Gosh, early summer last year seems to have been a particularly productive period for me. I'll have to split this selection into two in order to keep things to a manageable size.
Pick of the Archive:
Favourite posts, April-June 2009 (Part 1)
1) More chuckles in the studio - April 8th 2009
Yet another example of one of the risible scripts I am often asked to read for Chinese English-teaching audiotapes prompts a little rant about the habitual Chinese ineptitude with foreign names (rather different, but equally hilarious, examples here and here).
2) Who on earth is Katrina Grinsley? - April 8th 2009
A name randomly encountered on the Internet - but I find it rather striking, and fantasise a character for it.
3) Dao-le! - April 10th 2009
Some more thoughts on Beijing taxi drivers (including my buddy Big Frank's suggestion that the qualifying test for the cabbie's licence should be nicknamed The Ignorance).
4) The ming pian game - April 11th 2009
12 more things I might have printed on my next set of business cards.
A great line from Kurt Vonnegut inspires a sour observation of my own on the state of modern China.
6) Just the facts, ma'am - April 15th 2009
An hilarious - but disturbing - anecdote about the difficulties encountered by artist/activist Ai Weiwei and his team of young researchers in attempting to compile a comprehensive list of the schoolchildren victims of the previous year's Wenchuan earthquake.
7) Apologies for obscurity - April 16th 2009
More amusing literary odds & ends, offered in 'explanation' of some enigmatic post titles I'd used recently.
8) The weekly haiku - April 17th 2009
One of my best, I think - on the topic of lost love. One lost love in particular, the most recent; she also inspired this poem.
9) Snapshots from the countryside - April 17th 2009
A recent weekend away in Huairou allowed me to indulge my penchant for the abstract in photography. (A pity my digital camera is so SHITE!)
10) China and me (memories of my first encounter) - April 18th 2009
I commemorate the 15th anniversary of my first visit to this country with an extended reminiscence.
11) Who stopped the rain? - April 22nd 2009
I speculate on the possible causes of the ongoing severe drought in north China and Beijing. Not unrelated to all the weather-manipulation shenanigans and rampant over-watering of the capital during the Olympics the year before, I suspect.
12) "Ma Lin says hello" - April 22nd 2009
The favourite of my 'Olympic' stories: the 'conspiracy theory' behind an unfortunate accident that befell my best friend during the Olympic summer.
13) Cartoon - April 23rd 2009
My idea for a visual joke with a Chinese reference. It's such a shame I can't draw well.
14) 6 favourite cinema experiences - April 25th 2009
In a lifetime of passionate cinema-going, these are the six theatres which have left the most lasting impression on me.
15) Great lines not to use - April 30th 2009
A couple of thigh-slappingly hilarious bits of 'love talk' from a charming North Korean romantic comedy I saw recently.
16) Conspiracy theory - May 1st 2009
My buddies and I wonder if there may be a sinister, ulterior motive behind the gradual purging of the foreign population from Beijing in the summer leading up to the country's 60th anniversary celebrations. (Well, of course, it turned out that there wasn't. But our idea didn't seem so far-fetched back then.)
17) How to make Chinese friends - May 2nd 2009
This provocative article on the CN Reviews blog about whether foreigners in China make enough effort to socialise with Chinese people leads to some extended self-reflection. I'm long overdue for a return to this topic; there's a lot to say about it.
18) A happier kind of anniversary - May 6th 2009
I encounter an upbeat personal reminiscence related to the June 4th crackdown in Beijing. Even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on.
19) It's not just the Chinese... - May 7th 2009
... who invent bizarre new words or conjure inspired misspellings. I am reminded of a couple of favourite examples from my days teaching back in England.
20) Delivery - May 9th 2009
Amongst the reasons why I would never eat fish in this country...
21) The feeling of Sunday afternoons - May 10th 2009
A nostalgic weekend reverie leads me to post two favourite poems about the emotional resonance of music, by D.H. Lawrence and Edwin Muir. (Don't omit to check out the comments as well for some favourite film trivia quibbles.)
22) The Gender Divide - May 13th 2009
Some very funny - but rather discomfiting - pictures from a children's book striving to perpetuate crude gender stereotyping in the early 1970s.