Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Favourite posts from the 1st quarter of 2008

Pick of the Archive:
Favourite Posts, January-March 2008

Having discovered - slightly later than the rest of the world! - the astounding 'dancing Filipino prisoners' phenomenon, I offer up a list of requests for their next YouTube routine.

2) Chain of association - January 6th

A gloomy and depressive week produces a not-bad poem (quite possibly the only one I've written this year - what is wrong with me?!).

3) Some languages have music - January 10th

I kick off my wilfully provocative Why I Don't Learn Chinese series with this confession that I find the sound of the language severely unattractive.

4) Chinese people LOVE me! (14) - January 11th

I indulge in the obligatory ex-pat rant against the odious TV 'personality', Da Shan.

5) Rich and strange - 16th January

More bizarre discoveries from the Internet: novelty coffins from Ghana, and a Japanese artist who crafts exquisite sea creatures out of plastic bottles.

6) Belly rumbles, belly laughs - 18th January

Some choice bits of Chinglish from the new menu at my favourite local restaurant.

7) Wanderlust - 20th January

Some reflections on where the impulse to travel in me comes from - my 'black sheep' grandfather, The Wind In The Willows, and a favourite Larkin poem are cited as likely influences.

8) I WANT this book! - 21st January

I turn up a link to a list of 'weird book titles', including the irresistible 'How To Avoid Work'.

9) Chinese people LOVE me! (15) - 24th January

Some observations on who pays the bill, including an anecdote of one of my great romantic disasters. Another much commented-upon post.

10) A bon mot double whammy - 28th January

I can't resist a little riff on Voltaire - as consolation for my recent firing!

Some encounters with staff of the state-run Xinhua News wire service leads me to indulge for once - rashly! - in a little bit of politics. Extensive comments on this one too!

12) It's a funny old world - 29th January

The bizarre novelty of a two-seater toilet prompts some reflections on the shortcomings of bathroom plumbing I have encountered in China.

13) An 'It's that time of year again' haiku - 1st February

The early onset of the protracted firework overkill that is Chinese New Year fills me with trepidation.

14) Self-destructive tendencies - 8th February

Following on from my topical haiku this day, I compile a list of the suicidal behaviours I have witnessed in connection with the setting off of fireworks in the last few days.

15) The wonder of YouTube - 10th February

My favourite YouTube discovery of the year: a young guy who does brilliant lip-syncs of his favourite rock songs (in this case, What's Up? by 4 Non-Blondes).

16) More 'meme' madness - 12th February

A selection of excerpts from the 123rd page of books I'd read recently - an intriguing exercise.

17) 10,000 Maniacs - 13th February

I commemorate the milestone of the blog's 10,000th recorded visitor with this great YouTube clip of the Canadian band 10,000 Maniacs - Natalie Merchant duetting with guest David Byrne on three songs at the end of their MTV Unplugged concert.

18) A romantic(?) haiku - 15th February

A true story - I am completely smitten with a woman I saw while I was out running around Houhai lake.

19) Mao The Mischievous - 15th February

Stranger than fiction - another true story (picked up from my blog-buddy, Jeremiah) about a bizarre digression during the landmark diplomatic talks between Mao and Kissinger in 1973.

20) Another double bon mot - 18th February

Another consolation for the loss of my job at the end of last year. This time I'm riffing on a favourite line from a favourite film.

21) More Chinglish highlights (illustrated!) - 23rd February

A winter break in the far northern city of Harbin produces some amusing photographs.

22) In search of El Dorado - 25th February

The quest for China's best DVD shop (check out also this list of the most common, quirkiest faults with pirated disks out here).

23) Doing The Lantern Festival right - 28th February

Harbin seems to do the Chinese New Year's festivities so much better than Beijing. Here are some photos.

24) A bon mot on 'art' - 3rd March

Probably my favourite bon mot discovery in a long, long time - from Dilbert creator, Scott Adams.

25) Roll call - 8th March

Subbing for a friend for a month in a series of University evening classes, I discover the worst collection of 'English names' ever chosen by a single group of Chinese students. Really. The worst EVER.

26) Because it doesn't get you anywhere... (Why I don't learn Chinese [3]) - 12th March

Observations on the limited utility (in everyday situations, at least) of being able to speak Mandarin.

27) Top overseas consultant to the Beijing Olympics - revealed! - 12th March

This roundup of recent news stories on Beijing's preparations for the Olympics is so alarming (so depressing!), I can only conclude that Dr Evil has replaced Steven Spielberg as the leading foreign adviser to the Organizing Committee.

28) My Fantasy Girlfriend - Elizabeth Russell - 15th March

One of my favourites in this series so far - incorporating an extended review of the film in which the character appears, the Bollywood classic Lagaan.

29) Inverted commas - the Chinese propaganda machine's deadliest weapon - 17th March

My comment on the Chinese governments unintentionally hilarious penchant for referring to everything they don't like as "so-called...... democracy, freedom, human rights, etc."

30) Don't sling mud - 20th March

Morose observations on the most common responses to the Tibetan troubles in the Chinese blogsphere, kicking off my occasional series of more politically slanted posts, Free Advice For The Chinese Leadership.

31) Un-banned! - 24th March

The lifting of the censorship block that's been imposed on my two blogs for most of this month reminds me of an anecdote from my early teaching days here, an illustration of the occasionally rather creative mangling of English that the Chinese can produce.

32) I just wish they'd make their f***ing minds up! - 30th March

My summary of the ways in which China's Internet censors have been trying to disrupt our lives over the past few weeks - and an impassioned request for them to STOP!

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