Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Favourite posts from the 1st quarter of 2009

Time for another round-up of the best posts from the beginning of last year (I'm still rather behind on this 'Pick of the Archives' stuff!).....

Pick of the Archive:
Favourite Posts, Jan. - March 2009

1) Gay penguins?! - 6th January 2009
A strange-but-true story from the news prompts some musings about gay toleration (and zoo promotion) in China.

2) List(s) of the Month - Actors who might play Froog - 10th January 2009
And some actors who can't play Froog... and some who should never be allowed to play Froog.

3) Is it a game? - 11th January 2009
A Chinese academic I'm editing for drives me to distraction with his inability to employ any consistency at all in the way he refers to the USA.

4) War on.... 'Demonstration classes' - 14th January 2009
I discourse on one of the greatest of my 'pet hates' in the sphere of English teaching in China.

5) My Fantasy Girlfriend - Debbie Harry - 17th January 2009
Ah, Debbie - the ultimate pinup for any man who attained puberty in the late '70s or early '80s. I include the video for Heart of Glass.

6) I grind my teeth again - 19th January 2009
Some aggravation with a downstairs neighbour provokes some observations on Chinese staircases. I have quite a nice one; that is a very, very rare thing.

7) Innuendo alert - 20th January 2009
Recording teaching materials is a smirk-inducing job at the best of times. Here were some particularly odd lines of dialogue that provoked helpless corpsing, to the bafflement of the Chinese studio staff. (And here's another.)

8) All of Chinese 'culture' makes perfect sense, really - 21st January 2009
A link to my BookBook review of 101 Stories For Foreigners To Understand Chinese People leads to some reflections on whether China may be The Gayest Country In The World.

9) A song for China... - 24th January 2009
A nostalgic reverie about the central place in my childhood of Barry Norman's Film review programme on BBC1 introduces the fabulous theme tune from the show, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, played by its composer, the jazz pianist Billy Taylor. (More on Barry - and Nina Simone's barnstorming live performance of I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free - here.)

10) Stranger than fiction - 29th January 2009
Two favourite late-19th Century magazine advertisements (for Bovril), displaying an unexpected - anachronistic-seeming - surrealism. Also, a related recollection of The League of Health and Strength - a charitable organisation devoted to discouraging young men from masturbation.

11) Maintaining one's 'essence' - 29th January 2009
Some musings on the sex life of Chairman Mao lead irresistibly to the clip from Dr Strangelove where General Ripper expounds his theory of 'precious bodily fluids'.

12) Writing about Tiananmen - 30th January 2009
Some further thoughts on the events of 1989 as portrayed in Ma Jian's recent novel Beijing Coma. (I posted a more detailed review of this on the BookBook.)

13) Film List - never before seen in China! - 31st January 2009
Some of the classic films I have most enjoyed 'subverting' Chinese university students with.

14) Questions children ask - 5th February 2009
Some more humdingers from my recording studio scripts - and an illustration of why they don't allow me to write my own!

15) Fame at last?? - 10th February 2009
My name displayed on the side of an Edinburgh bus??!! No, it's just the Bus Slogan Generator - give it a try.

16) Nothing to see here - 12th February 2009
My thoughts on the fire at the new CCTV Building, and the 'handling' of the story in the Chinese media.

17) List of the Month - Things we most like about Chinese culture - 14th February 2009
I try to dispel my 'China-basher' image by identifying some things I really like about the country.

18) Another reason not to drink the tapwater - 23rd February 2009
A disturbing discovery in my bathroom....

19) Ride on, baby - 23rd February 2009
A brief cause célèbre on the Chinese Internet (a young girl vilified for having the temerity to climb on to the shoulders of a statue of Chairman Mao) gives me a thematic excuse to commemorate the anniversary of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott's death by posting a video tribute accompanied by their great slow blues tune Ride On.

20) Call me Ponzi - 26th February 2009
The infamous 'Ponzi scheme' starts to seem rather less immoral to me. Running one in China could even be seen as a virtuous, Robin Hood kind of venture.

21) Total Perspective Vortex - 27th February 2009
A mind-blowing CG animation of the Hubble Space Telescope's 'Deep Field' view of the distant universe (and an inevitable reference to The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy).

22) Film List - great openings - 28th February 2009
One of my favourite 'film list' posts, with appreciations of the opening sequences of 9 films - and a video clip of that great, tense, wordless first scene in Once Upon A Time In The West. (This year I added a supplementary post on this theme here.)

23) Bring it on! - 3rd March 2009
The ultimate 'celebrity death match' - Mr Bacon vs. M. Tofu. How do people come up with this stuff??

24) In a word..... NO!! - 5th March 2009
My 'War on Chinglish' series opens with a diatribe against the incessant use of the phrase "In a word" - and with some thoughts on why Chinglish matters. (More on just why Chinglish is such a serious problem here.)

25) Possible outcomes - 8th March 2009
My 'Sunday poem' offering, Wilfred Owen's The Chances, leads me into some pessimistic musing on the potential long-term impacts of the global financial crisis.

26) Money to burn - 9th March 2009
My innovative get-rich-quick idea for a new kind of 'gentlemen's club' in China.

27) Chinese compliments, Chinese tact - 11th March 2009
The Chinese will tell you very bluntly that you look old or fat. Do they somehow mean it in a nice way??

28) Miscommunication - 11th March 2009
Some years ago, I was trying to meet a glamorous French lady on Tiananmen Square for a date. It did not go well. But I learned a new word... (Do you know what a migdonal is??)

29) How to be a fenqing - 12th March 2009
The post that made me briefly famous, infamous, on the Chinese Internet (and further afield): an account of the 'angry young men' who fill up comment-threads with bile and scorn if they feel that someone has been dissing China. (Followed the next day by this companion piece on How to be a fenwai, an angry foreign blogger who taunts fenqing.)

30) List of the Month - 10 things China excels at - 14th March 2009
A classic fenwai post, mocking a number of the less impressive aspects of Chinese 'culture' and history.

31) Manifesto - 16th March 2009
I try to discourage the fenqing hordes from flocking to my blog by outlining what the blog's about (a lot of things - but mostly not China, and not politics).

32) Washing day in the hutongs - 16th March 2009
One of my favourite street-scene photographs ushers in a Photo Week.

33) Metaphor of the Month - 26th March 2009
My ultimate response to a young Chinese antagonist who took rather violent exception to my criticizing the Chinese writing system.

34) Not exactly a Daily Llama - 27th March 2009
Not just a routine picture post in my frivolous 'Daily Llama' series, but an introduction to Chinese online obscenity - and in particular to the recent Internet craze of the 'Grass Mud Horse'.

35) Is this a holiday?? - 28th March 2009
The inaugural 'Serf Liberation Day' in Tibet gives me an ideal pretext for some more fenqing goading (although in fact the comment-thread on this one got quite interesting).

I like some Chinese cinema very much; but I find it a struggle to come up with 10 recommendations, and a good many of them are a decade or more old. Chinese cinema in the Noughties has been mostly a bit disappointing...

37) Because of his or her great wings - 29th March 2009
I come across a marvellous poem of Baudelaire's, Albatross, (and a particularly fine English translation of it, by Richard Howard) - and dedicate it to my friend The Poet.


stuart said...

Not really the place, but I did check The Barstool first for a match report on the big pub quiz a few nights ago.

Jeremiah let slip on his blog (about the great '1911' incident) that you emerged triumphant. Clearly, modesty got the better of you in not mentioning the fact. But now you've been 'outed' as a quizmeister extraordinary, care to talk us through the road to victory?

Froog said...

Modesty forbids.

And it was, to be frank, a rather unsatisfying victory. I was a bit below my best (having a month off booze; and I really can't remember stuff I learned while drunk - i.e., pretty much everything I've ever learned from a pub quiz - when I'm not drunk), but everyone else was even further below their expected form. I'd dragged along a clique of translator types - the Amilal bohemians - who can usually relied upon to give me a pretty stern test; but they just weren't on their game last night, any of them.

I need to find a 'worthy opponent' from somewhere, because it's going to get a little boring - for me as well as for everyone else - if I win it every month. (Also, because I'm such good mates with the laoban, I'm likely to invite suspicion of some kind of collusion. Unfounded, I assure you.)

I'm thinking I might sit out the next one. Or give myself a 10-point handicap, or something.

stuart said...

I'd go with 'sit the next one out', or become master of ceremonies for a change.

What did you win, btw? Let me guess, first prize was a ticket to the Beijing Opera. Second prize was two tickets to the Beijing Opera.

The old ones are the best!

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