Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Holiday

Dang, i haven't been this Christmasy since 1997 when i was on E!

But since i'm w/ Yoyo and she's never done the xmas thing before, i stole a tree branch from the park and we decorated it. sorta like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Then i figured me and Yoyo and Derrick could go for Indian food for xmas eve, but then thought maybe other people also have no plan. So in the end 15 of us ate out before hiking back to our place for 5 bottles of mulled wine.

A bit of soldering action got the xmas lights going again. Then we listened to Chet Baker xmas songs before singing some w/ the guitar.

Anyhow, that was all pretty fun, and a great Christmas eve. Especially considering that me and Yoyo had a big argument the night before when it was revealed that we're both underhanded liars.

Peace on Earth, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

No, I didn't see the movie. 

But like many people, I'm open to the possibility that December 21st, the end date of the Mayan Calendar may be (approximately) be an indication of some sort of spiritual shift in the collective consciousness. 

Considering that i actually have a deep dark beliefs about humanity catastrophically fucking the environment up the ass (not that there's anything wrong w/ making anal love for those who enjoy it), i wonder if we may be crossing that threshold of this "new era". 

I also wonder if we may shortly witness the end of capitalism (as we know it) and (imo) insanely narrowminded growth models
i don't expect these things to happen on Friday. i don't really expect anything to happen. Though apparently 20% of Chinese people are worried, buying candles and stuff. Luckily i already have some at home. 

This Friday, my plan is to finish work, then go to Beihai Park downtown w/ Yoyo and Derrick, and walk around to the top of the hill and have a view of the city as anarchy breaks out. 

At the very least, i think this Friday is a particularly good time to embrace the symbolism of the end of an era, the beginning of an era. i plan to stay squeaky clean sober, be (sort of) in nature and w/ loved ones. Maybe create something, but i haven't thought things through that far yet. 

Interestingly enough, Terrence Mckenna and hisTimewave Zero hypothesis is set to happen this Friday also.  (It was originally calculated for Nov, but he readjusted it to align w/ the Mayan calendar). Anyhow, he believes the universe is a "novelty machine", creating new, never before seen/had experiences, and that this Friday, we'll reach "a singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously." Unsurprisingly, he was on mushrooms when he came up w/ the idea. 

i think i may have had a similar experience (on mushrooms, incidentally), and it's truly truly truly like nothing you've ever imagined before. i was completely befuddled by an experience for which words seemed completely inapplicable. Later on i found that Zen Buddhists summed it up impressively with just 3 words: "All is One". 

So there i was walking the streets of Seattle, flabbergasted to experience this thing which was bigger than time itself, this thing which OBVIOUSLY predated the Big Bang and the universe itself. And yes, i still take it as concrete evidence that my experience was real, because of course my tiny little simple mind could never imagine something so unimaginable or REAL. But the incredible thing was that... everything was also totally NORMAL. i'd just noticed something that had always been there. Like noticing a little birthmark on your ankle. Oh hello, you've always been a part of me, but i wasn't paying you any attention.  

So. Just in case there is a shift, and you do notice a birthmark on your ankle, i hope that you can just smile and relax. Some people may see that birthmark and freak out, call the doctor, try to cover it up, try to hack it off.  But i think it would be better to get to know that birthmark, 'cause it's not about to go anywhere. 

But like i said: i don't really expect any birthmarks this Friday. 

For way more information about this than you want to know check out Wikipedia here

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bad News. Again.

Running in the snow w/ my running group this morning. An American woman joined us late, visibly distressed, and she informed us about the Newtown shooting. There was some awkward dialogue about other shootings and schoolhouse killings, and one oddly timed joke about gun laws, but then we kept running and talked about other things. 

Now at home, i read a bit more and the gravity hits a bit more. Yes, there's tragedy across the globe everyday of every magnitude, but somehow this particular narrative hits a bit harder. The Connecticut governor said the #1 way to help right now is to pray, so i did. In fact, i believe him. I believe that there's a global connectedness concerning this tragedy, and i felt tapped into that for a few minutes. 

Soon, i'll head out to a Christmas fair, and go about my preplanned weekend entertainments. And maybe you will too. 

Thanks for reading and participating in all the stuff that humans do, menial and otherwise. 

Condolences to all affected. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 3: AGAIN???

No, i'm not blogging for Dec. Give a guy a break. But thanks to all of those who read along w/ me for Nov. You rock. Hopefully most of it was alright, though i thought day 29 was lackluster.

December, however...

Well Yoyo herself decided to actually commit to drawing daily this month after her failed Nov attempt.

And me, my plan is to do push ups everyday.

Again, totally doable. Def faster than blogging, though sometimes it takes a mental push to get there. Esp considering i'm not in shape. i barely pulled off 20 on Day 1.

I'm quite curious to see if there'll be a noticeable difference in my chest musculature by 2013.

Aren't you? 

Xi'an and the Fam

Overnight train to Xi'an.
One night in posh hotel (by myself, paid for by Yoyo's aunt).
Overnight train bk to Beijing.

Met Yoyo's mom, two aunts, two aunts' husbands, one cousin, one cousin's husband, one cousin and cousin's husband's kid, plus another aunt's son. That aunt wasn't there, but she did send me a ridiculously massive care package for some unexpected reason.

They were all extremely friendly, and were quite forgiving about my inadequate Chinese. One aunt gives me a serious lecture about how a woman shouldn't have kids after the age of 30, but i would do more research to confirm.

Hung out a bit w/ just Yoyo and her mom shooting the breeze and that was pretty chill. Apparently the gang all think i'm a decent enough chap. Yoyo's mom said i'm "interesting" which is fine by me.

Spring Festival, i'll go to Yoyo's hometown to hang out w/ both her parents. Apparently her dad already bought a bed for me to sleep on. Derrick's invited too, though he might not make it out.

Daytimes in Xi'an me and Yoyo went out just the 2 of us to do slightly touristy stuff like visiting the Famen Temple (pictured), the museum, or wandering around ancient streets buying snacks. (Yum, why the hell don't they make that shit in Beijing?)

Well, that's about it. Yoyo hangs out in Xi'an a bit longer, i go bk to work.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hello, I'm the Guy Who Your Daughter's Sleeping With

Yoyo's mom is visiting her sister in Xian (where the terracotta army is). She invited me and Yoyo out for a visit, so i was like, sure why not? Might as well. Isn't sooner better than later?

Yoyo's nervous. i feel pretty normal. i think her mom's excited. Yoyo's parents thought she'd never get married. Yoyo herself figured that if she was still single by the time she reached 30, she'd just marry any ol' random dude. Luckily she met a different random dude first.

So tonight we hop on an overnight train to Xian, where i'll meet her mom, her mom's sister, her mom's sister's husband, her cousin, her cousin's husband, and her cousin and cousin's husband's baby (whom i've seen a photo of).

This is a big deal in China, since it basically implies that yr gonna marry said daughter. Which i'm ok w/. It's all kinda impromptu, so there's bn no time to think about a gift for Y's mom, nor is one required, she thinks.

But i'm annoyed that we thought we could get something for teh baby, but Yoyo thinks we should spend 500yuan on something, since apparently the mother only dresses the 6 month old kid up in western brand names. Which i think is pretty lame.

Throwing down for New Zealand baby formula, i can understand, but imported Gap Kids stuff that'll be outgrown in 6 months? Well, maybe for the Christmas party...

Day 29: Zhuangguancun - 2 Much Comp Shit

Today i went to Zhuangguancun, a neighbourhood filled w/ massive buildings all filled w/ people selling computers, phones, cameras and all the bits and pieces thereof. It's almost entertaining being asked every 1 meter if you want to buy an iPhone.

"Hey handsome guy! [that's me] Looking for a cellphone?"
"No, i have one already."
"Want to get another one?"
"Why would i want that?"
"Cause it's cheap."

Later, i got bored and started asking people, "Can you find love here?"
"Everyday thousands of people come here. Can people find a husband or wife here? Not me. i have a girlfriend. i'm just curious."
"Probably. I'm not sure."

Also, i got a new hard drive to put into my screwy Mac and a Bluetooth mouse. Yay!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28: Movie Roundup.

Here's a bunch of movies i've seen in the past few months, and some deep analysis to accompany each one. 

Prometheus. The Aliens prequel. 3/10. Costumes and set design are awesome. Dialogue and script suck. 

Date Night. 2.7/10. Steve Carrell romantic flick, which was a lot worse than i'd expected. i actually wanted to turn it off 5 min in. i'm just not into that brand of humor. 

Kingdom of Plants 3D. 8/10. Saw this in amazing 2D! Not much else i'd rather do than smoke up and watch this sort of thing w/ my gf. 

To Live. 8.2/10. Since i'd just finished the book, some friends did movie night w/ this one. Pretty darn good rendering of the book. Interesting to see how they pumped up the drama for the screen by adding elements. But (y'aint never heard this one before) … the book was better. 

Cinema Paradiso. 4/10.  Well, i watched 1/2 of it, but then i fell asleep. When i get around to finishing it, i'll let you know if the second half is much better than the first. It's apparently a classic (!) But i was tired, so sue me. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 27: Fyogur Piano

Today i had some free time to kill w/ Yoyo, so we watched some Sigur Ros vids online. Music to sigh to. And the above vid is the best thing i've seen since Double Rainbow. Not to equate the two. Derrick likes it but thinks it borders on pretentious. i disagree, though the WTF factor is likely pretty high for non-artsy types.

Also, note the lead male. It's f'ing Shia LaBeouf from Transformers! Can't blame the guy for not wanting to be pigeonholed as The Transformers guy, and wanting to do some more like... acting. He looks pretty damn good in this piece. Good one, Shia. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 26: Reasons to Hate the Communist Party

Oh, China. Sometimes you really fuck things up. Big things and small things. Ok, everyone (in the west) knows you oppress Ti bettin' peoples, minority groups, fallin' gong yadda yadda.

Yeah, you got a pickled carrot up yr ass when you throw bloggers in jail for crackin' jokes.

And yr corruption that allows thugs to do the govt's dirty work, and causes homeowners to self-immolate in a fight over property rights sickengingly churns the stomach.

But truthfully, the way that you piss me off the most is by hacking Google. Perhaps my hatred for Bing is exagerated. Google works fine: sometimes. And sometimes, it doesn't. Websites it links to refuse to open, as you (patiently?) watch the swirling Page Loading indicator.  Google Images is particularly prone to stalls.

Fuck it, if i have to i can use Bing, even though i'm well versed in anti-Microsoft rhetoric.

More frustratingly, Gmail simply can't be opened (occasionally). This is enough to make you punch walls, depending on what simple task you're trying to accomplish. Other times, it opens, but excruciatingly slowly.

Yoyo says (almost reasonably), "That's why you shouldn't use Gmail in China." Sorry Yoyo, but simple logic like that can't be easily applied on a guy who sadly enjoys getting all riled up about social and digital injustice.

img courtesy of http://news.yahoo.com/anti-japan-protests-china-swell-turn-violent-044101740.html

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 25: Marathon Not

A dream ago, i'd planned to run 3 marathons this year. i registered for this last one but ended up doing zero preparation for it. i figured, ok, i can still do a 1/2, even though my fever 2 days ago had me struggling to stay on my feet after an hour.

But the final blow came this morning when the BJ Air Quality Index came in reading 340: Hazardous.

My limit for exercising outside is 250 (over 200 is already "Very Unhealthy". A  couple weeks ago, the AQI was 240, and i really wanted to do the one hr bike ride to work, so i figured i risk it. Plus i have a mask. But 40 min in, i realized i need to recalibrate my limit. My lungs were feeling tight, my breath was raspy and my throat felt like i'd been drinking something too acidic. i slowed down. i felt like my effort to be healthy was in fact poisoning me.

Today, the five people in my running group who were registered to run all decided to forgo the event.

But i had already eaten a carb-heavy breakfast, and Yoyo and i had downed our coffees. So we went down anyways just to have a peek. Also i had some coworkers who were there.

We got there 5 min before staring time. At my insistence, my coworker had left my race package outside subway exit B for me, but it had shockingly disappeared by the time i got there.

Then me and Yoyo went to see the race, and we ended up joining the whole 4km event, along w/ a thousand or so peeps, many in funny costumes. Somebody from Greenpeace saw our masks and interviewed us about air quality. Anyhow, being super disorganized worked out amazingly well, as it allowed me and Yoyo to stick together. Lucky, 'cause if we just wasted time looking for my race package and missing the race, it woulda been a bummer.

Yoyo tries on a shoe.

Day 24: Art and About

Last night Derrick had a video installation exhibited in an exhibition. Interesting event: 22 artists had work spread out through a few hutongs (old Beijing alleyways), and a decent crowd arrived to view them. What resulted was a great deal of questioning about What Is Art, as a number of works were often overlooked, blending right into the scenery (like the series of hardened white clothes hanging from a clothes line), and also a number of found objects were all recognized for their arty properties. 

Derrick's piece was a vid about our great aunt, talking about stuff like death and the afterlife. It was shown a mini screen, somewhat bigger than a smartphone, tucked into a dark doorway's mailbox. 

Fun night and crowd, despite the chilly subzero temperature. though it was weird to see a number of people being rather disrespectful towards the art. i guess that's the risk you take when you take art out of a snooty gallery and put it into the public domain. Even Derrick's piece was transformed into mediocrity by an interactive viewer. Somebody turned off his video loop and turned on the standard issue mp3 track. Coincidentally, the track was also Canadian: Celine Dion!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 23: The Beijing Zoo Market

Today (despite being kinda sick) i went out to the Zoo Market to do some research and interview some folks about this massive 8 story market that has some of the cheapest clothes in Beijing, but also is considered pretty fashionable.

The work was a bit hard since the goods are pretty much all of questionable origin, so most people were shying away from interviews and pix, and def wouldn't give me a name.

But anyhow, I rather dig the place. Lots of young people, girls who apply mascara and eyeliner for people who forgot their glasses, and tons of clothing that's not exactly what you or i call "fashionable."  Lots of loud colours, buttons, frills, and bad English. Pretentious it's not.

Xidan Market used to be more like this place, but Xidan caught up with contemporary fashion annoyingly fast. It was a lot more interesting before Uniqlo and H&M influenced everything over there.   Places like the Zoo Market are from a slightly different frame of reality, which is great. To me it's quintessential China.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22: The Popular Kids

The CRI English department had a vote for best team players in its 3 offices. i thought i stood good chances 'cause i'm 95% friendly to 95% of the people, and because i work a decent amount with both Chinese and Int'l teams, i was strategically positioned.

But no. Didn't even make the top 10. What a blow to the ol' ego. i was particularly surprised to find that i gave a shit at all. 

Anyhow, pretty weird thing. One of my colleagues said, "i voted for you!" and i was at a bit of a loss, 'cause i hadn't voted for her. 'Cause there were criteria to be followed. 

And also, i voted for a bunch of people who i thought noone else would vote for (sympathy votes, my colleague termed it), one of whom was the clear winner. Hello?

Anyhow, just goes to show you what a sham electoral politics are. Fuck democracy. 

Also, if you want to see a totally hilarious (and possibly disturbing) view on democracy in a Chinese primary classroom, watch Please Vote for Me. All documentaries should be this entertaining. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 21: Hunchback of Notre Dame

Got some free tix from work to see a musical performance of Notre Dame at a theatre just near the house. So me and Yoyo went. Arrived late, unfortunately, and stepped on some toes getting to our seats. Modern interpretation. Flashy stage. Lots of people and things swinging from the rafters. Some impressive breakdance moves. But not a chance in hell of deciphering the lyrics, so much of the story was kinda lost on me. Chinese people got subtitles and were likely better off knowing who was who than English speakers. 

 I thought it was alright. But Chinese people loved it. i couldn't believe the thunderous standing ovation it got. i was thinking more like 6.5 out of 10, but apparently not. I asked Yoyo what marked she'd give it, and she said 10/10. Really??? Really. Well she'd never seen such a full stage production before, and appreciated the international tunes. Really? Really. 

'Cause frankly i got more of a kick out of that show in Anhui that Chinese people couldn't get away from fast enough. Go figure. 

day 21: I Ching Over Matter

Went for lunch w/ an office intern today. He started talking about astrology signs. "I don't believe in it, but women like to talk about it," he said. 

i mentioned of course that i do believe in it. And other stuff. i mentioned the I-Ching, too. He reasonably answered that these things say stuff that anyone can believe in, yadda yadda. 

Back in the office he was curious enough to try out the website i mentioned. He asked a question, and got   . Which amazed him. Since he'd just been debating whether or not to forget pursuing English studies to get into uni abroad. 

It's been a pretty long time since i've asked the I-Ching a question, which is the way i prefer it, but it is reassuring to know that there's this window to a wiser perspective just there, for some strange reason. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 19: How to Cover Up the Mac Logo on Your Computer

When i was in Canada the last time me and my bro got an ipad for our mom. i knew she wasn't techie when i had to show here that a computer keyboard button has a Delete/Backspace button on it. (what will they think of next!) It was a big jump to having her very own piece of modern technology. She was reluctant to make the jump, but you know how these things embed themselves into your life.

Before you knew it she got kind of addicted to online games (Scrabble and Scramble). Now she warns the neigbours about how addictive it can be. Other than that, she just uses it for Skype and email. i think.

The first time we did vid Skype, both my parents were entertainingly impressed. "That thing's worth every penny!" exclaimed my dad after finishing the call.

Sorry for all this Mac propaganda. I covered up my Mac logo a long time ago. And my comp has probs and needs to be taken into the shop. Oh well, that's the gamble you take when you buy 2nd hand.

But my Linux computer's kinda fucked too right now. Oh technology, you always keep us on our toes (LOL ^^)

Special Feature!
*Covering Up Your Mac Logo

1. glue a circle of foil to the apple. If you don't, light will shine through and it'll look like shit. If you're really minimalist, stop here: presto you're  done! Your friends will love it.

2. If yr not minimalist enough to stop after step one, you can put banana stickers or whatever you want over the Mac logo. People with half a brain will still know that you have a Mac, but at least you didn't hold a magnifying glass up to the fact!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 18: Don't Follow SATAN

i wanted Yoyo and my super cool great aunt to meet each other, and today was the first opportunity. It kinda fell together last minute, so i was happy that me and Yoyo could swing by. 

But, stupid me, i forgot to warn Yoyo about certain topics. We dodged one bullet when Popo asked Yoyo where she lives (with me, for hte moment), but then sidetracked herself onto another question directly afterwards. 

But i also forgot to tell Yoyo that Popo's a hardcore Christian, and that she shouldn't mention anything about me having converted to Buddhism. 

It got mentioned. 

Then i/we had to deal w/ about an hour of Christian talk. I totally respect Jesus and lots of Christian ideas, but i'm not so down with hearing about how Buddhism is lies from Satan, that the BIBLE SAYS that there's only ONE God, etc etc. 

i did have to defend myself to some degree, and discuss that different people believe different things, and different people even interpret the bible in different ways, etc. I kinda imagined both Buddha and Jesus sitting with us in the room there, watching how i'd handle myself. I felt obliged to share some of my opinions but definitely didn't argue that hard 'cause Popo's 93 years old and the less i can upset her the better. She's the first to talk about the difficulties of aging, and just in the last month she's started saying stuff like, "We should meet because you never know what might happen."

Anyhow, it was a bit stressy for an hour or so, and i really hope that Popo doesn't sit around upset about how i've already begun seriously flirting with potentially sending myself to an eternity of pain and suffering in the everlasting fire. She knows i'm good, and even admitted that people of different beliefs can lead positive, loving, helpful lives. But then SATAN will take them in the end. Which hardly seems fair. Especially considering that lots of people just CAN'T even know about Christianity. Which is (obviously) WHY Christians have to SAVE you by converting you!!! Let's not get all mathematical about this. 

img from  http://bobbymcleod.redbubble.com/sets/55186/works/508630-asian-devil

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17: Technology, Relationships, and the Family

One time i was visiting my parents, having a conversation about politics w/ my dad in the family room. My mom suddenly sighed heavily and said, "Can you two stop talking? I'm trying to watch Jeopardy!" So much for communicating with dad. 

i was reminded of that event today, after i was looking at the Scrabble game that i'm playing w/ my mom. (She's severely kicking my ass.) Anyhow, Yoyo turned to me and asked, "Why can't yr mom play w/ other people?"
"She does."
"So why do you have to play with her too?"
"Cause she's my mom. Obviously she wants to play Scrabble with her son!" 

Thoughts on tech usage: i refrained from getting a cell phone as long as i could, but my school forced me to buy one in 2007. After i got it, it dug its heels into my pocket and life. 

i don't have a smartphone, but know that after i get one... there'll be no going back. So i relish these last days of living without a freaking computer in my pocket. But, you ask, isn't an itouch the same as a computer? Well, it's that shifty purgatory between smartphone or not. It's not connected to the internet, usually. Here's my usage:

1) Learning Chinese apps and dictionary: slick flash cards have helped me a TON.
2) Listening to Chinese lessons when running/riding to work. 
3) Scrabble with mom and Scramble with only ONE friend. But these are often daily activities now. 
4) i use the sound recorder to interview people sometimes. Pretty darn handy. 

i spend enough time on the computer and surfing the interwebs that i oughtn't waste more time doing so away from my desk!


Yo, check out Buddha to the Future! This f'ed up Buddhist "cultural park" (NOT a religious place, since the CN govt doesn't provide funding to religious places) is basically busting at the seams with opulence and futuristic Buddhist re-envisionment. For a price.

Also, here's the 99 meter tall landmark of the joint. Other pix from yesterday are from the same place.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16: Anhui Trip

Well, i get paid to take pix, and use the company camera. And make less-professional-than-i'd-prefer radio segments. And today i talked about signing on for another year with CRI. 'Cause it's fun. And i'm still learning stuff. So you can't complain. Here's some stuff from the last trip!

Oh traditional China!!!

Trippy-ass Buddhist park in Jiuhuashan.

What dharma can't buy, money can.

Anhuiren performer

Hotboxin' the joint.
I totally want to go to the first place.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 16: Arguments!

Yoyo's just entered the between jobs phase. So she has time to do things like... make dinner for me. Yum. After dinner for some reason we talked about arguments, and i mentioned that the closest we've come to having one was about this jacket i bought that i really like that she really hates. Anyhow, that conversation was months ago, but i noticed a knot in my stomach i got from mentioning it. i let her know that i had this weird bit of knot in my stomach just from thinking about that conversation. Then she hadn't realized i was even bothered by that conversation, and then that buggered her into a bad mood. So we talked about arguments (which we haven't had yet, but someday will) and how to potentially deal w/ them.

Then i went to for a run in the rain. Yoyo opted out, when we realized it was raining. 

Yoyo's great. 

And running's fun too.

Day 14: Fuktup

Oops, i totally forgot to blog yesterday. My bad. 

Also, i totally forgot to bring floss to Anhui. So no flossing for 4 days. Sorry, gums. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buddha to the Future

The very last stop on this trip to Anhui was a place called Dayuan Garden. Which i'd assumed would be a waste of time.
It turned out to be the most surreal destination on the itinerary. Featuring a 99 meter tall golden Buddha as its highlight, the place was a science-fiction interpretation of Buddhism, justified to the tune of 2.2 billion yuan. Special shoe covers had to be donned before entering the opulent indoor halls, which were probably as close to Mr Trump's mansion as i'll ever get. One polished white buddha sat surrounded by glowing LED lotus flowers, with a circular LCD display hovering just over his head. The place and magnitude were just oozing money, which both fascinated and disgusted me, though by the time i acutally got to the foot of Mr 99 metres, i'll admit that there was a feeling there that i didn't really expect to have.
i was the only guy who made the full trek out to the foot of the giant Buddha, and it was already a weird transition to being solo, after elbowing for room at the best photo spots. It had just turned to pitch black night, the way lit only by glowing lights along the sides of the winding staircase. The Buddha looks not unlike the giant blue Zen character from Immortal Combat, wearing a robe which revealed his muscular chest. He was epic in more ways than one, but i had to admit that despite him being brand-spanking new... it was pretty powerful to be in his presence. Not sure if that's the power that money can buy or not, but that's what i felt.
Then i had to rush down the mountain, 'cause i got  a phone call. All the other buses had left and mine was wondering where the hell i was. That's the price to pay to get in touch with your inner Bodhisattva, i guess.

I'll def post some pix soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: Huangshan

Well, after a crappy sleep in a super swank hotel, we went out to this small town called Chengkan. Nope, i never heard of it before either. But it was pretty stellar. Really really beautiful spot, incredibly well-preserved with lots of intricate artsy detailing. Patterns which hinted at the psychedelic. Wish we could've hung out there longer. But we had other beautiful places to visit in Huangshan, so we did that.
Finally we finished up with a show which sounded like it was going to be a historical cultural performance, but it was more like 1/4 Peking Acrobats, 1/4 Cirque de Soleil, 1/4 Universal Studios and 1/4 actual Anhui culture. Actually less than 1/4 for the last part, even though that screws up my stats. The most unbelievable part was at the very end when all the performers were coming out to take their bows and  the music was soaring to an epic climax, and the Chinese crowd all jumped to their feet and... left the building. There was a good 5 minutes of performance left and by the time the performance was actually over, probably 95% of the crowd was in process of exiting the theatre. Sorry performers, i sure hope you don't take it personally after risking life and limb and sweating yr ass off for us all. i made my coworkers sitting next to me stay at least, even though they were clearly annoyed that we were like the last people leaving.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 10: cop out

I'm late, and running to the airport momentarily. Talk to you from Anhui Prov!

Day 9: National Congress MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well i really should say something  to welcome Xi Jinping, China's new Party Secretary and President. 

Well, the climate around Beijing is totally not hype. Everyone's like whatEVerrr. 

It ain't no democrat party. 

"Yoyo, what do you think about Xijinping?"
"I don't think anything."
"Does anybody in your office care?"
"No. Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping… they're all communists."

Ok fine, that's a magazine office, even if it's one that does focus on politics. 

But i work at a govt national news agency. Even the people who are covering it are uninterested, describing it as a lot of writing about nothing. Yes it's happening, yes it's important, no it's not interesting, and no there's nothing regular Chinese folk can do about it. 

It's bigger impact on the lives of Beijingers is that taxi drivers have been refusing to go near Changan Avenue to avoid security hold ups around Tiannanmen Square.

But of course, it is still a change. Xi Jinping seems more personable and confident than Mr Blendintothewallpaper, Hu Jintao. He's kept a clean slate (purportedly) in terms of staying out of corruption, and pressing the party to fight it. He's reasonably young to become the head of state, and presumably brings modern ideas w/ him. Even his wife was a starlet herself, belting out the commie hits, before hubby started squeezing into the upper echelons of the Party. 

Even Hu Jintao talked about the need for China to reform, more transparency, etc. No, China's not about to tumble into democracy, nor should it. But it can clean up it's act and work towards a more prosperous and harmonious phuture. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 8: Bloody Hell

So the rumours have gathered weight: My Bloody Valentine is coming out with a new album, more than 20 years after their momentous album Loveless was released. They helped define what shoegaze was back in the day, paring violent assaults on audience ear drums with total indifference (years before "hipster" had even entered the popular lexicon.)

Ok, you can skip the first minute of the vid, which really is just all-out noise, but fuck, look at the way these alt-rock kids are totally stunned into silence by MBV's aural attack. Totally hilarious. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7: Dems de Breaks, Mitt!

Well Mayor Bloomberg was less than glowing in his support for Obama. Yes, he may have let bankers get away w/ robbery, failed to shut down Guantanamo, let life worsen for black America, gave Hope a rest, yadda yadda…

And maybe he also refrained from even mentioning the environment during the debates… 

But at least he's not a climate change denier!!!  

Woohoo! For the sake of all living beings in all countries and bodies of water, thank goodness Romney didn't take office today. 

Those who know me should know that the environment should be the top issue of any candidate, and frankly it's sad when nobody wants to even address it (publicly). Well, let's just hope that MR PRESIDENT will continue to admit that environmental problems exist, and that understand what an inconvenience they pose to all living things and corporations. 

Well, i haven't been losing any sleep over it, but i am definitely relieved that Obama took it. i think he's a pretty decent man, intelligent and w/ his heart in the right place. i suspect he's as disappointed as anyone else is about his first term, but things are surely complicated when yr trying to run a world power w/ a team of financial advisors from Wall Street. 

This song isn't totally current, but i still love it:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6: To Live

Yoyo recommended i read a book by Yu Hua. i looked for it in Canada, but could only find his new nonfiction release, China in Ten Words. Which was pretty awesome. Super readable, and it did indeed inform my understanding of the country i live in, tying pretty much everything happening today to the cultural revolution in some way. 

But that also inspired me to pick up his book To Live. Plus i wanted to read it before seeing the movie, which is also apparently great, directed by Zhang Yimou. The book was great: the kind of book that makes storytelling seem unnaturally easy. I was warned it would be a tear-jerker, and yes i was crying on the subway yesterday as i paged towards the end. But in a good way. 

Ok, i admit i couldn't get onside w/ the protagonist, Fugui, for the beginning, considering that he was a real ass at the start, but we came around, didn't we? 

Yu is skilled at telling stories without blasting you with opinion. Yes, there was horrible shit happening during the great leap forward, during the cultural revolution,  but he doesn't harp on anyone about it: just continues on about the family living through it. 

Anyhow, it's good. i haven't seen the flick yet, but you might check it out if you don't have time for the book. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5: White Lies

Work trip to Anhui province leaving next weekend. Today my editor informed me that there won't be a translator. Will i be able to understand? There will likely be a lot of formal language floating around. So will i be able to understand it? Will i be able to write the required articles and radio reports? "Of course I can do it," i said, unhesitatingly.

But in fact, getting enough info to write decent articles will be very difficult. Radio reporting could be more so.

But because i jump at any chance to break out of BJ, as i SHOULD considering that i write for the TRAVEL section, i'm still 100% game to give it a go.

Because there's only one way to know if i can actually pull this sort of thing off.

Note: yes my Mandarin improves daily, but when people speak at full speed and without dumbing it down for an CSL speaker, my comprehension can be pretty shit.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4: Dental Floss and State of Mind

In my life, I've noticed a pretty direct correlation between the times I floss and the times when I'm generally content. And didn't i hear once that some people on Oprah started flossing (and other stuff) and became more youthful and positive? 

i can't promise that flossing will make you happier. But i bet that it would. i bet that committing to pretty much anything and following through would give some sense of accomplishment. Like blogging for 30 days. (btw, i've encouraged Yoyo to write/draw in her notebook everyday this month, but she's got some catching up to do.)

i first started flossing after traveling in India. i decided i needed more commitment in my life. Then you realize, hell, it takes less than a minute!  Before you know it, habit is established, and commitment is no longer required. Incredible!

i note that there's already been two chunks of time in my life when i flossed. And then i fell out  for laziness, busyness, and self-loathing. A few weeks ago i started again. There's definitely some feeling about taking better care of myself.

A while ago, a friend said on a scale of 1-100 he was like 85: very happy. Which got me to thinking. For the moment: work, very good; new apartment: good; friends and lifestyle: good; health and activities: good; girlfriend relationship: very very good. i feel happy.

Thank goodness i started flossing. 

Here's more multimedia rhetoric for y'all:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 3 - The Relationship Deal

So i've been dating Yoyo now for over 4 months. And it's been pretty great. She's a talented artist/designer, super sweet, cute, and generally up to doing new stuff w/ me. "Hey do you want to go make public art?" "Sure." "Hey do you want to take swing dance lessons?" "Yes."

 But i feel it's a bit weird that a major reason things have been so great is that most everything's been so smooth and easy between us so far. (does that make us lazy?) A few wrinkles along the way, but nothing to mention here. 

But considering that my mandarin is still less than 100% adequate, our communication's pretty good. Dating at this point in time is generally gearing one up for marriage, and i'm ok w/ that. Feel good about it even, weirdly enough. 

But some of you know that for my whole life i've been pretty set against having a kid/kids of my own, mostly for environmental reasons and not wanting to have a son/daughter deal w/ impending global ecological & economic catastrophe. Unsurprisingly, Yoyo has for her whole life been pretty set to have a kid of her own. 

It's like a 17 year old boy feels the urge to stick his dick into a gorgeous woman: totally natural. And what right could I have to lock that gorgeous woman's cherry in a safety deposit box?*

A while ago, while me and Yoyo were on a hilarious holiday vacation in Zhangjiajie, i had a dream. Yoyo wasn't in it, but our baby boy was. He looked rather like a monkey. I looked at him and thought, "You are your own person w/ yr own destiny. Who was I to deny you your existence?"

And more recently Yoyo moved in to me and Derrick's apartment. A wee bit tight, but fine. It's temporary, though i'm open to her staying (housing probs at her last place). She works late hours so frankly we still don't get to see each other that much. 

Also, she quit her job at the magazine and i really hope she can find time to go traveling solo to Yunnan. I think that'd be a great experience for her, as she's never gone traveling solo before. Apparently this is a very untraditional stance for bf in China. Whenever she's done in a week or so, she'll be job-hunting/holidaying, and that might shake things up a bit. In a good way, probably.

*I know that locking up a gorgeous woman's cherry in a box may sound sexist, but it didn't sound quite right to lock up the boy's cherry. 

Day 2: Living Chinese!

Today i only had to work a 1/2 day 'cause the other 1/2 was busy shooting this video for a Chinese learning book/dvd. Basically, CRI foreign staff w/ any mandarin capabilities were obligated to write a few lessons complete w/ Chinese & Eng lines, stage directions, and descriptions for the accompanying animations that intro the segments. 

So i wrote up some 1/2 way funny stuff. The editor was worried about how much Mandarin we were speaking, and it was in fact an unnecessarily stupid amount. (You think it's hard to memorize lines in English?)

Today a crew of ten people crammed into my apartment w/ several massive light set ups, tripods, sound gear, etc. They even hired a cleaning woman from the office to waste her whole day in order to recite 2 sentences and hang out in the background. 

The director annoyingly rewrote parts of my script, bypassing major punchlines. That's life when you're a measly script writer, i guess. 

Somehow 4 hours turned into 8 hrs, but that's just how it goes shooting vid sometimes. Oh well, i had no other commitments tonight. 

If the end product is interesting at all (not likely, but you never know) i'll post it. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1 - Accidentally Thematic

Incidentally, my last post for Nat'l Blog Posting Month for 2011 was entitled "i Love My Job (For Today at Least." Today, for work i got to a) sort of sleep in and then was b) sent off to Peking University and Tsinghua University to c) take photos indicative of autumn. Having never been onto either campus before, it was pretty awesome, and there were indeed some spectacular shots to shoot. (Though if there was no yellow or red leaves in them, they were off-topic).

Think about it: this is the kind of shit i'd get up early in the morning to do on the weekend.  Just walking around beautiful places, shooting pix of whatever. So i did that for maybe 4 or 5 hours, then i went to the office where i played a bit w/ Photoshop. And got paid for it. Gosh knows how much time i'd spent before editing photos without being on the payroll.  i was kind of annoyed that i had to work an hour past official quitting time, but that's what i get for starting work an hour late. 

Anyhow, point being that 11 months after i started up w/ CRI , i still sometimes walk around thinking, "Best Job in the World."

And somebody had the nerve to ask, "Did you take that picture yourself?"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween 2012 in BJ

Seeing as how it was Yoyo's 1st Halloween (more or less: she'd never worn a costume for the occasion) so i thought i ought drag her out. 

We (I) ended up deciding we should go to the Yen Fetish Party, purportedly one of BJ's biggest and craziest parties. I ended up creating my best halloween costume ever, the Robomney 3000. Part man, part machine, all politician. Not necessary calling candidates machines, but possibly critiquing the 2 party system. 'Cause if there were a THIRD party, that was exactly 1/2 way between Romney and Obama, Robamney 3000 would take the cake, and the presidency. 

Yoyo was a cat, after deciding that being an iPad would be way too much hassle. 

Anyhow, the party was definitely more fun that i'd expected. Tons of inebriated people. Tons of eye candy: (big crew of sexy (but bloodied up) nurses and doctors, star wars characters, plain ol' fetish garb, etc etc. Even the music was passable. 

But that was about all i could take.  Hung over the next morning i had to go out to the Hilton's Food & Wine show (for work). I barely even drank. Spat most of the alcohol into the spittoon buckets: kind of gross, kind of pretentious, the perfect balance.

Then me and Yoyo bailed on the subway party, the punk rock show, and the zombie run, opting instead to sleep like the world depended on it. 

Yoyo and some angry mofo.


Romney contemplates the spirit of Halloween.
Greedo and the babe from Jabba's party

Robomney 3000 dominated the dance floor

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Friend's birthday yesterday.
One of BJ's biggest parties of the year tonight.
Food & Wine tasting event at the Hilton tomorrow afternoon.
(that's for work, but i can still drink my face off, should i choose to do so)
Subway party: one loop on Line  2.
Possibly people over for drinks afterwards.
Or a Halloween punkrock show.
Then possibly some zombie run thing Sunday.

13:40 right now, and i can barely keep my eyes open.

also note: yesterday i bet 100 yuan that i'd get my picture published in a magazine or website after tonight's party. Def one of my best costumes ever:
The Robomney3000! Also Yoyo's 1st time dressing up for Halloween, so it should be fun...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

birthday shenanigans

I woke up. 
i did 38 push ups. 
Put on a tie and jacket
(for fun).
Jogged to the subway station.
Meditated for the whole trip
Sid my work at work reasonably diligently. 
Took a long lunch break to play chess w/ my colleague. 
Which we'd been planning for for months. 
it was an epic battle. 
i really wanted to win. 
But then the game was so fascinating
(power swaps,
blood baths)
that i stopped caring who'd win. 
Which is pbly why i squeaked a victory. 
Then i hurried home to cook Thai green curry. 
Before guests arrived. 
Veg potluck.
Maybe 15 friends.
Finished off all my Mongolian horse milk booze. 
played w/ the remote control helicopter. 
Ate a bit of carrot cake.
Went to bed.
i felt as if the universe was onside that day.
Yay 3-8.

Tel: 15010476252
China Radio International

Sunday, September 30, 2012

out and about

Quick note, before leaving super duper early for a plane to Changsha tomorrow morning.

1. Last couple weeks, i've been assigned to visit towns outside of BJ downtown area. I visited 7 spots, some of which were stellariffic, some of which were pretty goodish. Took some rather nice pix, if i do say so myself, which are all showcased on a page the editor made, basically all about the places i wrote up.

Once in a while i got to squeeze in a joke or 2.

In addition, the magnificence of nature is interspersed with genuine manmade entertainment. If you tire of staring at the waterfalls, then why not hop into a floating inflatable wheel where you can tumble and roll in your own padded cell? Has all the climbing made you pine for your Toyota? Then maybe you'll be refreshed by a few minutes in a bumper car. Disappointed you can't ride a horse up the canyon? Why not take a ride on the mechanical bull?

Anyhow, i do get opportunities to hike or sit on chairlifts, gawk at the view and think Best Job Ever once in a while.

You can see the page HERE. Best pix from the Lingshan Mountain article. Which i hiked up w/ Yoyo. Super fun. Tallest peak in BJ.

Geez, can you believe i still have the nerve to complain about my job sometimes?

Oh, come on, click on the link. I was flattered they they gave me my own page.

2. It's now Golden Week. National holiday for like all of China. Going to Changsha w/ Derrick and Yoyo for our good friends' wedding. Super cool American guy and his awesome CN gf, both super active in the music scene in BJ. After the wedding stuffs, me and Yoyo will go to Zhangjiajie for 4 days, which should be super fun. Super getting on w/ Yoyo, yay. She's rad.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Pad

Yup, got a new spot, after spending countless hours looking at countless places that were deemed (by Derrick, who's much pickier than me) unsatisfactory.

The new place is 1 minute walk from the old place, in one of the best spots in town.

It's also smaller, not as good, and more expensive.

Which is all totally unsurprising, considering the BJ real estate market.

Everyone loves a bubble.

The House Cooling Party

That's the poster made by Yoyo, my gf!

A while ago, me and D had our House Cooling Party. 'Cause we were getting kicked out. Lease up, landlord's daughter moving bk to BJ, us booted out to make space.

So we threw a party to say gbye to our swanky pad. Themed it Dispossessed Peoples of the World, bought a bunch of booze, invited lots of people, plus their friends and relatives. Anyhow, interesting mix of people came out. A few people from work, from my running group, from around. Good balance of possibly 40% Chinese folk (mostly Yoyo's friends). Lots of whom i just met that night.

Also the winning crew who barely beat my team in the world's shortest triathlon that very afternoon, also came out which was pretty hilarious. Pretty damn fun party, it turned out. Just lots of fun interesting people. Semi-professional musicians jamming in the bedroom. Smokers on the balcony when the rain let up. Skater-style art give-aways donated by Yoyo's friend. (He suggested doing a lottery, but i knew that trying to organize it would be impossible at that point).

Neighbours had been warned of the party, and knew my phone # in case we became a headache. But the cops arrived anyways. Not that i saw them. Derrick didn't either. But someone turned the music down and they went away. A few days later, i learned that it was a woman in a house across the street who called them in. Fuck, it wasn't that loud!

But there was a lot of people. Maybe 40? A bit tight to navigate through the lounge. Even the crappy dip i made got consumed. It really was a great spot for parties, but when i was w/ Q, she was like, "i hate parties," so like, we never had anything more than a few people over for din.

Lots of people who couldn't make it out told me they were sorry to miss it. "Yeah, well, no problem. i didn't actually talk to anybody the whole night somehow." Or at least i don't particularly recall doing so. But i was also tipsy enough that my memory of the whole night's a bit on the hazy side anyway.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

30 points to Up To Date.

Guess what? I'm still here. I scratched my elbow back in Canada, but somehow got through it.

  1. Started dating a lovely woman named Yoyo.
  2. Went to Canada.
  3. Tried to help my parents stop bickering w/ some degree of success.
  4. Did some hiking.
  5. Mountain bike camping.
  6. Boat camping.
  7. Visited some of my wonderful friends, even though the time was too short.
  8. Snubbed a few by not visiting. (sorry)
  9. Ate veg lasagna, olives, pesto, Mexican, org veg from the garden.
  10. lots of clean air.
  11. one bachelor party
  12. voted against going to the peelers
  13. didn't miss my flight back to China
  14. house hunted with Derrick
  15. went to Chengdu and Shenzhen w/ 18 other journalists.
  16. My managers got chewed out for not telling me more directly what to do
  17. 'Cause i kinda slacked it.
  18. Chengdu: boomtown
  19. Shenzhen: life post-manufacturing boom
  20. Scored an apartment.
  21. mini triathlon on Saturday.
  22. 1500m race on Saturday.
  23. Probably can't do the 1500m race for CRI, 'cause i'm double booked.
  24. with the triathlon.
  25. So maybe will run w/ my group Sat morning.
  26. House-cooling party in teh evening.
  27. Wow, all caught up in 26 pts.
  28. There is no 28.
  29. Or 29.
  30. 'cause everybody likes round numbers.
(31. Yu Wenxia: role model for Chinese women around the planet)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Grassland Extreme Marathon in Inner Mongolia: Kicked my ass

Well, i didn't see that one coming. This race was way harder than i was expecting. Please copy and paste the link below to read a fine example of my nonfiction and suffering.


Note: i didn't perform at all like i'd hoped to, so was totally shocked to see that i placed 30th out of 72. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Soon Is Now?

Since Q and I have started moving apart, 2-3 months ago, i've been experiencing a strange barrage of attention from the ladies. Pretty much unsolicited, and occasionally awkward. (Why couldn't this have happened when i was 19?)

Like one woman i spoke w/ at a friend's gf's bday party (spoke with for about 2 minutes) later requested my phone # from my friend, and then started sending me a string of texts, which i politely replied to. Then she was like, would you like to meet up on Thursday? Anyday is good for me, actually. 

so I was like, ok, fine, meet up on Thurs. She's actually very nice, but (as i suspected) we had virtually zero common ground. She thought i was a freak for being veg, and not using disposable chopsticks. She enjoys walking around the shopping mall. She likes 50 Cent and J. Bieber. Yadda yadda. I did my best to be polite, while trying not to impress. Luckily, it was pretty clear even to her that there was no chemistry happening. Whew!

Also a coworker seemed a bit into me, and the close physical proximity was making me feel pretty uncomfortable for a bit. 

A sort of crazy rock girl from a BJ's best livehouse gave major hints that she would fall asleep at the wheel one night. So i let her crash on the bed downstairs. Then she oddly hung out most of the next day while i did my errands. 

Also, i was invited to a singles party for Xinhua news and CRI media folk. Which could be interesting in that Hey-Let's-Try-Speed-Dating way, but i declined. 

My Vegging Out cohost Lucy (who's super cool, married, and not into me, ha) said, "sq, it's too soon for you to date anyone." And i sort of agree. 


i went to this party held by BJ's coolest record label, Modern Sky, and met this very friendly graphic designer there. Later, we had a bit of clumsy dialogue on Weibo (the Chinese version of Facebook/Twitter), and then met up for coffee last Sunday. 

She was really sweet. Her Eng is quite limited, so we required some iphone translation assistance now and again. But i certainly appreciated her patience. 

She's also the 1st person in China i've met who does volunteer work, helping out w/ an art class for underprivileged kids. 

She runs, and is even up for joining my group at 8:30 am this Saturday.

Anyhow, i'm hesitant to jump into things full throttle, although my libido isn't. For better or worse, i consider public opinion ("Oh look, William has a new gf already!"). Also, being in China, i've started wondering about the purpose of any relationship if it's not pointed towards marriage. Lame, i know. 

I was rather enjoying a bit of single time, but if you meet someone cool and have some connection, isn't it natural to see where it could go? 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Marijuana: Straight Talk

Finally, some common sense straight talk about marijuana and the law! Gotta love it.

Vegging Out

A while ago, the travel editor suggested we do a video series about BJ's veg restaurants. i was like, "what a hassle. Why can't i just write articles as usual?"

But it's been  a super fun project. Great team of cohost Lucy Luan, producer, director, and camera operator(s). And another person or 2 to just hang out in the background.

Done 6 so far, and will do another 1 or 2. Beats just writing articles all the time. Plus we get to meet cooks, and they recommend meals, and prep special stuffs for us. We don't "review", but showcase. Can't complain. Just eat, smile, and try to crack a few jokes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stupid Air

When the air quality index is up to 239, it really hampers my training schedule. Drag, that. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

End of an Era: Q

Well, if you haven't heard already... me and Q have split up. i guess i haven't felt like writing about it, even though it'd been building up towards this ending for quite some time. Today i helped her move into her new apartment out by the art district. 

Then i came home and took my bike into the bike shed, where the guy who lives there asked me what summer plans were for me, my bro, and gf. i mentioned that Q wouldn't be around since she just moved away and we'd broken up. 
"That's not acceptable! You shouldn't break up! You two need to get married!"
"Well, there's nothing to be done. We already broke up. And she got a new apartment. She moved."
"That's not acceptable!"

In the most basic mandarin, i did try to explain my relationship to the bike shed guy.

1. We argued quite a bit.
2. Q definitely wanted to get married, but i believe that if we did so, she would be unsatisfied. In large part because
3. Our communication was never very good. 

So it was definitely my call to end things. Not an easy decision to make, but i think that the main thing that could've lead me towards a future with Q was inertia. And that's no good reason. Yes, i love her, but somehow not enough. i had trouble imagining buying a ring for her. And "maybe why not?" seems like terrible reasoning to enter marriage. 

Also, life with Q has never been easy for either one of us. We both put in loads of effort, yet often felt like we put in more than the other, or that the other didn't recognize what efforts had been made, what injustices had been swallowed. 

On the whole i feel like i did the right thing for both of us, but today was still a bit tough. We packed out all her stuff (which was most of the stuff in the apartment), and inadvertently said goodbye to the little presents we'd given and received over the past 1070 days. 

Q has always found it bizarre that i'm friends w/ a bunch of my exes, as that's definitely not the norm in China. But it looks like we're going to give it a go. i think this is really courageous on her part. i hope to be a good friend to her.

She really is an amazing person. Intelligent, caring, artistic, beautiful, intuitive... It may have been the rockiest relationship i've ever been in, but it's still pretty amazing to have had the chance to be with her for our time together.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gutter Oil: It's Fucking Epidemic

I heard a long time ago from Q not to eat in cheap restaurants 'cause they use gutter oil. That's oil taken out of the sewers. But i didn't really believe her. And the cheap restaurants are too tasty to stay away from.
But then gutter oil started getting more and more press.
And one reporter even got lynched for covering it. Cause gutter oil across this massive country is worth millions of rmb to the gangs who run the operations.
But recently my friend and i stopped outside of any alley cafe to sip some wine, when along comes this guy. He yanks the manhole cover off of the whole and proceeds to scoop ladles of fucking sick-ass lumpy fat discarded by restaurant into a bucket. Of course, i whipped out my always dependable iPod, and shot some low quality footage. My friend asks him, "what are you doing? What are you going to do with that?" But she couldn't really understand his provincial accent.
One: gutter oil is disgusting. Two: gutter oil is carcinogenic. Three: after it's filtered and processed, gutter oil looks like normal oil. Four: don't expect the police to stop gutter oil.
And then just two days later, my co-host's co-host saw someone by our workplace collecting gutter oil.
But i admit that sometimes i still eat at the totally dirt-cheap place.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Jesus and Mary Chain at China Music Valley Festival

I was totally shocked when I first read that the Jesus and Mary Chain were coming to Beijing to play a show. As a teenager, I was a bit of headcase for these four young leather-clad lads. Headed by Jim and William Reid with their unruly locks, they were quintessential UK Britrock, plus they heralded the use of screaming feedback to accompany the sort of melodic songs that people can write within a week of picking up a guitar. Not only that, but they shamelessly advocated drug use in their songs, and made numerous explicit metaphors about oral sex. What teenager wouldn't love them? My walls were plastered with several Mary Chain posters. I would break a sweat to realize that the library had a new copy of Melody Maker which had a cover feature about the new JMC album. I shamefully cut out the article and thumbtacked it to my bedroom wall. My own songwriting and vocal style are directly indebted to the JMC. My list of Things To Do In This Lifetime included seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain live. I kinda crossed it off the list as i grew less enamoured with them over the years, but that's no reason not to see them when they come knocking on your doorstep. They were the Saturday headliners. William's probably doubled his weight since the days when he and his bro wrote Psychocandy. Pretty decent-sized crowd stuck out for the whole show, despite a thunder and lightning storm which took place. Even in their heyday they had a reputation for being shit performers, so I didn't expect much. Plus they're like 20 years older. Pluse Jim and William hated each others guts for years after the break up. Etc, etc... William shuffled around, hunched over his guitar, never looking up at the crowd (as he's always done). Jim's voice sounded exactly the same as before, and he sang much better than i was expecting. Not only that, but he seemed quite pleasant. He said "xiexie" a number of times. He even cracked a couple jokes, which kinda shocked me. "I'd like to say thanks to everyone for sticking it out through the rain. And fuck off to all of those who didn't." He actually seemed pretty gracious. i guess you shouldn't be an angsty teen up into your 50s. Hell, they even played an encore. They didn't sound great, but it did sound pretty good. Mostly i was happily drowning in nostalgia, singing along with most every song. Shit, when's the last time I thought about songs like Blues From a Gun, or Sidewalking? It was pretty darn fun. Also Glasvegas (who totally rocked the casbah) played Some Candy Talking earlier on. Actually, the Glasvegas version actually sounded better. But you know how it is: it's all about the music. It's not about the... oh, never mind.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apple Ipod Touch: What a piece of shit

Well my friend got an iphone so i helped him out by buying this  thing. Wasted way too much time trying to get it registered so i can get apps, took it to the Apple store but they couldn't help me, had some email w/ customer support, and basically progress on just setting the thing up has been ZERO. The credit card company assured me it's not a problem from that end.

I'm sure that this is a wonderful piece of life-changing technology if i could actually use it. But for now i just think it's a piece of drippy shit worth fuck all. 

PS. It's true that i haven't been getting enough sleep lately, so please take that into account. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Past the First Hurdle

Me and a coworker wrote up a proposal, saying we wanted to cover a bunch of stories (of-the-non-self-immolation-variety) in Tibet.

Then we heard from one manager that he really liked our proposed stories and schedule. He even suggested a couple stories that we may want to consider.

That's great. We're stoked.

But the fact is that this is far from an actual confirmation about whether or not we'll make it to Tibet. There's still at least one other proposal for the trip floating around CRI, and another team of radio reporters who are also organizing for the same destination, plus shitloads of visa issues to be dealt with. Plus CRI doesn't generally send two foreigners out without a Chinese national along. Even though my coworker's mandarin is pretty solid. In Tibet even Chinese nationals have trouble with Tibetan or different accents, whatever that means.

At this point, we give ourselves 50-50 odds.

FYI, Natalie is from the UK, and has does some decent work for CRI, such as the vid below, which is pretty damn good. Michael Jackson impersonators in China; and way more gripping than that Mr Lonely movie.