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.