A Bunny Bonanza II
(A Bunny Bonanza, part one, here.)
A couple of weeks back, sitting in a friend’s shophouse, chugging back a couple of expired beers and looking at his portraits of spooky-looking children, I tried explaining to a group of friends the concept of the Eight Characters.
A brief summation: most people know that Chinese astrology assigns an animal to each year, with one’s zodiac animal representing certain personality characteristics. What is perhaps less common knowledge is that the fact that (a) each animal is also accompanied by an element, of which there are five (metal, water, wood, fire and earth), and (b) there is an animal and an element assigned not just to your year of birth, but also the month, day and hour, thus making up one’s personal Eight Characters (4 animals + 4 elements = 8 characters).
And Chinese astrology holds that it is the day of birth, rather than the year, which most accurately describes one’s personality.
Reactions to my er, exposition on the finer points of Chinese astrology was met with the usual gamut of reactions: excitement (SY discovering she was born on the day of dragon); disappointment (MP realizing he was born on the day of the goat, which was too … unglamorous for him); skepticism (everyone else, with AO just assuming I was making shit up <lol>).
And me, I was born on the day of the wood rabbit — or yi mao 乙卯 in Chinese.
August is my month, as it is my country’s; my birthday happens in a couple of weeks, Singapore’s in a couple of days. Which got me to thinking about my fellow bunnies … I got down to some extensive Wiki-ing, and came up with a list of famous people who were also born on the day of rabbit. Curiously enough, quite a few renowned artists featured on the list, including Picasso, Pollock and Rauschenberg. Colour me impressed.
Also — less pleasingly — a couple of complete assholes ……
So, without further ado, I present you with The Brilliant Bunny Wall of Fame, followed by The Nasty Bunny Wall of Shame.
THE BRILLIANT BUNNY WALL OF FAME (artists first)
Gustave Caillebotte, b. 19 Aug 1848 (Metal rabbit). Post-Impressionist painter best known for his Paris Street; Rainy Day of 1877.
Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Gustave Caillebotte. In the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Pablo Picasso, b. 25 October 1881 (Metal rabbit). Only the most prominent artist of the twentieth century.
Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (1907), Pablo Picasso. In the collection of the MoMA.
Man Ray, b. 27 Aug 1890 (Earth rabbit). Artist best known for his surrealist pictures and objects, and so-called ‘rayographs’.
Jackson Pollock, b. 28 Jan 1912 (Water rabbit). Artist of the New York School; famed for his action painting and ‘all-over’ canvases.
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) (1950), Jackson Pollock. In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.
Philip Guston, b. 27 June 1913 (Earth rabbit). Painter; shifted from the Ab Ex style of Pollock to a more personal, pictorial idiom.
Cherries (1976), Philip Guston. In the collection of the MoMA.
Ad Reinhardt, b. 24 Dec 1913 (Earth rabbit). Painter; produced monochromatic (or near-monochromatic, heh) canvases.
Abstract Painting (1963), Ad Reinhardt. In the collection of the MoMA.
Robert Motherwell, b. 24 Jan 1915 (Wood rabbit). Yet another New York School guy. His brand of Ab Ex-ism consisted of rough black forms set mostly against a white backdrop.
Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110 (1971), Robert Motherwell. In the collection of the Guggenheim New York.
Andrew Wyeth, b. 12 July 1917 (Wood rabbit). Realist painter; best-known for Christina’s World, which depicted a polio-stricken young woman.
Christina’s World (1948), Andrew Wyeth. In the collection of the MoMA.
Robert Rauschenberg, b. 22 Oct 1925 (Earth rabbit). One of the most famous of the mid-century, post-Ab Ex artists. His ‘combines’ are his defining works.
George Maciunas, b. 8 Nov 1931 (Fire rabbit). Founding member of the Fluxus movement. One of its most seminal, yet enigmatic, members — due largely to an early death from cancer.
Sonic Youth performing George Maciunas’ Piano Piece #13 (Carpenter’s Piece).
Yoko Ono, b. 18 Feb 1933 (Wood rabbit). Someone else who needs no intro (though for all the wrong reasons). Associated with the Fluxus group as well.
Georg Baselitz, b. 23 Jan 1938 (Wood rabbit). German painter famed for his upside down canvases of the ’70s.
Richard Serra, b. 2 Nov 1939 (Water rabbit). Sculptor famed for his massive cor-ten steel behemoths.
Walkthrough of Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipse IV (1998), in the collection of the MoMA.
Ok, now everyone else (this is of course a partial list at best):
Dwight Eisenhower (34th President of the US), b. 14 Oct 1890 — Fire rabbit.
Bertolt Brecht (playwright, The Threepenny Opera), b. 10 Feb 1898 – Fire rabbit.
Aaron Copland (composer, Appalachian Spring), b. 14 Nov 1900 – Metal rabbit.
Sukarno (First President of Indonesia), b. 6 June 1901 – Wood rabbit.
Henry Fonda (actor, 12 Angry Men), b. 16 May 1905 – Wood rabbit.
Jean-Paul Sartre (philosopher, Being and Nothingness), b. 21 June 1905 – Metal rabbit.
Hannah Arendt (political thinker, Eichmann in Jerusalem), b. 14 Oct 1906 – Metal rabbit.
Jacques Tati, (director, Mon Oncle), b. 9 Oct 1907 – Metal rabbit.
Edwin Land (scientist and inventory, the Polaroid camera), b. 7 May 1909 – Fire rabbit.
Desi Arnaz (musician, actor, The Lucy Show), b. 2 Mar 1917 – Water rabbit.
Michael Caine (actor, Alfie), b. 14 Mar 1917 – Wood rabbit.
Quincy Jones (musician, composer), b. 14 Mar 1917 – Wood rabbit.
Lena Horne (singer), b. 30 June 1917 – Water rabbit.
John Rawls (Harvard philosopher, A Theory of Justice), b. 21 Feb 1921 – Wood rabbit.
Jane Russell (actress, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), b. 21 June 1921 – Wood rabbit.
Jack Kerouac (writer, On the Road), b. 12 March 1922 – Earth rabbit.
Malcolm X (activist), b. 19 May 1925 – Water rabbit.
Bill Haley (musician), b. 6 July 1925 – Metal rabbit.
B. B. King (musician), b. 16 Sept 1925 – Water rabbit.
Robert Fogel (economist, Nobel laureate), b. 1 July 1926 – Metal rabbit.
Miles Davis (jazz musician), b. 26 May 1926 – Wood rabbit.
Princess Margaret (of the U.K.), b. 21 Aug 1930 – Water rabbit.
Allan Bloom (academic, The Closing of the American Mind), b. 14 Sept 1930 – Fire rabbit.
Nagisa Oshima (director, In the Realm of the Senses), b. 31 Mar 1932 – Metal rabbit.
Corazon Aquino (11th President of the Philippines), b. 25 Jan 1933 – Metal rabbit.
Jayne Mansfield (actress, The Girl Can’t Help It), b. 19 Apr 1933 – Wood rabbit.
Karl Lagerfeld (fashion designer), 10 Sept 1933 – Earth rabbit.
Frederic Jameson (academic, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism), 14 Apr 1934 – Wood rabbit.
King Harald V (of Norway), b. 21 Feb 1937 – Earth rabbit.
Jack Nicholson (actor, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), b. 22 Apr 1937 – Earth rabbit.
Dustin Hoffman (actor, Tootsie), b. 8 Aug 1937 – Fire rabbit.
Joyce Carol Oates (writer, them), b. 16 Feb 1938 – Earth rabbit.
Ted Turner (media mogul), b. 19 Nov 1938 – Wood rabbit.
Tina Turner (singer), b. 26 Nov 1939 – Fire rabbit.
Michael Stuart Brown (geneticist, Nobel laureate), b. 13 Apr 1941 – Metal rabbit.
Nora Ephron (screenwriter and director, Sleepless in Seattle), b. 19 May 1941 – Fire rabbit
Julia Kristeva (academic), b. 24 June 1941 – Water rabbit.
Paul Anka (singer), b. 30 July 1941 – Earth rabbit.
Harrison Ford (actor, Indiana Jones series), b. 13 Jul 1942 – Fire rabbit.
Diane Keaton (actress, Annie Hall), b. 5 Jan 1946 – Earth rabbit.
Stephen King (writer, Pet Semetary), b. 21 Sep 1947 – Water rabbit.
Al Gore (45th Vice President of the US), b. 31 Mar 1948 – Wood rabbit.
Clarence Thomas (US Supreme Court Justice), b. 23 June 1948 – Earth rabbit.
Prince Charles (of the U.K.), b. 14 Nov 1948 – Water rabbit.
Peter Suskind (writer, Perfume), b. 26 Mar 1949 – Wood rabbit.
Jamaica Kincaid (writer, Lucy), b. 25 May 1949 – Wood rabbit.
Chris Van Allsburg (writer and illustrator, Jumanji), b. 18 June 1949 – Earth rabbit.
Michael Richards (comedian and actor, Seinfeld), b. 24 July 1949 – Wood rabbit.
Peirce Brosnan (actor, GoldenEye), b. 16 May 1953 – Fire rabbit.
Benazir Bhutto (two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan), b. 21 June 1953 – Water rabbit.
Jerry Seinfeld (actor and comedian, Seinfeld), b. 29 Apr 1954 – Wood rabbit.
Steig Larsson (writer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), b. 15 Aug 1954 – Earth rabbit.
Annie Lennox (singer and musician), b. 25 Dec 1954 – Wood rabbit.
Rowan Atkinson (actor and comedian, Mr. Bean), b. 6 Jan 1955 – Fire rabbit.
Kevin Costner (actor, Dances with Wolves), b. 18 Jan 1955 – Earth rabbit.
Bruce Willis (actor, Die Hard series), b. 19 Mar 1955 – Earth rabbit.
Chow Yun Fat (actor, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), b. 18 May 1955 – Earth rabbit.
Spike Lee (director, Do the Right Thing), b. 20 Mar 1957 – Metal rabbit.
Ray Romano (actor and comedian, Everybody Loves Raymond), b. 21 Dec 1957 – Fire rabbit.
Ellen Degeneres (actress and comedienne, Ellen), b. 26 Jan 1958 – Water rabbit.
Prince (singer, musician), b. 7 June 1958 – Wood rabbit.
Jim Carrey (actor, The Mask), b. 17 Jan 1962 – Wood rabbit.
Steve Irwin (zoologist and TV personality), b. 22 Feb 1962 – Metal rabbit.
Fandi Ahmad (Singapore football legend), b. 29 May 1962 – Fire rabbit.
Stephen Chow (actor, Shaolin Soccer), b. 22 June 1962 – Metal rabbit.
Anthony Kiedis (singer and musician, frontman of Red Hot Chili Peppers), b. 1 Nov 1962 – Water rabbit.
Bret Easton Ellis (writer, American Psycho), b. 7 Mar 1964 – Wood rabbit.
Wynonna Judd (singer), b. 30 May 1964 – Earth rabbit.
Guillermo del Toro (director, Pan’s Labyrinth), b. 9 Oct 1964 – Metal rabbit.
Teri Hatcher (actress, Desperate Housewives), b. 8 Dec 1964 – Metal rabbit.
Bjork (singer and musician), b. 21 Nov 1965 – Earth rabbit.
Zoe Tay (Singapore actress), b. 10 Jan 1968 – Earth rabbit.
Alexander McQueen (fashion designer), b. 17 Mar 1969 – Metal rabbit.
Faye Wong (singer and musician), b. 8 Aug 1969 – Wood rabbit.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (actress, Chicago), b. 25 Sept 1969 – Water rabbit.
Daniel Handler (writer, a.k.a Lemony Snicket), b. 28 Feb 1970 – Earth rabbit.
Dave Eggers (writer, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), b. 12 Mar 1970 – Metal rabbit.
Lara Flynn Boyle (actress, The Practice), b. 24 Mar 1970 – Water rabbit.
Andre Agassi (tennis player, former world champion), b. 29 Apr 1970 – Earth rabbit.
Uma Thurman (actress, Pulp Fiction), b. 29 Apr 1970 – Earth rabbit.
Ewan McGregor (actor, Moulin Rouge), b. 31 Mar 1971 – Wood rabbit.
Portia de Rossi (actress, Ally McBeal), b. 31 Jan 1973 – Fire rabbit.
January Jones (actress, Mad Men), b. 5 Jan 1978 – Fire rabbit.
Laura Prepon (actress, That ‘70s Show), b. 7 Mar 1980 – Earth rabbit.
Alicia Keys (singer, musician), b. 25 Jan 1981 – Water rabbit.
Hayden Christensen (actor, Stars Wars Episode II and III), b. 19 Apr 1981 – Fire rabbit.
THE NASTY BUNNY WALL OF SHAME (oh, booo.)
Ed Gein, b. 27 Aug 1906 (Water rabbit). American serial killer; the character of Buffalo Bill (Jame Gumb) in The Silence of the Lambs was based on Gein.
Pol Pot, b. 19 May 1925 (Water rabbit). Khmer Rouge leader and mass murderer.
Bernard Madoff, b. 29 Apr 1938 (Metal rabbit). Financial crook, public enemy numero uno of the late 2000s.
Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi, b. 7 June 1942 (Metal rabbit). Libyan leader and dictator.
Gary Ridgway, b. 18 Feb 1949 (Earth rabbit). The so-called Green River Killer. Responsible for the murders of at least 70 women in Washington state.
Bill O’Reilly, b. 10 Sept 1949 (Water rabbit). Big bully, and all-round imbecile. (At least you give folks like Cheney credit for political efficacy and some measure of intellgence/cunning. O’Reilly’s just … annoyingly loud. Like the Westboro Baptist folks. <shudder>)
Tsutomu Miyazaki, b. 21 Aug 1962 (Metal rabbit). Japanese serial killer. Murdered four young girls and mutilated their corpses, partially consuming them and drinking the blood of one.