Saturday, November 22, 2014

DAy 23: women's rights over their own bodies

I'd just finished editing and exporting a video but then when one of the editors saw it, he was like, "Oh, we shouldn't use the part where the chef hugs ZQ." I was confused. The chef won a prize,  ZQ delivered him his present, then he scooped her up in his arms, and everyone laughed. It looked good on film.

Turns out she had requested the pix/vid of that moment not be used. This was a great annoyance to me, since 1) it made my video more entertaining 2) re-editing is more work 3) other people had requested to not be in the vid, and i refused to edit them out, and 4) ZQ is a public figure and she was ON STAGE, so what right does she have to tell anyone not to take pix/vid?

But the more i thought about it, the more it struck me that something deeper was at work in that moment. Four professional chefs (all white men), in a competition. One wins. He playfully scoops up the young woman who delivers his prize, split seconds after another chef cheered him on to do it. "Do it! Do it!" Kind of an ol' boys club thing.

Anyhow, even though ZQ laughed along and was a sport, that she likely didn't want to be picked up. Also she was on stage so she needed to go w/ the flow. But evidently it was a moment when she wasn't in control of her own body.

So anyhow, in the wake of all the Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby biz, i got a bit more tuned into what people mean when they talk about men and our presumed right over women's bodies. Anyhow, on Monday, i'll make that video 3 seconds shorter and re-export it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 19: Headaches

Having a lovely time w/ the CDN immigration folks. But i should'nt go into detail because it would amount to pure complaining. 

Progress made: they have confirmed that they received the immigration package, but there's a problem with it. They apparently sent me an email, but it was def never received. 

I'll call back tonight. 

The difficulties incurred in attaining this information were not mentioned in this blog. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 18: Interstellar

Chris Nolan's big epic sci fi movie tackles relativity, quantum physics, black holes, enviro degradation, and the saving of humanity.

Never before have i rolled my eyes so many times during a movie. From Hollywood cliches to ridiculous dialogue to gaping plot holes to overuse of sfx and soundtrack to squeeze emotions out of viewers... the flick is pretty ridiculous.

But it's also pretty damn entertaining for 3 solid hours.  The plot is pretty gripping, despite its Hollywood hokeyness.Actors all pretty darn convincing. And i admit that i like it that ideas about multiple dimensions are getting fed to the general public. And it does portray a not-so-distant planet Earth that's ecologically fucked by humanity, which is a healthy reminder. But then again, life on a devastated planet is portrayed as being 99% the same as what we see today. And also there's the narrative that after you fuck up the planet you gotta run away to another planet. Hollywood's addiction to sentimental happy endings isn't really challenged, which frankly disappoints me.

Despite well-publicized flaws, Interstellar is a movie that will likely stick in your head far more than the other blockbuster baloney that is today's standard.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 15: Crabby

So in the end, the iching basically told me that regarding the crabs, i'd made my point, but whatever i do pbly won't amount to much difference.

Yoyo invited a couple friends over, and we had a big lunch together. i didn't eat the crabs, though i did indulge w/ the potatoes and carrots that were drenched in pork fat. Yummmm.

But before eating the crabs, i untied all of them since i don't imagine being tied up in the fetal position would be very fun for several days. Made me think of the Cultural Revolution when guys had their hands tied up behind their backs, tied so tight that their hands turned completely black due to lack of circulation. Some of them climbed out of the box and scuttled around the apartment for a while. Don't know how they felt about that, but i'm sure it was much much better than sitting around tied up for their last hours.

Then they all got steamed and were reportedly delicious.

Question: is getting steamed any worse than being eaten alive? Nature is a tough lady.

Day 14: In-laws

Met up w/ some of Yoyo's more distant relatives who were in BJ from Nanjing. Took them out to Quanjude, a rather expensive Peking Duck restaurant that had a huge line up and mediocre food. That's what you get w/ a restaurant that has "history" in the capital. Afterwards i told Yoyo that next time she should suggest a restaurant w/ better food. She countered that that would've been inappropriate as they already wanted to go to. Oh well. Anyhow, it was fine, and they invited us out to Nanjing to hang out sometime, so we'll pbly make a wkend of it sometime next spring. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 12: Meditation Group

My old meditation group fell apart 'cause i moved out west. But i started a new group here, mostly w/ just a few coworkers. The group is pretty small. 2 or 3 people attending (inc me) is pretty common. Once it was a party of one.

Once a friend said it was very generous of me to make my home available for this purpose and to teach some meditation. i truthfully answered that i don't do it for YOU, i do it for ME.

it'd be good to have some folks w/ more bkground in meditation attending, but it's mostly newbies w/ me. But that's ok. Some people have had some surprisingly direct results, so it's great to be able to facilitate that.

Still, it'd be good to get some more folks involved. i attended a yoga session at CRI today for the 1st time which was pretty good. If i get to know some folks there, then maybe i could find some crossover crowd...

Day 13: Hairy Crab Dilemma

A couple of Yoyo's relatives arrived in BJ and gave us exactly 10 hairy crabs. Living. To eat.

They're pretty expensive. But i don't wanna eat 'em, and it's too many for Yoyo. i just want 1 crab to symbolically set free. Yoyo can give the rest away to friends or whomever. Yoyo already steamed 3 of them, which kinda depressed me. So i said a little Buddhist prayer for them, and sent them some metta, which made Yoyo feel kinda annoyed 'cause she started feeling guilty and not like she wanted to eat them anymore. So i stopped. But i did find it pretty depressing when the stove got hot and started rattling with steam.

i felt the least i could do was to untie one of them so it wasn't all fucking cramped up strait-jacket-like. Then stuck 'em in the fridge to make them sleepy.

Anyhow, if i can think of a source of water around here, i'll deliver him/her there. Problem is there ain't much "natural" water sources around here. According to wikipedia, hairy crabs can handle lead and pollution pretty well, so that's good. But also it's pretty darn cold in BJ these days. So chances are these crabs are all destined to have short futures. That's kinda sad, but also just the way the world works.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 11: 11-11, aka Singles Day, which happens to also be Online Shopping Insanity Day

History Lesson.
11-11 looks like a bunch of singles, so somebody online jokingly said, It's Singles Day! It caught on and spread until the custom became that singles would meet up w/ other singles to increase yr odds of finding a boy/girlfriend.
But also.
November had no major holiday, and therefore no reason for Chinese citizens to run out and buy shit. So folks at Taobao website were like, "No girlfriend/boyfriend to love you? Why not love yourself and (naturally) BUY YOURSELF some shit (like a vibrator)?" And this quickly became the biggest online shopping day of the year w/ crazy discounts blah blah.

That's them.

For me, i had to work as a camera man shooting the Singles Day edition of Chopsticks & Beyond, a project which i have little enthusiasm for (even though i'm kinda proud of editing the last edition into a pretty darn watchable little piece of culinary action).

Today was 50+ singles watching a professional food competition, then doing teenage flirting games, and the winners each got a plane ticket to Taiwan. Not bad! Will they go? Will they go together? 

Anyhow, i have no idea what this it'll look like after i edit it dn to 3 minutes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 10: Up the Mountain

No big plans for this 4 day wkend, but i did say earlier that i wanted to ride my bike up a mountain, 'cause there's this mntn visible in the distance from my apartment w/ a pagoda at its peak, so i assumed there's a road that goes way up there.

Me and my friend William (a triathlon buddy) rode our bikes up there. Turned out to be way farther than i thought, looping around trying to find the right road up to the top. We almost gave up just when we'd gotten close-ish. i was pretty beat, riding/walking a single speed bike up the super steep incline. i was hungry and was out of water. William was tired too. Thankfully William brought lots of snacks and water and shared them out. So we doubled our efforts to get to the top.

20 min later we arrived almost at the top, where a guy at the gate demanded $7 entrance fee. So we're like, fuck that, and wander off to the adjacent peak for some equally lovely views, despite the polluted weather (turns out APEC has totally not been able to get blue skies for its entirety).

Then the ride dn was crazy insane, steep and fast, constantly winding. Adrenaline and icy fingers.

Ride home, hot dinner, hot shower, glass of scotch, blog, bed.

Yay fun.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 9: environmental issues, as usual

A while ago, a panel of UN scientists said that humanity needs to get off of fossil fuels by 2100, or we'll really be fucked. Ok. But the problem is that the huge majority of people and governments won't want to give up the cheap energy that oil and gas provide us. Even i won't like it, though i say i'd be willing to accept it. 

The point is that individuals can never make a sweeping change such as that. Governments would need to seize the reins of industry and force a new direction. But that's not gonna happen in a democracy. But what about in a 1 party state? Yoyo explained to me that it's even less likely to happen in China, as every govt official reached their position through serious family and business connections: lots of people you can't alienate. So no dice there. Shame, that. 

Anyhow we got into this weird conversation about my own environmental practice, which is admittedly pretty small potatoes. So i try and recycle a few bottles, reuse some plastic bags, ride a bike, and avoid flying once in a blue moon. Yoyo rightly says that the amount of change this creates, or the number of people it influences are far too miniscule to create real change. So i argue that i'm not exactly trying to create change but just to do what i'm supposed to do. If i have a platform to connect w/ the public, and i've certainly had a few, then i'll do that, but my goal isn't to change the world at this point in time. 

Yoyo feels that if my environmental actions affect her own standard of living, then she can't accept it. I'm pretty sure it's a fact that the number of people, say, avoiding air travel for enviro reasons is pretty damn small. And fair enough, i've traveled to countries 'round the globe, loved every minute of it, and obviously anybody (especially Chinese folks) would also love the opportunity to do so. The discussion def wasn't an argument but it was kinda tense, i thought. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 8: My cell phone issue

Last night i was w/ my coworker friend at a gig. During the majority of the gig he was on his phone WeChatting with somebody. Ok fine. People do that. He prioritizes the chat, he misses the live show of a Mongolian folk rock band.

The problem is me. It drove me nuts to stand next to him and his phone. I would move fwds so that the phone was no longer in my field of view. But for some reason it still bugged the hell out of me. Eventually, i squeezed my way into the crowd to forget it.

Same thing happened to me during a really cool dance-kung fu performance in Zhengzhou. My coworker was WeChatting messages to people all through the performance, telling them how great it was, and it was super hard for me to watch the show, her phone just sucking my enthusiasm away.

I'm not complaining that people should stop messaging so much, and live in the moment, yadda yadda. But that's not really the problem. The problem is in my head.

'Cause somebody using their phone is their biz, not mine. And i fully recognize that my reaction to this minor and normal 21st century stuff is out of proportion. Dunno. Maybe i just need to meditate more.

Day 7: 100 word story

A while ago my writing group decided to put ideas into a hat and everybody pulled out 2.

1. Nuclear bomb
2. Alcoholic.

So i was supposed to write a story including these 2 things. i started a great story about an alcoholic when tipsy one night, but couldn't figure out how to work in the bomb.

Then a guy invited me to do this 100 word story thing, so it seemed like an opportunity to deal w/ my karma. Here's my story.

Fact: an atomic bomb was detonated 8.4 km from where Wally Kazinsky was repairing the toilet in a decent brothel. The brick house shivered violently from the blast, a few windows shattered. There’d been talk of an attack, and Wally considered the possibility. He grabbed his glass of scotch before he went to look out the window. His legs were wobbly. Maybe nervous, but definitely  drunk. People were crying, hurt, bleeding. Fuck. They were probably already bathed in radiation. Wally was dizzy but lucid enough. Time for emergency measures. He found his hammer, and headed to the corner liquor store.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 6: Blue Sky Day

Bk in the day APEC in my mind was a bunch of peaceful protesters getting pepper sprayed in the face by belligerent cops in riot gear.

Today, APEC to me means a 4 day weekend and plenty of blue skies. Because in welcoming dignitaries from across the world, Beijing has shut down most factories in the vicinity in order to avoid face-costing smoggy skies. Actually, yesterday was still surprisingly bad, but otherwise it's been exceptionally clear.

But we paid for it already, i figure. In the weeks leading up, the air was pretty shit and i assume it's 'cause factories had all stepped up production in anticipation of the upcoming days of closure. Somebody called that a conspiracy theory; but it's not a conspiracy, its common sense. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 5: Belly dance

Today i had a belly dance lesson.
Last time i had one was when i was 19 years old, more than 20 years ago.
My friend was teaching it, and she was worried that if only 1 student was available today they'd pbly cancel class, so i figured i should join in.
The other student was also a dude, oddly enough.
As before, i'm still kinda stiff in the hips. Frankly if it's not free form dancing to electro dance tracks, i'm not much of a dancer.
Her iphone battery was about to die, so i was thinking, "ok, maybe we'll get to finish class early!" But then she ran off to get the power cord, ha.
Well, it was still ok, but frankly belly dancing seems a bit too girly for me. Hell, i wasn't that much into swing class either, and swing music kicks ass.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

National Blog Posting Month Day 4: The Music Muse

i used to feel like a bit of an alt music connoisseur. i used to listen to and buy cds at Zulu Records. For a while i actually had cds being mailed to me to review (mostly cds i didn't have much to say about). Anyhow, i have a few opinions, but music has become much less important in my life than it used to be.

i still love it, and enjoy a good show, but silence is a-ok too more often than not.

Mostly i feel the difference when people ask me what music i like, and i don't know what to say. "Lots of stuff. Mostly indie-alt," i say, then struggle in vain to think of any examples that aren't like a decade old. It's kind of weird.

Yesterday a surprising number of my coworkers were all going on about heavy metal, death metal and thrash bands, and at least i could relax about not being expected to know anything that they were going on about.

i wonder sometimes that maybe it'd be nice to play a guitar again, maybe even write a song trusty acoustic guitar used to be my most precious possession. i used to play it daily, and my heart poured itself into the songs that tumbled out of my fingers. But the truth is i haven't written a song worth memorizing in over 5 years, and i gave my guitar away 6 months ago (since it warped and played like shit).

Maybe i can borrow my coworker's guitar. If i get up the nerve to ask to borrow. it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 4: Late start and revisiting Indonesia

Hey! Where's days 1,2,3? Well, i've been a bit busy. You know how it is. But at least i've got one project down and under the belt now: i finished me and Yoyo's honeymoon video! Before we left, Yoyo suggested we make a dancing music video during our honeymoon. i was like, "um, are you serious?" She was. So we did it. And it was pretty fun. Also fun to edit.

i'm pretty happy w/ it, considering that we barely planned anything, and that i did it on a borrowed camera, and i never quite figured out how the focus worked, ha.

Let me know what you think, yo. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Let's Get Wed

On May 17th, 2014, me and Yoyo had our wedding. We just wanted to do sth simple, but then the next thing you know there's 80 people on the invitee list, tons of "wedding stuff" that needing taking care of. However, by Chinese standards, we still kept things on the simple side and opted to forgo most of the expected/traditional parts of a Chinese wedding ceremony, save for one. Yoyo's mom couldn't accept an evening wedding, 'cause in northern China, weddings in the evening are for 2nd marriages. Our wedding ceremony officially had to be 100% concluded by 12:58 pm.

Despite a late start, the wedding went off pretty damn smooth. i made my entrance on an old Beijing bike, amazed that people could be so amazed by a gimmick like that.

The host and translator were a Dutch couple, friends of me and Yoyo. The Chinese audience seemed particularly surprised to see the tall foreigner talking perfect Chinese, and his Chinese wife translating him into perfect English.

Yoyo mad her appearance to the Grimes track "Symphonia IX," a bit unconventional, but when i heard Grimes play that track at a show last year, it struck me as the song that Yoyo should use to walk down the a

I made a brief speech which began, "I hope it's ok if i use this time to talk a bit about politics," and hope that by the speech's end a few people were misty-eyed.  Then there was a surprise dance performance by me and two mutual friends of the song Yoyo. It's a disco track and as soon as i found it months ago, i knew it had to be performed at the wedding.

Me and Yoyo did a bit of swing dance, as we've been taking some classes. And yes i'm a pretty shitty lead, but that way you can score points for being unpretentious. The last performance was a traditional Beijing "bianlian" guy who whips through a series of masks, and i still have no idea how it's done. That was for the older folks, though apparently it surprised the younger gang too.

vAnyhow, the speeches were all short and sweet and funny, Yoyo was crying, i was a bit teary myself, and the performances were all pretty fun. We wanted to throw a fun party, and did. According to one Chinese friend, we "broke all the rules." Whatever that means. People seemed to really dig the whole thing. My mom (possibly biased, who knows) said it was the funnest wedding she'd ever been to, so that's great. Happy to please. 

After the ceremony for the banquet, some tables were a bit raucous, while others were rather stilted, but what can you do. i mean hey, i can't force people to get drunk and chitchat with strangers.

Also, we screened this vid at some point in time.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Before and After

Well. Look at what a hair stylist, make up artist, costume stylist, and photo shop editor will do to you in a Chinese wedding studio.

If you like this, i can post more ridiculous pictures.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Quest to Tell the TRUTH

There was once a time when some bonehead (haha) in the Chinese media published a picture of Homer Simpson's brain, assuming the image was a medical reference. Because not all Chinese reporters are culturally savvy, or have journalistic integrity.

A couple times now i've caught CRI making similar mistakes. Like this article about how Qiang minority people have different skulls than today's modern skulls. But the texturing on the skull definitely looked odd. "Does this skull look weird to you?" I asked the web editor. "No," he answered.

But i pulled up a photo of Damian Hirst's rather acclaimed artwork, which is a platinum cast skull covered by £50m of diamonds. And bingo, that was the "skull" being used a medical reference.

Oh CRI, that's why i love working here so much!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Latest

Hey gang!
Just wanted to say hi before I run off for Chinese New Year/Spring Fest over at the in-laws! Yoyo and her parents are already over there, tapping their toes for my imminent arrival.

Should be pretty fun. You know. Drinking expensive baijiu (which still tastes less-than-pleasant), over eating, and watching the CCTV Spring Fest Gala tv show. Maybe playing basketball with Yoyo's dad. Hopefully finding time out to have a toke somewhere.

BTW, Canada was super fun. Got to see almost (but not quite) all of the folks I thought i'd get to see. Yoyo got to do a bunch of Canada winter stuff she'd never done before. Like...
drink egg nog :)
make a snowman :)
sledding :)  *what's up w/ all these f'ing old people on the hill???
eat turkey :)
X-C skiing  :(

Upon arriving in Canada she asks, "Why are all the buildings so small?"
Yoyo was also shocked at how many homeless people there were in Vancouver, in the "best city to live in" in the WORLD.
She actually liked Calgary better than Van, partly because of the above, but also 'cause in Calgary it's actually easier to shoot the breeze with random strangers than in Van. And she thinks Van and BJ aren't all that different.
Frankly, she thought Canada would be more different from CN than it actually is.
Mostly she was surprised that Canadians were so... polite! Everyone saying Hello, and How's It Going? and Thanks, and Come Again, and drivers all like stopping for pedestrians to cross the road, and letting other cars get into the lane ahead of them. That's all pretty crazy, yo.

Since getting bk to BJ, Yoyo's been feeling rather uninspired to do anything, and that's been challenging, but for now she's feeling better over at her parents. Hopefully things go well when we get bk to BJ, also planning our wedding and all that sort of fun stressy stuff. haven't got a clue how things'll pan out, but I for one plan to have some fun...

And work's been pretty lame since i got back. W/out going into details, i've been writing tons of stories for our new website (which we bought for ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS... and they can't find money for a CF card reader?) about places i've never gone, and foods i've never ate. That's pretty lameorific.

At least it shold be temporary, and admittedly hasn't been very hard.

So 春节快乐,everyone! Hope this Horse of a year will be one full of oats and kick, and may our manure help the crops grow sturdy and tall!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Wow, fascinating article here:
Two trucks loaded w/ mandarin oranges tip over in NW China, and the cops can't stop locals from stuffing as many oranges into their bags and pockets as they can squeeze in.

A cop fired a gun in the air to try and gain control over the crowd.

The article talks about how Chinese people still lack adequate moral standards. And that may be true, but also think... they're stealing a plastic bag's worth of ORANGES.  

Then there's similar pix of people looting sunflower seeds or chinese CABBAGE (also from tipped trucks). These ain't exactly big ticket items. So immoral behaviour is one issue, yes, but basic desperation is the unaddressed issue (perceived or not).

And of course, there's the issue of overloaded trucks. Hell, that's FOUR tipped trucks in the first 8 days of this year! And who knows how many weren't captured by new photographers...