Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Smattering of High Brow Culture

Yesterday H and i went to catch the symphony, and it was pretty cool. It was a performance of works by Joe Hisaishi, who wrote all the music for Mizazaki Hayao's japanimation movies.

Hayao's works include Totoro, Princess Mononoki, and Spirited Away, and more; all wonderfully magical, cute, and intelligent. So the chance to see a symphony playing a live score to projected images was a score.

(Yes Molly, you were right. Spirited Away is amazing. Even if i refused to see it back in the day because i refused to see Disney-funded movies. (though i still boycott Disney, a far too powerful right-wing corporate media conglomeration)).

Anyhow, considering that i've developed a habit of snoozing at the orchestra, having some visual stimulation was just the thing for a very pleasant outing w/ my gf, even if we were originally deceived into thinking that the concert would be in the brand new National Centre of the Performing Arts. (below)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Increasingly Central Suburbs

I was feeling peeved that they recently bulldozed the crappy minimarket just outside the gate, which was my preferred spot to buy beer. And then the day i saw they smashed it, i also learned...
that a subway station will be built right at my doorstep!

That will be sweet, since trekking into dntn is a bit cumbersome. Well, it's not that bad, but it is slow. Actually, now that i think about it, i kinda like the bus ride. You can look at things. You don't need to breathe subway air for 60 minutes. Anyhow, it's questionable whether the line will be open in time for H and i to use it.

BUT ALSO, they're making a mega mall, just 10 minutes walk away. This gargantuan 8 story complex will be the biggest capitalist experience in the entire district and it will surely include classic stores like G-Star Raw and Miss Sixty. Ok, i'm sorta taking the piss, but life will be more convenient in the future.

And here's a note on mall culture. In Canada i hate malls. Mall culture is dead culture. But in China, it's different. Here i largely dislike malls. Mall culture is usually dead culture. But take the Xidan shopping mall. It's a fucking behemoth zoo of tiny booths selling cheap and not so cheap stuff: knock off Gravis shoes, Astroboy outfits, and made in china plastic hipster knickknacks.

Also, if you want to buy western quality goods or eat western/internatinal food, you will inevitably end up mall-bound. Sorry, it can't be helped.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Mascot Diaries. Part 2

Hello, I am Baybay. I have secret.
I am from Uighur province. Everyone in family was starve back in Uighur so father beg he old brother Xiao to let me stay with he at Beijing. When I come here, Xiao practice me hours every day to lose local accent and dialect. Noone must know I am a minority group. So I no talk.

Yes since I lucky find the new occupation as Olympic fish. I smile and wave. People like. I no talk. Smile and wave. After I eat I have a little yuan I can send to family. Family very happy.

After work, I still try no talk, because I still have accent. If boss man hears, he be very angry. He no like people from Uighur. If I lose job, Xiao send me back to Uighur. I send no yuan back to family.

Family have no food.

Father hit me.

Father starve.

Baybay also starve.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Mascot Diaries. Part 1

Here's a diversion from the doom and gloom of the news.

I'm Wanwan, the ringleader of this gang. Everyone else are just animals. But me, i'm the olympic FLAME. The IOC were drooling over me from the minute they first saw me. Charismatic, pursuasive, and driven. They knew i could play the cards to incisively implant myself into the unsuspecting hearts of ignorant children. I knew it would be a walk in the park. And the IOC knew it too.

But the deal clincher was my Olympic sized cock. I got the balls to lead the other mascots, and the juices to grease important palms. My money shots are now inspiring record breaking profits in dozens of currencies, and the hot Olympic love is only just beginning.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Have Seen The Future

Well, that's what it felt like.
Yesterday H and i went on a trip to the Hebei province w/ a student and her father. On the way there we passed by a gas station that had a line up of 1/2 a km of trucks waiting to fill up.

When we got to our destination, we looked for a gas station. We drove up to 4 gas stations, but they were all 'closed'. "No gas," said the father, "We might have to take a taxi back to Beijing." (150km).

The gas station shut downs happens with increasing frequency i gather. It's never reported in the media, surpise surprise. But you'd never know it in Beijing, where there is always gas at the gas stations. But outside of BJ, the supply can be less than reliable. One more reason people throng to the capital.

We asked for help from a few different people, and eventually got directed to a gas station, where 2 lines of vehicles were lined up for the 1 working pump.

China's gas is presently priced at $00.75/L (1/2 the cost of Canada), and is heavily subsidized by the govt. Which is ok for the millions of China's cars, but the price may double w/out warning, and many expect it to jump after the Olympics.

Fuel shortages cause problems, the heavy subsidies cause many problems, and soaring prices will cause problems. I thank the heavens above that i am less oil dependent than most, and patiently await the inevitable tumult.

Aside: If you haven't seen The End of Suburbia yet, do check it out. It's a pretty eery movie about the time where the demand for oil can no longer possibly be met. In BJ where in 2007 and 2008 more than ONE THOUSAND vehicles were registered to hit the roads EACH DAY, there could be a lot of folk w/ a lot of scrap metal on hand.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No Joy of Txt

Ok. First the school MADE me buy a cell phone. Grumble grumble.

Although really it's been a very very useful thing for a stranger to have in a strange land.

i ADMIT it, ok? i ADMIT it.

i also admit that i have eventually acquired the skill of txt msging. (gasp! you?) Yes, me. Me.

i like txting 'cause it is reasnble 2 use as mny shrtcts as psble. Evn grmr freeks wl take shrtcts cz it takes so bludy lng 2 type out msgs.

Also txting is free in China, so everyone txts. So it's kind of a necessary way to get along around here. When in Rome. But txting is a definitely a shitty way 2 communicate. In this case, it's good 'cause it's cheap, but that's about all it has going for it.

Much much much much worse than email. Or msn. Or ICQ, if anyone still uses that.

And it particularly sucks when you meet someone and then you txt each other, and that's how you get to know them. In shrt abbrviated sntncs w. smiley faces :)

a bad way 2 go imo. There's only bn 1 guy who i've done this w/ so far, and it's been fine, but it's such a time consuming lame way 2 cmnicate. :P

i got 2 go.

(he says "ha" a lot).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shaken and Stirred

The massive quake in southern China is having a huge impact on Chinese folk everywhere. It passed by unnoticed by me and most folk in the 'hood, but i did speak w/ one parent who felt his high rise swaying, and lanterns and stuff were swinging around too. Note: we are bloody far from the epicentre: 1500km.

Here's a very depressing breakdown of places hit, missing numbers and casualties from BBC.

My coworker showed me a picture today of a group of dead school children who'd been uncovered.

Too many students and teachers have been buried in schools which have been called "tofu" buildings, in that they [may have been] made soft and cheap.

The hometown of one of my student's is from the area, but his family is reportedly ok.

So today i threw an article at my students, and made them learn words like landslide. and earthquake. And sent them off to write a journal which i suspect a bunch of them won't have done.

Oh well.

This plus the cyclone in Burma all seems a bit much.