Welcome to my rarely posted on blog. Hi. How are you? The last time I posted on here, the NBA was locked-out, people were making Al Davis corpse jokes about the Oakland Raiders owner (while he was currently not deceased), Jose Reyes was representing the Mets in his race for the National League batting title, deep down, people were uncertain about the fate of the planet in 2012, and uncle Owen was still looking for a droid that speaks Botchi. Okay. It wasn’t that long long ago. But seriously…, you know that it has been a while. So here we go.
It would be silly to try to recap everything that happened since my last post some ten months ago. But I will comment on some things that I’ve been thinking about, in no particular order, about the common goings on here in China.
For starters, every time I’m on the train, I see people carrying on completely mundane items as luggage. And they store it in the compartments above the seats, sit with it, or place it on the floor wherever they please. These items can be anything, really. Especially items which you can purchase anywhere at just about anytime. Like giant bags of potatoes. Or large quantities of bottled water. I saw a guy carry on several rice cookers in boxes tied together with twine. The best part is that they generally have no regular luggage to speak of. No bags with clothes or other items like that. Just large quantities of one type of mundane item. Where are they going with these things? What are they doing with them? Why are they not just buying these items when they arrive at their destination? I had at first considered that they are simply business people selling …things you can find anywhere in China. But I quickly decided this was not the case by examining the people more closely. Most of them are either really old, or traveling with kids/family. I’ve asked quite a few people like, ‘why is this person carrying on one hundred grape fruits?’ and have never gotten an answer better than a shoulder shrug. That’s one of the things I’ve learned about China. Sometimes, you just don’t have an answer. And nobody prods into anything more than a simple question or two. You just accept the fact that you have to sit with your luggage because the overhead compartment is full of boxes and boxes of Oreo Orange and Berry cookies.
I guess that is a nice juncture for my next quip. Snack food is really bizarre here. And not even in the ‘I just saw a girl purchase pre-cooked chicken claws in an air sealed bag and start snacking on them like they were not pre-cooked chicken claws-food’ way. I mean, like chemically insane kinda way. The snack food aisle is an area of wonder in China. Because you will find all of the rejected food ideas from every dark place of the world in one rack of food. We’ve already mentioned the orange flavored Oreo creme inside a chocolate Oreo cookie. The same for berries too. But those are merely scratching the surface of food gone horribly wrong (or horribly right if you happen to like certain combinations of food). I first became interested in this subject when I happened upon a bag of Lays potato chips marked, ‘Lobster and Cheese’. It wasn’t long before I was buying all the different kinds I could. I guess the most bizarre thing about these foods is that the Chinese food chemists have got the flavors down EXACTLY right. Like, if you’re wondering right now what a lobster and cheese potato chip tastes like, go ahead and savor that thought because it’s exactly what the chip tastes like. It’s actually pretty amazing, in a twisted kind of way. Like as if all the oompa loompas in Willy Wonkas chocolate factory decided candy was getting boring and that making snozzberry wallpaper taste like snozzberry wasn’t as exciting or appealing as Tuscan Steak crispers, and so employed their services in China’s food chemistry labs to further pursue their dark magics and love for song.
Actually, the music here is REALLY bad. And I can’t capitalize that REALLY as large as I need to. I once walked into a club called The Blue Marlin, and they started blaring the Happy Birthday song and patrons and staff began doing a congo line around the club. I had just purchased a beer at the bar, made eye contact with my friends scouting the second floor balcony and we got the hell out of there. It’s not to say that the clubs are particularly bad here, but they are fond of really bad music. I feel like I have to defend the Chinese here because they are essentially being thrown into this new world of technology and not living in their own river of waste and bile-type life, and haven’t quite figured out what is cool and what is not cool.
TIME OUT. Imagine Zach Morris on his eighties mobile phone, which is like a sleeked down and glorified brick with an antenna and buttons. If you were to meet him at the Max and give him an iphone4s and tell him his career would blow up like the Hindenburg and derail the following 15 years after Saved by the Bell, he’d take the phone and update the way he lives his life to a more modern standard but would probably not cut his hair or change his clothes. TIME IN.
That’s what it’s like here in China but not as simple. Things are hybridizing. So it’s really jarring to see people with tattoos and piercings and fairly revealing clothes at a night club going crazy to these tunes:
Glory glory hallelujah
Last Resort – Yes. This a papa roach song.
They do play normal club stuff for most of the time, but these are their guilty pleasure songs they intersperse in between.
I guess my last post, I wrote about this new teacher and my first impressions of him. I’ll say this about our last party night in Hefei: He ended up wearing his shirt sleeve as a headband. What happened to the rest of his shirt? He tore it off because it got dirty and threw it on some stairs. Later that night, he would find his shirt on the stairs, torn to shreds, and then light it on fire. As the Chinese bystanders were yelling at him to put out the fire, he replied, “好的” and began urinating on it. And yes, it did put out the entire fire. He also managed to destroy a sidewalk outside another club and wound up in a Chinese police station. That wasn’t a very fun night. But it turns out he was a pretty cool dude and definitely a party animal.
And before I go any further, it has been requested that I cover some of the school stuff I’ve been doing this year and a little bit of information about this years students. As you may or may not be aware of, I am teaching at another university this semester in addition to the college I have been teaching at since last year. That roughly equals another 250-ish students and a whole bag full of outrageous English names chosen by Chinese students.
Of course we all remember last years’ winners. In no particular order:
- James Bond
Presenting, the best of 2011:
- Ok and KO (two students)
- Beth (This is a boy)
Quick note: I almost didn’t mention this but BOSS came up to me one day and said, “I’d like to change my name”. This is a frequent occurrence for students to just up and change their names, so I said, “Go for it…. No waitaminute. What are you changing it to?”. He handed me a slip of paper. It said, Bawls. “Absolutely not. Boss is a fine name. Keep it.”
More school things. I had an icebreaker activity that I ran last year to good success and decided to use it again with my new students at the new University I’m teaching at. One of my classes is 31 girls and no boys. I think you know where I’m going with this. Sorry in advance girls, but some of you just can’t throw objects in the air very well. The activity is a circle game where we throw the ball across the circle to one another, and, after catching it, say our English names and one thing about ourselves (I like to KTV, etc). The ball goes all across the circle until everyone has touched it once, all the while students are to remember who threw the ball to them and who they threw it to. After completion, we try it again in the same order but just say our names. While they are doing it, I secretly time them with my iphone. After they complete the task, I ask them how long they think it took them to complete the task with an over/under questionnaire writing different times on the board. Once we settle on a time, we try again, in the same order, while they know they are being timed. Often times, this score is the worst one, because they are rushing too much and make bad throws. Also, they don’t have to say anything anymore. Just throw the ball to each other in the correct order. So, after the second completion, I tell them, “I have seen a group of thirty-two students do this activity in under 30 seconds”. After the students tell me it’s impossible, I allow them to speak to each other in English to brainstorm how to make the completion time faster. If they are using Chinese, I run up to them like Jim Carey in When Nature Calls, when he’s in the middle of the aborigine tribe dance and make obscene noises while miming armpit farts and other noise making poses. Once they have settled on a new plan, I time them again. Usually, within one or two tries, they can get it to under thirty seconds (by moving out of the circle and into a smaller area while standing next to the person who threw them the ball so they can just pass it by hand instead of lobbing it across the room). After they have given themselves a well deserved pat on the back, I tell them, “I have seen 32 students do this activity in less than one second.” I let them ask me questions and brainstorm in English, and give them two opportunities to try for the one second time. I’ve only had one class solve the problem.
Group challenges are about problem solving. Once you figure out what the true problem is, the solution becomes brilliantly simple. I have many students beg for the answer, I have been bribed by classes, and I’ve also been called a tremendous liar. But it’s true. 32 students, less than one second.
ANYWAYS. The group of 31 girls. We tried this activity at Hefei Normal University. THE FIRST GIRL TO THROW THE BALL chucked it like a Randy Johnson two-seam fastball to home plate, but instead of home plate, it was some other girls head. Thankfully, the girl managed to get out of the way in time and the ball skipped off a desk, everyone laughed, the ball kept it’s motion, skipped off another desk, laughter continued as I began moving my body towards the direction of the ball, the ball skipped off another desk and flew directly out the window and down five stories.
To quote Obi-one, “It was like a million voices screamed out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” Except it was thirty one ear piercing screams followed by shrill laughter. I have to say that teaching next to my classroom must be difficult for the other teachers/classes that are actually learning real college subject matter.
Sorry, quick mention. If you were on Alderaan, and you had no idea that the moon like structure that was approaching your planet was about to fire a green beam of energy, that somehow mysteriously is able to connect to a single point in space (as opposed to all the energy beams just continuing their linear paths like all lasers do), to destroy your planet, would you have any time to scream in terror? I would imagine if a bomb were to land in my apartment from OUTERSPACE, it would be flying at such a high velocity that it would land and detonate and explode me to dust before my brain would even register the sound of explosion, would it not? Always had a problem with that one. Sorry, moving on.
It's time to learn.
Apparently, Alderaans temperature is uniform on a global scale.
Fact 1. Babies are no match for the power of the force.
Fact 2: Rowling oversights are many.
Fact 3: This just happened
Fact 4: Perhaps the most elementary of lifes lessons.
Fact 5: Because we want to believe Macho Man Randy Savage is still able to provide wisdom in spirit form.
Fact 6: Florida State fans are unique and caring individuals.
Fact 7: Never allow continents to Voltron. Consequences include dinosaurs.
Fact 8: This is fake
Fact 9: This is real
Fact 10: Money isn't supposed to make sense in videogames.
Fact last: This is how the rest of the world views phelps.
Back in a bit...
So I haven't posted on my blog in about a month and it's partly due to a number of issues:
A) I've been busy! I am teaching at two schools this semester which roughly equates to 150 more students, more classes, more homework, and more prep time. While I am obviously not swamped twenty-four seven, this semesters free time has a new value to it and I'm trying to distribute good amounts of free time into studying Chinese, dating Chinese girls, hanging out with friends, exercising and sports, general recreation (bars, arcades, shopping), and working with the new guy.
OH SNAP. Yeah, so we got a new teacher this year. His name is Daniel. He is a nice kid. That's about all he has revealed to me so far and he's shadowed me a few days in the school and in the city. He doesn't really have ANYTHING to say, which is kind of a drag on the 'i want to converse with a native speaker' front because it's like talking to a rock that smiles and says 'sure' a lot. We do promotional stuff for our international program and everyone comes up to me for a photo and he just kinda pretends to be interested in something on the floor. It's totally unfair in the fact that i'm pretty used to the photo swarming and general curiosity of chinese boys and girls (sometimes, the boys are more fanatical than the girls, which is weird) but he is having to adjust to the bizarre microscope that foreigners live under here in China. That and he's a bit on the dumpy side. Like i wouldn't call him fat-fat but he's... fatty.
You know what i'm talking about.
Anyways, if this was a pie chart of my free time activities, it would look delicious with cherries on top. (for a brief moment in time, i debated about making a pie chart in photoshop to illustrate percentages and then decided, "forgettaboutit")
B) Life has been a little bit boring after the bat attack. To be fair to my readers, it would be a stretch to say that anything exciting at all has happened. In general, i used to just plow ahead with the blog anyways, often converting my "life adventure in China" into a three thousand word joke about Star Wars and George Lucas's chin. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but it just gets stale after a while.
speaking of which...
C) Darth Vader came down from the planet Vulcan and said if I didn't take Lorraine to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, that he would melt my brains. That's reason enough to not write on this blog for a month.
Tangent 1: Is this not the greatest scene of all time in any movie ever? Michael J. Fox in a HAZMAT suit BREAKS INTO his future fathers house pretending to be Darth Vader, inserts an Eddie Van Halen tape into his walkman while in the house and not outside it, reveals the Vulcan hand sign for living long and prospering, and, thanks to the magic of hollywoord, we are able to cut scene without the awkwardness of dealing with the scene directly after in where Marty Mcfly has to leave the house in a HAZMAT suit. "Just go back to sleep now. Because i have to leave.... And don't call the police or anything, because that would be bad. Just... just go back to sleep now, so i can make an exit. Back to Vulcan i suppose. Are your eyes closed yet?"
Tangent 2: Marty McFly would have destroyed science fiction as we know it. His father was a science fiction writer and as we find out at the end of the movie, he becomes a successful and published writer. This was BEFORE his close encounter with Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan. There definitely would have been some horrible cross-over story written about Vader from Vulcan, wearing a Yellow suit instead of a black one, saving the galaxy from the evil captain kirk and his band of renegade space pirates, similar to Cortes and the Starjammers, except even lamer because the entire crew would have been green blooded logical Romulans who were deciples of the Dark Side. I'm actually just now considering if this monstrosity would be worth the tradeoff of never having to see star wars: episodes one, two, and three again... hmmm. Will have to consider this.
Tangent 3: The last time i listened to a walkman was at Fleischman Park summer camp. The tape was M.C Hammer of course.
Tangent 4: The Eddie Van Halen song used in the movie was actually written for another movie called "The Wild Life 1984" and the track is titled 'donut city'.
Tangent 5: You're Welcome
Tangent 6: I will one day write a ten thousand word dissertation about the causation of collapsing future time-lines from the characters in the Back to the Future series and from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Not even for school or anything like that. Just independent research. Because I'm extremely gangster like that.
Tangent 7: Edward Van Halen named a song DONUT CITY. I bet you just glanced over that the first time I wrote it without even considering how asinine it is to name a rock and roll electric guitar solo 'Donut City'.
D) I'm debating on whether or not to change the entire direction of the blog. The first year was exciting because everything was new and things seemed different to me, but now, I can hardly notice anything weird about the chinese culture. So there are less 'BLOG' moments in my life. Like when the guy on the scooter crashed with his bag of spaghetti, i said to myself "BLOG" and it was recorded for the masses. Now, when i see stuff like that, i just shrug my shoulders and keep doing whatever i was doing. So for now, while i have less material to write about, i'm updating less and less.
So those are my reasons, or at least, most of my reasons for not making updates.
I did go to Nanjing a few weeks back for a visit. Some of you might know it by it's second moniker, Nanking. They are one and the same. It's basically the city that got destroyed by the Japanese Invasion in World War II. The city itself is much more traditional than Hefei. The city is still very modern but it has a lot of the old chinese architecture incorporated into the city and they love the red lanterns. Those things were everywhere. I was in Nanjing for two days and went to all the touristy spots. I visited the Mausoleum of the 'father of modern Chinese Thinking' which was on top of a mountain. Like, everytime you saw a huge gate-like structure, you were like, "Great! Made it to the top!" and it turned out to just be some decorative superstructure designed to fool tourists into thinking they had walked a reasonable distance. Behind each gate was more stairs, leading to another large gate structure that might be the actual mausoleum. I'm almost fairly certain, though i can't read chinese, that atop each gate, large chinese characters in gold read, "You're not there yet. But take a look at the foreigners. They think they're at the mausoleum. This will get funnier as we go up the mountain. Feel free to take pictures of their confusion. Five more gates to go." The actual backstory for the guy that was buried there was, he was like most chinese dudes of his time, then he went to America to study, and he came back to China and single handedly revolutionized the culture. I'm not saying that Chinese education is bad, because it isn't. In many ways, it's better than western education. But it's so rooted in tradition that the philosophies have become extremely narrow-minded. So like, one average guy who receives a western education can come back and revolutionize one billion people. He basically ripped off the Gettysburg Address and translated, 'Government of the people, by the people, for the people' into Chinese. This obviously had a nice ring to it to the seven hundred million some-odd peasants living in China at the time and they took quite a shine to it.
Tangent 8) It's also at this point that i want to make a Morgan and Morgan joke that won't make any sense to anyone outside of Naples, Ft. Myers Florida.
Tangent 9) Additionally, the Florida businessman who was recently convicted of killing his wife... His defense attorney was named Kirk Kirkconnell. From a young age, Kirk Kirkconnell took an interest in law, at first to see how he would go about legally changing his name, and then, what the consequences of first degree murder of his own parents would be. Later, he decided, this name rules as far as 'catchy-ness' goes and ultimately, 'I'm keeping it'. My parents, God bless 'em, are in heaven now, but their bodies are decomposing in a vat of acid somewhere in Hell's Kitchen, New York.
Tangent 10) There was a brief moment in time where my roommate had posted a printed sign of "Hell's Kitchen" on his door, we frequently walked around the apartment with stockings over our faces, and had minor infatuations with Indian Larry and other motorcycle gangsters. Thus, the legend of Indian Larry was born. And more importantly, my full fledged acceptance of being a weirdo. I mean, i always knew i was one, even in highschool, but this was just complete confirmation. That, and we also had a life size Boba Fett cardboard cutout by the window next to the front door, so that when you walked in, you were greeted by Mandalorian Patrol. And it also made it look like some dude was always standing by the window at night when we had the lights on.
So the all-father of modern thinking was enshrined on top of Purple Mountain in Nanjing and the whole shabang was actually very nice.
I also went to some famous lake. It's famous for a love story and not really the lake itself. They say when you see the lake, you forget all your memories and cares. Sort of like how Andy Dufrense explains the Pacific Ocean to Red in The Shawshank Redemption. 'They say the Pacific has no memory'.
Tangent 11) The first time i saw that movie (62 viewings ago), when Red goes to the old wheatfield in Buxton, the one with the oak tree at the north end that looks like it's out of a Robert Frost poem, and finds the piece of Volcanic Glass in a rock wall, and then unearths the tin that Andy had left for him there.... sorry, SPOILER ALERT. As he's reading the letter, he reads, "Do you remember the place?". For my first viewing, i couldn't remember the name at all. Partly because it was mentioned like, forty minutes ago in real time and also partly because the name was in Spanish. I always imagined Red forgetting the name of that town in Mexico and just being stumped as hell as where to go next. Or possibly going to the wrong town, like, Tijuanna or something. Sort of like a black mans Marcus Brody moment where he's stumbling around in some Middle Eastern country asking if anyone speaks English while everyone tries to sell him live chickens, except it's in Mexico and everyone's trying to sell him drugs.
Tanget 12) If Andy Dufresne was truly a 'rock hound', I would suspect that he would know the name of volcanic glass. That always bothered me about the movie. Obsidian isn't the only type of volcanic glass but it's the one most commonly linked to Volcanic glass. I feel like he would take the time to better describe what Red should be looking for. I mean, not whether the rock is basaltic or not, or it's silica content level, but at least it's proper geologic namesake. I mean, Red looks like the kinda guy who didn't really apply himself in school and has been in prison for the last forty years of his life as a convicted felon. Not exactly a cultivating environment for brain exercises. We want to make sure he can find the secret rock and knows what it looks like.
Anyways, so this lake has no memories. The love story involves some lady, a beauty to be sure, and how she...
wait for it
wait for itttttt.
Kills herself! Yes, of course, the ultimate tragic tale of life taking. Nothing more romantic. It seems like there are quite a few Chinese tales that end in suicide. I already told you about the Dragon Boat Festival and how it's a holiday based completely off of someone just offing themselves in a river. The famous lake in Nanjing is just about the same, except it's a girl, and their are no national holidays associated with this suicide. The lake did have GIANT lillies that made you feel like you were on Avatar. I will make exactly ZERO tangents about that movie.
One thing I should mention about Nanjing is that they are crazy about duck. 烤鸭 . The duck in Nanjing is much different from it's Beijing counterpart in that it is served with a more salty taste. I think it's delicious. But every store you went to, they had these ducks in air sealed bags just piled on top of one another. It was really strange. I was with a tour group (it was all chinese with a chinese tour guide so my understanding was limited) and the guide actually spent some time with the group in a store telling us how to pick good ducks. They also sold duck heads in little bags too. Those you can find in most big grocery stores here but they were everywhere in Nanjing.
Speaking of weird food, I had a friend visit me from another city and he brought this local 'snack'. It was basically some kind of grassy/fruit type thing with a chewy skin. I know that isn't the best description to go by but this thing is very unique to that local area. I popped it in my mouth and was surprised at how minty it tasted from the get-go. You know right away that something isn't quite right when the friend who gave you the food is watching you chew with a curious smile on their face. After about a minute of chewing, you feel physically hot, something similar to being good and drunk, and your breathing actually slows down by a significant pace. It's a mildly distorting high that sort of just sets you down on whatever piece of furniture you end up on, and it continues for as long as you keep chewing or until the substance is completely ingested. Apparently, the people where this thing originates from chew the stuff at all times of the day. It's like a five minute 'get your brain crazy' high that you can snack on whenever you want. It works really fast because you are ingesting it and absorbing it through the saliva in your mouth. Pretty fun stuff.
That was the description I would give you if I didn't investigate the matter any further. The real story is it was literally a wild seed of the Ephedra Sinica plant. It's a natural drug that is both a stimulant and a thermogenic. That explains why you get hot after you ingest it. The feeling of 'good and drunk' comes from the brain stimulation from areas of the brain that have more receptors towards the ephedrine drug like the judgment and decision making area of your brain. It constricts your blood vessels and increases heart rate. The feeling of 'slowing down' your breathing is actually not an accurate description. The drug expands your bronchial tubes which simply makes breathing much easier. It wasn't that you were breathing slower, it was just simply that each breath you took in accumulated more air than a normal breath and thus, your body does not need to breathe in air for longer periods of time. When you think about it like that, it sounds awesome! I know that it's banned in a lot of major sports competitions because of this unfair boost in oxygen intake. Still. Drugs. They are crazy. The Ephedra Sinica plant, much like the Cannabis plant, grow wild in parts of China.
Purple mountain gate number 1
Purple Mountain gate number 2
Purple Mountain gate number 22
Purple Mountain gate 'i don't even know anymore'
The actual mausoleum
Nanjing reminds me a lot of North Carolina when you're farther from the city.
Avatar Lillies in the 'lady who killed herself' lake.
The tragically suicidal woman is remembered forever through this statue.
A temple buddha in Nanjing.
Tangent 13) Most buddhist temples are adorned with the swastika symbol. Of course, this was used in many different countries and well before the Nazi party decided on a national flag. For the better part of three thousand years, the swastika was used as a symbol of peace and harmony. So if you go visit buddhist temples, don't flip out when you see swastikas all over the place. But you know, feel free to flip out if you see it tattooed on the back of some tourists head. Because then, it probably doesn't stand for peace.
This lake was in the middle of some dudes home. I'm pretty sure it separated his familys quarters from his concubines quarters. Nice life.
I don't know if I've ever been scared of Koi but if I were to have fallen into that pond, I might be mistaken for food and devoured/skeletonized in seconds. There were so many koi swimming in this pond, it was insane. It was like the ShangHai of lakes. Just a ton of fish living in a small area.
Tangent 14) My father had an affinity for Japanese Koi and even built a small pond in front of our house so he could have five or six of them swim around in there. Unfailingly, the entire breed of Koi would die randomly after so many months and my father would have to drain the pond (to which he did often enough for general cleaning and maintenance) to remove them. Draining and cleaning a pond takes a bit of time and to help make the work pass by quicker, he would sing a very simple melody. It was sort of like a eulogy to the fish that had recently passed. I will now present to you the lyrics to this masterpiece. *Sang to the tune of Jimmy-Crack-Corn* "I killed Koi, and I don't care" *toss fish* "I killed Koi, and i don't care". I can remember at least four instances of this occuring though i'm sure that number is much higher than four. For whatever reason, he could never keep the darn things happy enough to live. Sort of like Padme in Star Wars 3, where she gives birth and 'loses the will to live'. C'mon floaty-nurse droid, just give it to us straight. She is dying because the love scenes with Anakin and Padme were soap opera 'good' at best and 'order dominos pizza and rip open the pizza box and stab two fresh slices of 'za into your eyes while telling the delivery boy "The money is underneath the garden gnome. Now just leave me here to die in horrible pizza death" bad at worst. I might consider killing myself if my profession was acting and that was my best go.
Tangent 15) Leia specifically tells Luke that she only knew her mother when she was younger, and that she was beautiful and kind. Remember, the scene where they're on the ewok wooden bridge network with tiki torches? How could she have possibly known her mother when she dies shortly after child birth? It's just physically impossible to have detailed memories of your first ten minutes of life. I'm almost 90% positive that George Lucas developed a second brain in his chin; a negative-retard brain sometime in the early nineties and tried to cover it up with neck hair and called it good. There's just no explaining story errors like this. There's no justification of creating characters like Jar Jar Binks. It must be because of the second negative-retard brain. It's the only explanation.
I also went to a functioning buddhist temple where these giant incense sticks were burned. They taught you how to pray and things like that. There were a bunch of monks just sitting around reading the newspaper and stuff. I also saw monks in nanjing get out of a Ford Fusion and walk into a restaurant like they weren't violating some ancient code of correctness or something. A bit of a let down really.
All science fiction fans are nodding their head vigorously in understanding. There is one nerd in the back who is saying, "NUh UH. Shai-Hulud should be about five times bigger". And he would of course be correct. Science Fiction fans are never wrong. You must understand this as a fundamental phenomenon that exists in nature.
OH LORD. I FIGURED OUT HOW TO POST MOVING IMAGES.
Reason #1 why Star trek: The next generation will NEVER be as cool as the original series. There really are no other reasons after Reason #1. Give me one hundred reasons why you think it's better than the original series and i will simply point at this picture and shake my head like a sad panda.
I will stop here. Because now i have a reason to update. Just post more of these every week. For enjoyment.
I will return with a photo-riffic blog post of my new digs. For now, enjoy a picture i drew and colored this week.
This girl BLASTED by me on her hello kitty scooter, honking like a maniac for others to get out of her way. Like she was late to the Bright Pink Baubles Convention. About ten yards down the road, i saw her pulled over and looking at some shiney things somebody was selling on the street. So easily distracted by things you can put in your hair. One of the many defects of their kind.
Also, weak arms.*
Yes. Girls ride side saddle.
And yes, hello kitty scooters exist. And i have also seen men riding them too.
I've also seen minnie mouse helmets on men.
Gahhhh. Seans; focus. http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjgwODc5NT
Back in a bit.
I was talking about something... Oh. The bat. After having an episode of perfectly shrill terror and running back to my room, i returned to the kitchen to close the sliding door. I had to trap that sucker before i figured out what i was going to do with it. I could see that he had stopped swarming about the kitchen and had come to a rest on top of my stoves smoke collector/spitter-outer device.
You know what i'm talking about.
That thing. Anyways, he was looking right at me, which is to say, his nose was pointing in my direction because bats are completely blind as per wikipedia and if anyone tells me other wise, they can go have a word with the free sharing of information-pedia and make a public correction. It's at times like these, when we're staring down flying vermin at one in the morning... and YOU'RE HUNGRY (don't forget, i was going for a snack) that you really need to have a medallion of super natural oneness around your neck to clutch onto. In the words of the great Jim Carey, "The spirit will overcome. The spirit will overcome." I made my move to slam the sliding glass door shut but the noise kick started the bat into it's flying nonsense and he shot out of the kitchen and into the living room like... like a bat... out of a kitchen. I was momentarily possessed by the spirit of Rainn Wilson as i screamed "BATTTTTTTTT" and fell backwards into my room door, kicking it shut to the horrifying sound of leathery wings flapping around in my living room.
Go Time. I put on a hoodie, zipped it up, tied the hood tight around my face like we did when we pretended we were ninjas (and i say that like it's a long and distant childhood memory but in all reality, i do it every night before i go to bed. I dress as a ninja and snoop around the house on a regular basis. for my health) and cracked open my door to see the darn thing doing the Pepsi 200 around my living room. The thing wouldn't stop flying. Five minutes later, i cracked open my door again and he was still doing circles.
The Spirit will overcome.
The Spirit will overcome.
I opened the door and did the hostage run, where you're essentially running in a full crouch with your head down, and made my way to the sliding glass door. I didn't know if noise attracted them or repelled them (wikipedia was unhelpful in this area) so i just didn't say anything as i was moving. Along the way, i picked up a broom (it was like old times, fighting roaches in my dorm room in college. A broom can be like a medallion of supernatural oneness. Comforting and powerful.). I pulled my porch sliding glass door open all the way to give it a big enough entrance to depart but like i said before, this thing was in a race, and he was determined to finish. After i openly began swatting at it with a broom, he darted straight into my bathroom and perched itself on the screen of the window (screen now has battle damage in the form of two claws and a mouth hole). It would've been easy to just close the door to the bathroom and let the thing die in a few days. But i'm the human and it's the vermin and the foodchain of life tells me if i want the use of my downstairs bathroom, than the bat must go. Additionally, i was dressed like a ninja and it was not. And this is why humans rule the planet. Is there any other creature on this planet that has the ability to dress like a ninja at will? Nay. Only the human race. I got the thing to fly out of the bathroom and again, began trying to get it to fly out the sliding glass door. After many unsuccessful attempts, it did something unanticipated. It flew up the stairs. I wasn't brave enough to follow it for two reasons.
1) There is 1/5 of the floor space upstairs as their is downstairs. There is no real way to get to windows easily up there to open.
2) Rabies is an incurable disease as per Michael Scott and i didn't want to be a victim. The thought of people doing Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-am Fun Run Race For The Cure ... wouldn't be very appealing to me.
I let the thing have it's hard fought for victory. Closed all the downstairs doors while leaving the sliding door open should it decide to fly back downstairs again, and went to bed. The next morning, i woke up and went to class. When i came back, i thought about doing my laundry. The laundry machine is on the second floor. THE SECOND FLOOR. I ran upstairs and peeked in all the rooms. No sign of the bat. The spirit will overcome. I closed all the doors, checked everywhere downstairs, and then, when i felt secure, i closed the sliding glass door. Two possibilities.
1) The bat is trapped in a room upstairs and will eventually die (and or, find a nest of spiders, feed on those for years, give birth to more bats because it was pregnant and that's my luck, and when i next open the door, some months down the line, there will be a bat colony living in my upstairs room).
2) It flew back downstairs while i was sleeping and went out the only exit available to it.
Either way, i am uncertainly victorious. It is now my duty to remind myself when i wake up everyday that there is/is not a bat in the upstairs rooms and not to open them for a while.
The spirit will overcome.
1) Teaching at a learning institute for children
2) Piranha fish head
3) Piranha fish body
4) Concert Hall
5) Engrish T-Shirt at the Concert
6) My boss Jackie getting her CD signed by the Violinist
I met a man the other day who was the driver for one of my tutor students mother. Confusing? A little bit. The whole scenario is kinda creepy but the student is a great kid who needed help on his VISA interview to study in America. I'll let you see what the red, white, and blue asks these Chinese students in the interview. It's sorta hilarious and kinda depressing at the same time. I'll get to the driver guy in a minute. For now; VISA interview questions:
In your opinion, who is the greatest President in U.S history? (do you know anything about our magnificent leaders?)
- who is the greatest world leader? (are you a communist?)
Give three reasons why you will return back to China after your studies. (you better be going back... OR ELSE)
Do you have relatives or family that live in America? (because we don't want you to stay like they did)
What is your plan after you finish your studies? (better be leaving the country)
What is your favorite color? (red = communist)
Now, there are other questions that help figure out the financial status of the student but some of those questions i listed above are a bit odd. I especially like the question that commands students to give reasons why they will not stay in America. Students that are applying for their VISA in the proper procedure studying in American Universities. To be honest, they would be pretty good candidates for staying in the U.S as opposed to the illegal immigrants coming in from other countries with the intention of getting free education from the public school system and GENERALLY bringing very little trade/academic skills to the country. This is always a touchy topic so I won't yammer about it too much but I will leave you with this interesting fact. Public Elementary Schools are not allowed to check the citizenship and or legality of residence of their student body. As long as their is a home address within the proper zone or district, the child will receive free education until they are 18 years of age. SURPRISE!
Ok, back to the driver guy. This man wore a very serious expression no matter what the conversation in the room was like. When the guy looked at me, he raised both eyebrows up and down several times at me and then looked away. I thought to myself, "that was really odd" and continued eating food. He ended up doing it to me again and i pondered whether the guy was giving me the eye or something. It was a little creepy given the situation with all these people around at the dinner table. I was borderline mortified at the thought of having to tell him to stop giving me the eye in the middle of dinner. I just stared at my food trying not to make eye contact with him for a few minutes. Then i sneaked a glance at the guy to see if he was staring at me and to my relief, he was also looking at his food with an empty stare. It wasn't quite the thousand mile stare but he was definitely lost in thought while looking at his bowl of rice. And then the weirdest thing in the world happened. He started giving his bowl of rice the eye raising his eyebrows up and down several times. At this point, i'm thinking there are one of two situations that could be plausible.
Situation 1. This guy is just really lonely and giving everything under the sun the eye. This didn't seem totally plausible since I've never heard of a guy getting into food that way but China's neighbors, those crazy Japanese, will marry dolls and take their life size wife-dolls to the park for tea and all that weirdy japanese stuff. So it certainly wasn't out of the realm of possibility to fall for a bowl of food. I mean, one lady tried to marry the Eiffel Tower and i think someone else had the hots for the Berlin Wall. Moments like these make us realize the world is a strange and severe place and not everyone is wired the same way.
Situation 2. This guy had uncontrollable eyebrow twitch syndrome in where his forehead muscle involuntarily contracted to raise his eyebrows up and down every now and again. I've never seen this before but i imagine it could also be pretty plausible. I recall he said he was in the military and it could be some kind of reflex action to hearing all those loud bangs and guns firing. Like an uncontrollable flinch syndrome. I decided this is what i would lean on in my investigation.
Sure enough, he ended up giving the bowl of fish, the student, the waiter, and the wall the eye before dinner was done. I felt relieved for about three seconds because he wasn't trying to tell me anything covert but then started feeling bad for the guy. That must be hard to go through life like that. I can imagine that would cause quite a stir in clubs and bars but also be a great way of non-intentionally meeting new girls of varying degrees of beauty. Also men. Of course, in China, homosexuality is fairly taboo but getting a little more acceptable with young people in big cities. Hefei actually has a gay bar/club but most students are pretty uncomfortable talking about the subject.
I taught at a jr. language school 1) in addition to my other summer gig and it's always pretty fun working there. I've actually done it before and the kids are anywhere from 9-15. Most of the time, they just end up freaking out when i show them pictures of dolphins and shells. Like, they literally erupt with noise when the crocodile picture comes up. We talk about some things, i do a lesson in their little book that is accompanied by a TAPE CASSETTE of some English accent woman talking about the lesson and they all follow along. Sometimes, we sing songs, sometimes we do arts and crafts, and most times we play games. They don't really learn too much and they don't understand too much but to my knowledge, my job is to get them excited about learning English and learning about foreigners. I've got those two things covered pretty well. For the younger kids, we did a paper folding activity where you make those little fortune tellers that open and close and you choose numbers or colors and then spell out the word like O-N-E or Y-E-L-L-O-W and then open up the fortune to reveal a message. Yeah, those things. Well, i about finished handing out the paper for the activity, and then held up my sheet of paper and was about to tell them to fold their paper like a hamburger when one of the kids held up a finished fortune teller. Many others were finishing the final folds. I should have known that something that simple would take five seconds considering these kids are origami ninjas by the age of 9. I had planned the activity to take twenty minutes. It took about 90 seconds for everyone to finish. Uhhhhh, lets go outside and play a game! The school itself is actually an apartment that's been gutted out and the bedrooms are converted classrooms. The rooms are tiny. In the picture, i'm smashed up against the wall while i teach.
One thing i found out when i went back to America was people had a lot of questions about strange things I've eaten in China. I didn't have a satisfactory answer because the food i ate over here didn't seem strange to me. But now that i have my iphone working, i have a camera on me at all times. So i took a picture of dinner last night 2), 3). I'm assuming it's piranha because that's the only fish i know that has teeth. One picture is of the head, the other is of the entire body with some seasoning and spice. It wasn't as good as the local lake fish here but it wasn't bad either.
I went to the Hefei Grand Theater again tonight but this time, i got to go into the concert hall 4). Usually, performances are held in the bigger stage setting, but this was a recital of sorts and i finally got to go into the concert hall. It was pretty nice and the violinist was some prodigy kid that was now grown up. He was very good as was the pianist but the thing that killed me during the performance were the photographers in the hall. There were two of them with these giant telescopic lense cameras who would take pictures during the softest musical parts of the performance and everyone could here them. It was kind of annoying. I even saw one of them tell a patron they had to relinquish their seat so the photographer could sit in her seat and take pictures. It was a little outrageous but that's just how it goes in China. And to verify, YES, if you get a phone call, you must answer it. During the recital, even my boss picked up her phone. She was very discreet and didn't bother anyone and her phone was on silent, but it was in the middle of a performance! I remember giving a lecture in a mega classroom of some three hundred kids and one of them got a phone call, answered it "WEI???" stood up (by now, everyone in the room was staring at him because i was staring at him), went to the curtains by the windows, stuck his head in the curtains with the rest of his body still in the auditorium and had a full conversation. It was actually pretty hilarious because of it's shock value, but these people will answer the phone in any situations. I've seen it in movie theaters, concert halls, lectures, performances, everything. And even people that know better or, i shouldn't say know better, people that would consider it rude do it too. Most of you reading this know me, and if you know me, you know that ignore is my favorite button on the phone. Leave me a message, i'll listen to it right after you call. But talking is only reserved for times when i really feel like it. It's nothing personal. It's not that i don't like you or anything like that. Most of my close friends understand this how i operate and wisely will leave a detailed message of what they were calling about. And if they were calling just to talk, then it was a time when i didn't want to talk, and everything is gravy. But the Chinese are exact opposites. It might be because their phones and cell phones have NO answering machines or message services. Let me repeat that for effect. THEY HAVE NO VOICE MESSAGING. The phone just rings and rings and rings until the person on the other end hangs up. It's such an infernal system, you have no idea how frustrating it is. Sure, shooting a text message is very practical, but there are always times when you can't type out everything or it's impractical to type out everything (in a car, on a boat, playing cards, etc... ok, i realize, none of these are great examples. Maybe the car is an okay example. the rest are just me not having any creative example for you)
5) The Engrish t-shirt is just hilariously bad. I know i've mentioned on this blog that i pride myself on my abilities to type like a foreign retard but I honestly can't do it any better than the real thing. It's in it's purest form when it's being produced for realsies but with every intention of being correct English. It's just about impossible to authentically fabricate. I look for these shirts to buy for myself but i can never find them in my size. My boss is also wearing a shirt with semi-Engrish. You can clearly see the words COWBOY SHIT on her shirt. Yes. She wore that to a Concert performance at the Grand Hefei Theater.
Until next time space cowboys...
1. Iphone Rhinestone
2. Monkey King Noodles
3,4. Making my lunch
5. End product, six yuan or .90 cents USD
6. Harry Potter Chinese movie poster (Ha Lee Bo Duh (phonetics))
I'm back in China and I hit the ground running. I remember returning to America a month ago and being completely exhausted and incapable of functioning for a few days from the hardcore jet-lag // brutal traveling experience. That was not the case on the return voyage. I got back into Shanghai PuDong International at 4 pm on FRIDAY. Let me just say that again. 4pm on FRIDAY in Downtown Shanghai. That was an absolute madhouse. Rush hour in one of the largest urban cities in the world can be tough to navigate on a good day but with luggage, it's a nightmare. I took the subway to get to the train station and kept thinking about my dear old dad trying to persuade me to bring my guitar to China. I'm glad i didn't end up bringing it because i would've just abandoned it on the 2 line. The train station was like Wall Street (depicted in Trading Places) with everyone scrambling to buy tickets for the weekend journey home. I made it to the right ticket window on my second attempt and managed to understand that there weren't any more trains going to Hefei that same night. I've been making it a habit of spending the night in mass transit stations so Shanghai was next on my list until some security guard told me I had to get out because they were closing... at 9:30 pm. I got a crummy hotel close to the station, was offered a massage for an additional fee (i.e. a whore), declined, and then got up at five in the morning to knocking on my door. Wait. Backtrack. My room didn't have an alarm clock (or any kind of clock for that matter) and all my electronics were dead and charging was impossible because of the voltage change. So I did my best to talk to the girl at the front to CALL me at five in the morning so i could wake up and get to the train station by 6:30 to catch my morning speed train. Well, apparently, my explanation was a little off because they sent someone to knock on my door at five a.m. I opened it up with my hair sticking in every direction and some bell boy was standing there looking at his toes with great interest as he said, "Wu Dian". I just sort of stared at him for a while, said, "Hao", and closed the door. I got a pretty big bang out of it later but at the time, it was just weird.
Safely back in Hefei, I didn't have time to fully unpack because i had to pay some bills to get the power back up and running and then was invited to dinner by my boss. I get there and she's already invited a new student seeking private tutoring, eagerly awaiting instruction from me while my brain is a little whacky from the traveling and time change. There has apparently been a queue created since I left of students wanting tutoring and this kid was first in line. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, i put in two hours tutoring after dinner, went home for a snooze, woke up the next day and taught classes and did more private tutoring. And that's kinda how my first week back went. I actually tutored one student 11 hours in one week in addition to regular classes. On top of that, i did two education expos to promote our international program this week. Since I can't quite speak the language in a way that would be helpful in these situations, i just hand out information pamphlets in stupid ways and everyone thinks it's the greatest thing in the world. I was interviewed by a newspaper and they wanted to know if i had any experience doing information handouts. At first, i thought it was because i clearly had no idea what i was doing but it turns out that they thought my methods were great. And by great, i mean annoying and silly. I would follow people around the expo waving paper in front of their faces until they took it. When a really short girl came up to me wanting information, i would hold it up as high as i could. I'd pull the old, here you are, WHOOPS, here you are, Zoinks, here you are, NARF, here are you are, routine where you are constantly moving the paper around while they reach for it. At some point during one of the expos, one of my co-workers stuck an Irish flag in my backpack and that became an activity of placing as many random zany things on my bag/head as i walked around handing out pamphlets. I also did a T.V interview for a local Hefei news station and was extremely tempted to end my interview with, "You have one day..." in honor of Michael Scott, but i didn't want my translator to flub up the meaning (the interview was promoting our college, so, yeah, no goofing around). Anyways, i'm sure by now, there is a legend being built around the school and city about how i handed out seventy billion pamphlets while fighting off zebra striped tigers in moon shoes because all the staff in attendance there just raved about how great i was at attracting attention.
In other news, i need to mention the rhinestone phone. I know that there have been some seriously tricked out rhinestone accessories but what i have to report on takes the impractical cake. Observe:
The phone was a chinese rip-off i-phone that they sell for like, five dollars, so you can get a good comparison of size. The head of the bear is the size of a tennis ball. Imagine gluing a tennis ball to the back of your phone and making a call with it. I won't bother to give you time to reflect on that, because you can't. You can't imagine how impractical and useless the idea is. It was dreamed up by a visionary that happens to be the daughter of one of the schools higher ups who i had dinner with this week. To give proper credit, she made the darn thing by herself so that's pretty crafty but still ridiculously impractical.
I'm going to try and report on my regular sightings with some photo-journalism so i'll introduce the place where i grabbed noodles for lunch today. I don't know the name of the restaurant so i call it the Monkey King Noodles. They have this giant poster 2. for some live action movie of the Monkey King against the wall of their restaurant and it helps me find the place with ease. They serve a lot of different dishes there but there's really no point in getting anything other than the noodles. The noodles are made shortly after you order them. Literally, a guy goes to the front of the restaurant and takes dough, spins, twirls, and twirls some more, than throws it in a pot of boiling water 3,4. Shortly after, seasoning is applied along with the meat and you've got noodles in about three minutes 5.. They've got a crew of kids working in there. I think it's an internship type deal because the kids rotate out every few months and new ones come in. One of the little ones has been there since i first discovered it and he likes to try my sunglasses on. I let him play with my iphone today while i ate. The poor kids missing the index and middle finger on one of his hands but still manages to do all the restaurant chores with the other boys. He wanted to know how much the iphone costs and i quoted it at 200 bucks. I don't really know what an iphone 3g is going for these days but the fact that you can get pretty much the exact same stinking thing that was ripped off by chinese mad-scientists for 200 yuan (30 USD) makes it irrelevant.
Quick Movie Review; I saw Transformers Three: The transforming metal men that make loud sounds tonight and have some thoughts about it. For starters, it should be re-titled into
Reader notes for wordslam: I wrote this in the St. Louis airport and on the flight back to Shanghai. This is my journey back to AMERICA after ten months in China-Land.
The alarm goes off and I’m surprisingly awake for five in the morning. I didn’t prepare as well as I could have for my big day of traveling so my mind was up and running at the early hour mostly through incessant worrying and last minute decision making. I’m out the door fairly quickly and flagging down one of the morning taxi’s just outside of San Lian Da Xue which is the university I live next to. Hou Che Zhan! and we’re off! The cab ride is actually one of the longest cab destinations for me within the city of Hefei and I do my best to try and absorb as much of the city as I can before heading back to America. On gray mornings with light rainfalls, the city transforms into a dirty, muddy, and dreary place and I decide this is not how I want to remember Hefei so instead, I rummage through my bags to make sure I have everything I need (though it is far too late at this point for me to do anything if something is discovered to be missing). I get to the train station and I’m warmly greeted by two government officials who want to examine my travel papers. I set down my gear and start to rifle through papers when they collectively decide, “this is taking far too long for us to really care. Please move along.” I grabbed some Bao Tse in the morning before the taxi cab and decide to snack on them while I am waiting in the train station.
Hefei train station is a pretty impressive place to be. Towering ceilings dominate each room you enter and funny warnings are hung abruptly on the wall. While doing an eye perusal of the area, I spotted a sign with the ‘man’ symbol for male bathrooms, except it was turned sideways. In plain English, it read, “No Lying Down”. I made sure I would remain upright at all times during my stay. There are a lot of temptations to go horizontal, especially in train stations, but the writing on the wall was enough to deter me from such an attempt. I blended in pretty well among the general populous with my bag of Bao Tse. Neighbors to my left and right were snacking on boiled eggs, dumplings, peanuts, etc. Any time is a good time for eating in China. I remember teaching a class, and one of my students asked me if he could finish his snack in class. I said ‘Certainly’ and he proceeded to pull out an entire corn on the cobb and started chomping away at it. These are the not-surprising-things-anymore moments that have caused me to become disinterested in writing new blog material. Things like this just don’t phase me anymore. When they let us through the gates to board the train, I get a great look at the back end of it and it is mighty indeed. It’s more like an airplane or a jet nose attached to a train car. I’m excited to ride the famous speed train of Hefei and climb aboard the second car and find my seat, next to two business men. For starters, the speed train has assigned seating. This is amazing. Most normal trains have assigned seating when you board, and as soon as the train starts moving, it becomes any ones game to conquer seat corners, inbetween areas of seats, standing space in between your seat and the one in front of you and any area you could comfortably place a toothbrush in/on. The speed train was a totally westernized experience as far as seating went. Five minutes outside of the station and the business man to my right is already snoring. Some people can sleep on mass transportation with virtually no problems. I am not one of those people and gaze upon his abilities to pass out on a moving vehicle with wonder and awe. The train whips up to 255 km/h and poles, trees, and buildings become a psychedelic smorgasbord. That’s 150 mph to everyone out west. The ride is actually three hours long but we stop in Nanjing and a few other cities before hitting Shanghai (which ended up having several train stations). The ticket itself was 161 RMB which roughly equates to 26 bucks. Not a bad deal, especially when you consider the seating arrangements. A normal train will run you anywhere from 20-60 yuan for a seat and then you have to deal with all of the shenanigans. You can get tickets cheaper if you want to stand and pay more if you want a sleeper ticket (which is just a bunk rack with you and few other smelly people trying to catch some zzzz’s and not get lost with which stop you are getting off on.
After hopping off the train at it’s last stop, I turn to take one more look at the train and see that the waitresses and waiters are busy at work flipping the chairs to face the new direction of the train. Ingenious! The chairs are in threes in a bench formation, and they simply swivel around to face ‘forward’ as the train goes back to Hefei. I find my way to the subway station and have a look at the interactive touch screen map. It has an English button on the side and I find my destination on the #2 line. The NUMBER TWO line. Excellent. So, for those of you keeping track, I am taking the NUMBER TWO subway into Pu Dong international airport. I won’t go any further into why that is absolutely hilarious. So, I wait in line to purchase my ticket and I’m proud to say that I was the only foreigner in the subway station without a guide helping me get around. I buy my ticket for 8 RMB ($ 1.13 USD) and board the poop train. Shanghai is like ‘China Lite’. I would later have a conversation with an acquaintance that day about how people go to Shanghai and say, “I went to China!” but it’s not really a full China experience. So many foreigners on the streets, looking oddly out of place among the throng of black haired, average five foot five inch height mass of Chinese people moving about the city. Back to the Subway: The dang thing is streamless. You walk in and you can see from one end of the line to the other. There are no door separators for each car. It was the strangest thing. Sometimes, on the subway, you change cars because one is too rowdy or scary, or filled with smelly people, but there is virtually no escape in the Shanghai Subway. Your fate will be the same as everyone elses, including the one armed beggars who bow relentlessly to you for coins. There is one transfer station halfway through, and the ride is long (40 minutes or so) and uneventful.
I get to the Airport and find a Burger King and gloriously order a double whopper with onion rings for the first time in 10 months. It was delicious and golden and a definite mistake to be eating before boarding a sealed compartment with wings flying in the air for 14 hours. We’ll get to that action later. I need to mention that I randomly ran into Andy (my old shanghai roommate and visiting friend in February). I was standing at the ticket counter and I hear somebody say, “David?” It was an unbelievable coincidence to meet him there but even better still that we had the exact same flight going back to Chicago. We caught up on a lot of things while he also had Burger King and made some small chit chat with other foreigners (probably more foreigners in the restaurant than Chinese). We went back to wait by the Gate for our plane and in mid-conversation, I hear my name on the loudspeakers. I walk up to the gate counter and the lady takes my ticket from me. I ask if there is a problem. She tells me ‘No’ and says I’m being upgraded to business class. For those who have never done a fourteen hour journey on a 777 jet airplane, business class is a five thousand dollar round trip investment of luxurious bliss. And I got it for free. Nice deal. Andy is giving me grief about how lucky I am, and then we notice more names being called out over loudspeaker with the same results. It was like a lottery call. Eventually, when more people were realizing what was happening, it became like old The Price is Right, where everyone is super excited to hear a name called and wondering if they will be called next. ( and the reason I say OLD the price is right is because new price is right is not even close to the same excitement. Who wants to go join ‘witty’ Drew up on stage? The only real fire you ever see anymore is Plinko game participants. There’s hardly any ‘excited to be here’ participants. Those days are over. And Drew Carey murdered them with his fat burrito fists.)The bad thing is the flight is shortly delayed by an hour and a half, just enough time to miss my connecting flight from Chicago Ohaire to Miami … WHEEEEEE. So I get on board and find myself, again, in between two business men. I break the silence by asking everyone where they’re going, where they’re coming from, stuff like that. Turns out one gentleman is in the Make-up business working for companies like Revlon and such and is touching base with all of his businesses (mostly manufacturers in China). He’s been coming to China since 1989 and the current trip might be one of his last as he now needs oxygen during air travel. This would come in handy some hours later when everyone was sleeping and those Onion Rings had no way to get out of my body except through horrific and furious farts. If my flight experience was an in-flight movie, it would’ve been called Farts in the Sky: The Farts and the Furious with me just rolling around in my chair aiming farts at this guys head. So, considering one guy couldn’t smell them at all, I ‘aimed’ them in his direction for the majority of the flight (and yes, you can ‘aim’ farts though some are just too powerful for things like smell direction.) The other gentleman sells R.C equipment all around the world and manufactures here in China. The purpose of his business trip was to fire his GM and attend an R.C convention in Hong Kong (bet you didn’t think people would fly around the world to meet and … fly plastic planes and helicopters, didja? But they do.) We had some really good discussions about the economy and the industry opportunities in China and I was able to provide ‘the new generations’ viewpoint and way of thinking to a forty-something and sixty-something, to which, they found both beneficial and fun. I managed to shoot Andy a text while our plane was continuously delayed on the ground since he is big into business and will be operating a medicine company in China instead of teaching. He texted me back with a choice word phrase that starts with Mother F and ends in er. The seats had three majestic positions that were all self automated on some invisible hydraulic action (upright, relaxing recline, and nearly horizontal sleeping action). The person attending on us introduced herself by name and asked for all of our names. When she asked me, I delayed horrifically. I was trying to think of something outrageous so she would have to call me Kabongo for the entire flight, but I ended up just pausing for a very long time while everyone looked at me in a concerning manner (like, is this guy retarded or did he really just forget his name?). I eventually broke the silence with, “David” and acted like I didn’t just spend five minutes trying to remember my name. Champagne was provided, we received menus with a complimentary wine selection (the menu was five pages and they kept harping about this wine ‘selector’ who ‘chose’ the perfect wine for the flight. Two pages were the English menu, two pages were the same thing in Chinese, and the fifth page was a giant picture of this asshole wine selector and his entire biography. I can’t even imagine how much money that guy is making for selecting boring wines. Whataputz.). We had access to a zillion in flight movies on demand as well as T.V shows. Turns out, since everyone was business oriented (except me) that they all loved The Office, and as soon as I put it on, they followed suit, and we cracked up with our complimentary Bose-outside noise prevention headphones while the rest of the cabin felt really awkward. I also managed to watch Dinner for Shmucks with Steve Carrel and Zack Galfinakis. It was an amusing movie but not anything as comedically genius as that pair is capable of. I had brought a book to read and few other goodies but didn’t really need them with all the entertainment provided by American Airlines. Other goodies handed out to Business Class seats:
+ Travel Pack with toothbrush, socks, lip balm, other oddities
+ Bose Sound system Headphones
+ Free snacks all flight long
+ Movies on Demand
But again, I wouldn’t have minded taking my regular seat if we could’ve gotten to Chicago sooner. Without too many hiccups and one disastrous moment where I thought I flooded the entire compartment with noxious odors, the flight was uneventful… but the landing had a hilarious moment. We go into the ‘touch down’ sequence where the plane is imminently about to land when an old Chinese woman comes strolling down the aisle with a sick bag. We are literally 300 feet from the ground going to land in about ten seconds when a man comes on over the inter-com, “Mam, you need to sit down right now!” so she does a pirouette, coming dangerously close to smacking some poor business class seat customer in the head with a bag full of vomit and sits herself down on the arm of his chair. The intercom roared to life again as we could feel the nose of the plane begin to rise up, “Mam, you need to get into a seat immediately!”. She got back to her seat just in the nick of time as the wheels touched down. I kept thinking to myself, ‘I hope the pilot is not distracted by this commotion over the inter-com and thinks there will be some danger in landing the plane. It’s really a silly matter.” The landing went alright and we said our goodbyes and good-lucks to the business tycoons and off we went into different directions.
My flight to Miami, had already departed, so I spent my time in the American Airlines ticket line while everyone else waited on their bags (didn’t bring bags this time. Just carry on. BEST. IDEA. EVER. Taxi, Train, Subway, Airport, Airport is not a good combination of boarding, unloading, and baggage checking). There were no available flights leaving to Miami from Chicago and the best available time for departure the next day was in St. Louis. So I said, “Sure.” I was working on 30 hours of total traveling and I’d never been to St. Louis. Why not? Well, turns out, that’s where Andy was heading too. So we got to spend more time together waiting. About thirty minutes before our flight was getting ready to leave for St. Louis, Chicago Airport had a Tornado Warning and all flights were delayed. After about an hour of Tornado warning (to which we went to grab a slice of Chicago deep dish pizza) we went back to wait for our plane to be inspected and played a few dvd’s on Andy’s lap top. We ended up waiting a total of five hours since we touched down into Chicago waiting to leave for St. Louis. Since my flight was already being bounced around all over the place, I was again, placed in the available seat, which happened to be the emergency exit seat with extra leg room which also boarded on the plane first. By the time Andy came down the aisle, he was already shaking his head at my luck. I explained to him as he was walking by that he would be going home after the flight and I would be spending the night in St. Louis airport. Fair enough. We ended up not even really having time for anything on the flight since it was only a total of 48 minutes. I think I fell asleep but I can’t be sure. I put my sunglasses on in the airplane at 1 in the morning and some people thought that was funny. I just needed things to be darker for a while.
So now I’m in St. Louis Airport which is being renovated and rebuilt after a tornado blew through here a few months ago. It’s 4:24 am on my computer but with the central time zone, it’s actually only 3:24 am. I am currently plugged into an outlet (nice feature! Miami free outlets are scarce) typing out this blog and watching the morning security team coming down the escalator and beginning to set up the security line. In another half hour, maybe the ticket line will open and I’ll be able to get my ticket printed out and waiting another hour or two in the terminal for my three hour flight to Miami. If everything goes according to planned (which, so far, it has not) my entire travel experience will have consisted of 43 hours of traveling (with no more than an hour or two of sleep in a row, dispersed mainly over my 14 hour Shanghai to Chicago Flight.) I have brushed my teeth only recently, the body odor ain’t doing too swell, and I feel pretty crummy in general, but spirits are still high. Lambert International Airport has been the quiet, reflective experience I needed to bust out a blog entry, crank up a few tunes, and wash up.
My sleeping pattern is already screwed up to the max with jet lag and everything else, it was planned on me getting to Miami at midnight and falling asleep on the car ride back to begin the process of adjusting my sleep pattern. Right now, I’m scheduled to be in Miami at 12 in the afternoon with me likely falling asleep on the car ride back. We’ll see though. I am absolutely cruising right now with the time factor and all and don’t see myself slowing down any time soon.
RETRO REMIX! I’m currently on a plane heading back to China and thought this would be a good time to finish up this blog. So I ended up nearly missing my flight back to Miami when a group of Highschool sports teams jumped in line before the ticket counter opened and I was furiously writing my blog. When I got to the counter, the woman reviewed my itinerary, looked at my face, and did everything in her power to get me a ticket on the flight. The final burn of the journey was running to the very end of the concourse after a wait in line for security to make the gate with ten minutes to spare. The Miami flight was either A) Uneventful, B) non-memorable, C) or I passed out completely but I couldn’t really remember a thing from the journey and I was just magically in the car going home after a time. It was a completely exhausting journey that totaled 41 hours from start to glorious finish. I found enough in the tank to stay awake for another twelve hours to go to bed at a reasonable time at night and then passed out and rested for about two days straight. My time in America was very relaxing and a lot of fun but it’s time to get back and kick some butt. I have plans to keep things more up to date with the blog and now that I have my iphone working and not constantly crashing itself, I plan on taking a lot more pictures and letting those do the heavy lifting. I’m sure I’ll have a few word slams left in me but those will be saved for times and events that truly need to be explained in such a manner.
And for GODS SAKES, remember: The wild germ hates soup with crisp skin.
I then opened up the dvd for lunch, took a look at the small clips from each movie sample, saw one that might or might not have been 'the one with the poison man' and hit play.
It was the one with the poison man.
That's pretty good as far as kung fu movies go. It's like name that tune. You watch five seconds of a kung fu movie and try to name it. Well, it's not named 'The one with the poison man'. It' called:
New Legend of Shaolin
Video review for your pleasure. Keep in mind, it's all in chinese with chinese subtitles. I can follow along only bits and pieces and some of the conversations i remember from watching the movie before.
1:30 Jet li comes flying in on horseback to discover everyone in his village to be dead. (observe: Revenge plot within the first 90 seconds of the movie INCLUDING THE OPENING CREDITS)
1:45 Jet li inexplicably finds his son inside a brick wall. He doesn't seem at all surprised to find him alive and INSIDE A BRICK WALL. Imagine giving someone instructions in modern times, "If the entire village is getting slaughtered, could you take the time to hide my son in a brick wall? I may or may not ride by on a horse in time to save him... randomly. Oh and also, if this is going to be turned into a movie, we'll never show you saving my baby. Just me arriving and finding him. thanks". Jet li then immediately puts his son to the test, telling him to make a choice (his son is a baby that can barely walk at this point) between a toy horse or a sword. The child walks towards the horse/ cut to jet li pulling out a knife getting ready to kill the baby/ then the baby chooses the sword (naturally).
2:36 Jet li is seen throwing the last dead villager into a funeral pyre like Andre the Giant used to throw wrestlers out of the ring.
3:11 marks the introduction to the 'overreacting' acting that makes chinese kung fu so much fun. A guy (who will later turn into the poison man) comes in like his head is on fire crying about something (probably all the dead villagers). In a way, chinese kung fu has some shades of Silent Film acting in that they both kind of have over-acting and like to speed up the film action. If you were to add in a piano score to a kungfu movie, there wouldn't be too much difference to silent films. The reason being, all the chinese movies are re-dubbed for dialect and sound purposes. So the directors kind of understand, "hey, that take didn't turn out so good speaking wise but i loved the action. Is the speaking even going to matter? Okay. That's a wrap" is an acceptable mentality. Back to the scene at hand, the guy crying the blues turns out to be scheming to kill jet li (of course) and as soon as he makes his move, nine guys jump out from where jet li was just burning bodies (like he didn't notice some ninjas creeping around earlier?) and begin the assault. The target they are after appears to be the baby and a struggle to protect the baby begins, including jet li yanking the baby on a rope about thirty feet towards him, which, if spiderman is watching this film, he's throwing the remote at the T.V screen yelling, "That baby's vertebrae would be SO snapped in half!". Then he would put his head in his hands and lament his first love Gwen Stacey.
4:35 Close-up of Jet li with the baby on his back. The baby, clearly, screaming it's head off in misery.
fighting ensues with a baby on jet li's back. I'm sure the director considered having jet li spinning plates too but they probably didn't have any lieing around. Ultimately, Li stabs a line of guys with his spear as they comically fall over ala, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade during the tank scene. He then stabs the posion man IN THE CROTCH and leaves him for dead. We are left with the ominous hand clutching dirt scene that has been so overdone that it's underdone/overdone. I've started to get upset when movies DON'T do it. "What? No hand clutching dirt scene? No shredder arm coming out of the pile? boo. BOOOOOOOOOO!" Naturally, after getting stabbed in the crotch and being left for dead, the only available option to do is to posion our bodies and study poison kungfu (and find ourselves a shiny personal pod machine that rolls around like a motorcycle side-carriage.)
8:00 We get to the shaolin element of the film (after establishing revenge) where some forbidden map is being tattooed onto the backs of five shaolin boys. That makes sense right? To put something sacred and invaluable on some inexperienced backs, so that when one of them decides that being a monk is not what it's cracked up to be and leaves the group, fills to the brim with drink at a brothel and falls off a cliff, our map is incomplete forever and ever.
9:05 Jet li is walking into town with his now older son standing on his shoulder with one leg in a crane-like stance carrying an umbrella. Jet li pauses and tells his son to hide the spear so that they won't be noticed... but his son is standing on his shoulder with one leg carrying an umbrella. Even the extra's on the movie set are staring at this.
10:25 Introduces the love affair/comedy element with two bandit women, one posing as a grieving daughter, and the other pretending to be a deposed mother (using the ancient technique of 'pretend your dead for a long time' teachnique which is roughly what the English Dialogue would translate to. Additionally, the bandit woman pretending to be dead is a ventroliquist... quite handy while pretending to be dead). Their overall goal? TO find a rich man to take pity on the woman and take her as his wife. (naturally) (so that she can rob him)(naturally)
12:30 Jet li shares a meal with an aquaintance when the aquaintance inexplicably tries to kill him. Every other restaurant patron it seems was also waiting to kill him and manage to fabricate swords from rice bowls, underneath tables, and out of their blouses. Everyone of course dies to a horrible spear death, while Jet li teaches his son the values of killing people who try to kill you. Like, he's actually talking to his son, saying things (probably) like, be merciless, be ruthless, etc. And for the finale, he blasts some guy off the top floor of the restauarant to crash below on the crowded streets, then comes out to have a look at his handy work with the murder weapon in his hand.
And so the story goes. I miss the english subtitles. Especially in this movie. "Oh, chicken ass! I love chicken ass!"
Bottom line. Excellent comedy/kung fu movie that will not disappoint. Hilarious and good fighting. Try to find it!
The hardest part for me was you never knew exactly where your seat was when you went to go get more food. Your brain, through rigorous training of dining in restaurants that don't move, makes an inadvertent mental note on your local position in regards to some relative landmark, often times, a particular kind of food at a buffet or, if you should find yourself dining in an Applebees, an upside down tricycle next to a hacksaw and picture of fat Elvis Presley. You can't help it. Your brain does it for you subconsciously. So, when I attempted to go back to my seat, i found a wire bread basket, turned left, and was staring at a bunch of people i didn't know.
Try losing yourself in China and then doing a visual scan of the room for a short Chinese woman with black hair. GOOD LUCK. Anyways, once you get used to the rotating shenanigans, and juggling the concept of your seat moving but the bathroom remaining stationary, you get entertained by Phillipino singers. She was actually pretty good. Her song selection was w h a c k yyyyyyyyyyyyyy. She tossed out Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn' like it was 'happy birthday'. I mean, you have to reach deep down into the darkest part of your nineties collection to remember that one. At least mention before singing that ,"This next number is a relative dark horse from the late nineties back when boy bands ruled the musical wasteland shortly after grunge rock blasted it's own brains out with a 12 gauge shotgun". She sang Jordin Sparks 'Tattoo' TWICE which made me laugh because my little sister sings that song aloud to remind the family that talentless songwriting hacks are talentless. I tried to explain this to my F.A.O but she didn't understand the concept. I said, My sister sings this song a lot.
-oh, does she like it?
uhhh no. She sings it because it's awful.
-I don't understand your meaning.
She sings it because it's a horrible song and it's funny like that.
- (looking very concerned) I don't understand.
Every time the singer would go on break, the restaurant played three songs in endless revolution. One was a pro-Singapore song that was essentially 'It's a small world after all' with phrases like, We are Singapore and Hear the Lion's Roar. It was almost slow torture. The other two were equally bad but were not as memorable as lions roaring in Singapore.
The reason for such a fancy dinner was because we had just spent the day car shopping in China. My F.A.O has been without a car since I got here. She was in a pretty big car accident and her car was pretty much totaled. She was considering fixing it back when i first arrived, I mentioned that I could take a look to assess the damage and we went to the dealership that was holding the car. After pulling the tarp back, I got a reveal of a mangled rear end of a car. I got down on my hands and knees for a closer inspection and found a cat had curled itself up under the car one wintry night and just froze to death. I remember her asking, 'How does it look' referring to the damage and me responding, "It looks dead. Now lets have a look at the car." The rear axle was pretty messed up which is a pretty costly fix, especially since mechanics here aren't really equipped to do that kind of work. So that, and the fact that the rear end was the largest functioning metal accordion within a 10,000 mile radius, i advised her to start looking for a new car. And we did just that this past week and it was a rigorous event. The first frustrating fact about buying a car in China is that you have to wait six to twelve months after you have purchased it before you get it. Remember, 1.6 billion people. Demand over supply is the mother of all waiting. With some arm twisting or special reciprocal relationships, you can drive off with a car the same day but most average joes have to do the waiting game. So this is an added dimension in making a complex decision. I can have this car which is cheaper, better fuel economy, etc, but have to wait a year to drive the thing, or i can have this car, which has a better color, better interior, and i can have it in six months, or this car i can have the same day, with this this and this. It's a brain bending situation. I mentioned better color because that is honestly a big deal for my F.A.O. Normally, i don't really care too much about color but in this situation, i would have to agree with her. Chinese car factories produce five colors born from lame. Black, White, Silver, Red, and a Gold/brown. AMAZING CHOICES! We saw a few dealerships that had sky blue which is as ugly or more ugly as the sky blue car you are imagining in your mind right now. I'm not sure why color choices are so few here in china but it might have something to do with upsetting some dragon emperor or sky ninja if you have a yellow or green car. I'm not sure, but the more i think about it, the more legitimate that sounds. That or some lunar observations backed by Confucius forbids dark blue moving objects.
We're going to tangent town. I was tutoring a student this morning and I asked her to describe a holiday. Dragon Boat Race day. The reason for celebration is some famous guy felt really lonely after he left his kingdom (thousands of years ago, china was multiple kingdoms wanting secession from one another except for a few guys going, "If we break up the band now, we're never going to write our billboard number 1. Trust us, if we stick together for another few thousand years, we will be globally relevant and other political forces will only make fun of us behind our backs. 1. History, by the david, 2011) and threw himself into a river. I was waiting for the part where my student told me the greater significance of the story, or some heroic conquest of swimming against a thousand rip-current streams in the name of China. Nope. I asked, What happened to the guy?
-Oh! he died.
Wonderful. This is why we celebrate dragon boat race day. Because some pre-emo chinese man threw himself into a river and died. I mean, if we're going to celebrate this, we should have a national REVENGE day. In honor of that one time long ago, when that one chinese guy jumped out of a tree and chopped the arm of his rival off for betraying him, but later, the one armed mans son trained himself in martial arts for thirty years to avenge his father, and jumped out of a bush and chopped off the leg of the son of his fathers rival.
"Who the....? Johnny? Johnny from next door? Your father is the one armed man? What the hell man? That was like, THIRTY years ago. Are you happy now? *pointing at leg on the floor* Do you find my situation at all fulfilling? Did you even need all that training to surprise me by hiding in a bush WITH A SWORD??? I pull a rickshaw for a living and have a family of twelve. Did that ever occur to you? Prosthesis won't be around in FOREVER, man. Sometimes you have to think these things through, you know what i'm saying? *Looks at leg on floor* What the hell man..."
I'm liking this holiday way better than dragon boat race day for the historical account alone. If we are to adhere to the old Klingon Proverb, that revenge is a dish best served cold, It is only because it's yesterdays refrigerated leftovers. It was first cooked and served hot in a Chinese wok. And it was derishous.
uhhhh. we were talking about cars. Maybe there's not much that seems important to mention about car shopping. There's some chinese brand of car that has decided to use the food lion symbol as their company logo. Thought that was pretty funny. V W is really popular here in China. Ford is semi-prestigious because it's American and if you drive American, you must be rich because those fat fools love fried food and gas hog vehicles. That's actually a fairly accurate look into the mind of a Chinese person about American Auto. Ford is also the most well known American car brand name. Some people don't know Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, etc is American made. And to be fair, Chevrolet is the frenchiest frenchington french name in the universe and is semi-insulting to be considered 'America's car'. yeah right chevrolet, you're not fooling anyone.
I visited Hefei Industry and Tech college to observe Mouse Fart teach her class. I think I already talked about this so I will just remind you that the class was really quiet and really boring. Our staff and teaching staff will observe teachers from time to time and discuss teaching methodology and critique one another. This is something that I recommended when I first came here to China and we've adopted it as policy now. Which is great. But yeah, I watched mouse fart teach and wrote a scathing face melting critique on her performance that was a page and a half of hand written notes, on top of creating paper aeronautics in her class and setting my creations to the sky when she wasn't looking. I also passed some notes to my F.A.O during her class just because I was bored out of my mind. The notes were about the sign on the wall. I just spent ten minutes looking for it on the internet and couldn't find it. It looked like a no smoking sign but the picture was of a fire and what appeared to be a sword. Fire and sword? No Dungeons and Dragons? She didn't seem to mind me acting like a nuisance in class because she knows i'm good for my suggestions and advice in the meeting after. So, I really let Mouse Fart have it during the critique element of our review but offered some good suggestions on how to improve student performance, motivation, speaking, etc. Of course, it would be a cheap shot to do all this without giving her the chance to observe me and take a hack at me. So this week, the Industry and Tech school staff came to observe me, we did a really fun activity lesson with a lot of hand shaking practice, speaking, etc. When we had dinner later that night, I asked Mouse Fart to please critique me on my performance so i can become a better teacher. She just looked at me and said, "ohhhhhh, it was really good. i liked it".
Thank you for your diligence and advice. Thank you for the heart felt, 'i really liked it'. I'll remember to do that for my next class. She talks a little like those girls who hold out their words too long. IIIII knooow. Its greaaaaat, mmmmm kay? And a lot of people here say she is hard to understand. When asked, "Do most American girls talk like this?" I answered with, some do. I'm not sure why some girls talk like that, but it's maybe a 1 in 15 ratio??? I'm not really sure. Somebody back me up on this one.
By the by, I was still getting congratulations from people about my engagement on April Fools including my F.A.O, who, upon hearing it was all a ruse, just talked about it the ENTIRE day (same day Hefei industry and tech came to observe me at school and then had dinner). On the bus, it was all about, "everything was a lie". EVERYTHING IS LIESSSS! She couldn't get over how my conversation before april fools was all a fakery to make her believe my prank. She then went and recounted everything I said at the brazillian barbeque, which flabergasted me how much she remembered, and just could not get over how it was all a lie. Apparently, word had spread throughout the entire teaching staff at Cai Mao and everyone believed it. Incredible success. I never did post those pictures so i'll put them up here for you to enjoy the fakery. =)
I want to do a mailbag session for my next blog. Please send ANY questions you have about China to me on this website or to my e-mail and I will answer them all in the next blog. So come up with some questions so I can answer them. they can be crazy and stupid. i don't mind. Ask your friends to ask questions. Ask everyone. Call Elton John. Tell him I said it's okay for a few questions. he'll understand.