Sunday, April 06, 2008

List of the Month - my next batch of ming pian

Business cards (in Chinese, ming pian) are a big deal in Asia. Everybody has them; even people with lowly, unglamorous jobs; even people with no jobs at all. And everybody exchanges them on first meeting, however casual and fleeting the encounter may be. I've got hundreds and hundreds of the sodding things littering my apartment.

Oddly enough, though, I haven't had any printed just for myself since my first or second year here. A succession of semi-full-time employers have given me industrial quantities of the bloody things, and - cheapskate that I am - I just keep using them until they're gone.

This has given me plenty of time to ponder what I might put on the next batch of cards I have made. I do such a broad range of things to earn a living out here that it could get a little complicated to explain. Anything for money is one tempting possibility. Miminalism is good, I think. High quality, plain white card: just the name - Froog - and a one-line tag. International Man Of Mystery has some appeal (except that Austin is such a twat). And I'm really tempted by the enigmatic If you have to ask..... I quite fancy Brain The Size Of A Planet as well; but I'm not sure how many people would get the reference; and I think I really ought to limit my self-descriptions to actor nouns. Blogger Extraordinaire, perhaps??

My old Oxford chum, The Mothman, I recall, always liked to jest (although I think he was repeating someone else's line, rather than claiming the ambition for himself) about being a 'Test Pilot' for the London Rubber Company (the UK's principal manufacturer of male prophylactics). Not quite my scene - but it does show you the breadth of the possibilities in this game.

Anyway, since printing is so cheap out here, I have conceived the plan - when I do finally, one day, maybe get around to printing a new set of ming pian - of getting 10 or 15 or 20 batches made at the same time, identical in style but each with a different description under the name. Then I can mix them up - and produce endless amusing distraction (or irritated befuddlement) at parties by giving a different one to everyone I meet.

A superb concept, no? I wonder, in fact, if I shouldn't try to market this idea, set up an online 'novelty' business card enterprise - the next of my Brilliant Website Ideas??

Well, I haven't quite finalised my thoughts on this yet, but here are the current leading contenders for my projected ming pian assortment. What do you think?

Decadent Intellectual
(This was once said of me by a friend in the 6th Form at school, a very cool Belgian kid who was on an exchange programme for a term or two. He pronounced it 'decayed-ent', which seemed even more appropriate.)


Film Buff

Dragon Sexer
(There's not a lot of call for it these days....)


Professional Backgammon Player
(This is in fact a semi-serious ambition; I used to be a pretty formidable exponent of the game in my youth.)

(Sadly, I fear, this may be the most accurate description of all.)

Pool Coach
(I'm not sure I could make any money at this; but I have trained a number of people in the game - including my college buddy, The Bookseller - sometimes from rank beginners to the point where they could at least occasionally beat me.)

Air Guitarist

Trivia Champion

Whisky Taster
(Oh, how I wish!)

Eternal Enigma

Joke Tester

Rejection Counsellor
(I have such a wealth of experience to draw on.)

Armchair Explorer

Sin Eater
(Don't ask!)

Wayward Genius

Raconteur & Wit

(There really ought to be such a word.)

Bar Critic

Saboteur Of Anecdotes
(I really try not to do this - to recognise someone else's story after the opening sentence, or to make too many amusing interjections, or to anticipate the punchline, or to trump it with a better one. But we all know people who do this, don't we? And I fear I may at least occasionally be guilty of it myself.)

Bon Viveur


And, my favourite (yes, it's a film reference - anybody spot it?).........

Freelance Subversive


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't want to hand that last one out to the wrong folks over there. Yikes.

I think the whole card thing is a neat idea, but I prefer my anonymity too much. In general I would rather people not be able to contact me until they have passed a series of rigorous "potential acquaintance" tests.

How about that one? "Potential Acquaintance Tester"

Froog said...

Hmm, yes, like it, OMG.

But I've got over 20 already; it's going to be tricky to keep this down to a manageable number.

Notice I didn't say I was planning to put any contact information on these. I like the idea of blank - or almost-blank - cards that you can write your mobile phone or e-mail down on if you so choose (i.e. if the girl is really hot, or if you think they might offer you a job).

What would be really cool is if the cards could have a microchip in them with a tiny interface that allowed people to send you their phone number (or e-mail address) without you having to reveal yours. Surely that's got to be possible with the state of technology now? Could be another of my great "million dollar ideas"!!

Anonymous said...

My memory is clearly failing me - in a life littered with crass moments I don't recall ever having been QUITE so crass as to describe myself as a 'test pilot for the Rubber London Company'...

I remember seeing a business card up in London once that had 'Damsels Rescued' 'Dragons Slain' and a few other choice items scattered around it.

A Yorkshire chap I knew out in Africa had me in stitches by describing himself on his card as a "former bomb disposal expert for the Andrew's Liver Salts Company" (he claimed he had been forced to retire due to the chapping of his hands by the rubber gloves). The best bit of this business card was the look of bafflement on the face of his new German employer as the Brits rolled around in hysterics.

'Raconteur, Bon Viveur and Wit' would seem an accurate (if slightly hackneyed) description on the business card of the Froog ;-)

Anonymous said...

OMG, I know what you mean. It is great to engage people in enthusiastic business (or other) conversation but I am far from keen to then have to hand over all my contact details on my card.

I need a card that is tempting/memorable (ie if they want to know what I do they can find out) but on the other hand retains my privacy. If I get to know people better or feel a connection I can write on it.

I have developed a card does this. And there is room on it for lots of notes; telephone numbers/doodles should they or I wish.

Froog, I like 'Armchair Explorer' but maybe not for a few more years. But very suitable for the older man in his senior prime! I'll be one of those, reading my way around the world.

Froog said...

I was thinking more of an explorer of armchairs, FG. It's amazing the things you can find in them. I often disappear in mine for days at a time.

Froog said...

Nobody's identified the cinematic reference in the last suggestion yet. It's the self-description of Archibald Tuttle, the rogue heating engineer cum freedom fighter played by Robert De Niro in Terry Gilliam's dystopian fantasy Brazil.