "That Black Dragon Winding Around a Pillar underwater."

"Yes," said Ernie. "What did you paint?"

"I painted Mr. Hooper," said Bert. Mr. Hooper blushed. "He always gives good advice. I painted three old men who all represent him. This one is a Saint Pointing in the Direction. The pointing is about advice. This old man is Presenting Incense to the Sky. See my face hidden in the moon above the smoke? He's giving me smoke, which represents advice. Third is an old man Whirling Away the Plum Flowers. Those are my bad habits, and his advice helps me get rid of them."

The last Muppet to arrive was the two-headed monster. He carried a painting with a small bronze plaque on it that read, "To learn we must balance what is heard and what is read". The painting was a very stylized and abstract, but still clearly showed a student holding two things. The student was Holding a Tiger Head that had unusually big tiger ears, and was also Holding a Decree Tablet.

"Nicely done!" said Bert. "That looks very authentic."

Pleased, the two-headed monster proceeded to sound out opposites: "Yin, Yang, In, On." Then it reverted to its old habit of sounding out two-syllable words, taking a minute to put together the word "Happy" and then quickly able to add "New Year!"