I've fallen a little behind schedule again on these roundups of last year's highlights. I usually aim to get them out only 12 months or so after the end of the period covered, but it's now over 14 months on - oh dear.
Pick of the Archives:
Favourite Posts, July-September 2010
1) Jumpers for goalposts - 3rd July 2010
The approaching climax of the World Cup makes me nostalgic for my '70s childhood spent watching football on the BBC; and comedy genius Paul Whitehouse perfectly captures that feeling with his 'Ron Manager' character.
2) What's in a (footballer's) name? - 9th July 2010
Some amusing names among the Chilean players in the World Cup remind me of a couple of crude accidental puns that have cropped up in the field of sports commentary.
3) If I ruled the world... - 11th July 2010
And, of course, I had to greet the World Cup Final by picking my 'team of the tournament'.
4) My Fantasy Girlfriend - Daisy Sweetgrass - 17th July 2007
Daisy is the stage name and alter ego of a delightful singer-songwriter called Christine Laskowski, who lived in Beijing for a couple of years but has left us now. Elevating her to the ranks of my Fantasy Girlfriends provided an excuse to plug her website and the CD All That Glisters, just released by her bluegrass band The Redbucks.
5) Hip? - 23rd July 2007
In a very short post - primarily intended to plug a favourite website I'd just discovered, cartoonist Hugh McLeod's Gaping Void - I managed to ruminate on the distinction between 'hip' and 'cool', reminisce about The Fonz, and quote a favourite line from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
6) Between the lines - 24th July 2010
An impassioned post about the unlawful detention of my artist friend, Wu Yuren. (He was finally released on 2nd April this year, after 10 months in prison.)
7) Makeover - 28th July 2010
Contemplating shaving my head, I reflect on the first time I did so, a dozen years earlier.
8) Proclaiming it 'a digging instrument' - 29th July 2010
My very negative review of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner leads me to wonder morosely what's becoming of literary taste in the modern world.
9) Another piece of Friday frivolity - 30th July 2010
A favourite in my occasional series of cartoon puns, most of them, like this one, raided from Viz magazine's repository of 'Crap Jokes'. (Two more great ones here and here!)
10) A China-inspired Sunday poem - 1st August 2010
Billy Collins shares my delight in the poets of the Tang and Song dynasties.
11) Democracy isn't everything - 7th August 2010
But it is a hell of a start! For my latest 'List of the Month', I consider some of the other elements of an advanced society that China is sadly lacking.
12) Beijing Taxi - 10th August 2010
My review of this documentary about taxi drivers leads to some broader musing on the shortcomings of Chinese documentary-making.
13) The Beijing I miss - 23rd August 2010
An afternoon's walk restores some of my enthusiasm for living in this city.
14) Who are you calling 'strange'? - 25th August 2010
I am amused to discover that some social psychologists have coined the acronym WEIRD to remind themselves how unrepresentative their typical experimental subjects are of the wider human race.
15) A memory fragment - 26th August 2010
A poignant recollection of the period of my thwarted infatuation with a lady I dubbed 'Madame X'.
16) Short Animation Festival - 28th August 2010
For my end-of-the-month Film List, I offer a selection of great animated shorts.
17) How not to do it, in Powerpoint - 1st September 2010
Some tips from a recent training session on giving presentations.
18) Elements of Englishness - 4th September 2010
Another offshoot of my business training work: an attempt to summarise the 'national character' of the people of the land of my birth.
19) Desert song - 5th September 2010
I have an uncannily vivid dream - apparently set in a futuristic version of Amman, Jordan. I wonder if this might be a 'cosmic hint' that I should consider moving there.
20) Things Word won't do for you - 6th September 2010
A suggestion for a new feature I would like to see added to Microsoft's Word program - to make it a bit more fun.
21) Don't underestimate the Daily Llama - 7th September 2010
Two funny pictures: a baby llama playing rugby.... and Jesus playing gridiron football!
22) A familiar story? - 11th September 2010
Another of my dream stories (a scene you might recognise).
- 12th September 2010
One of my longer and more thoughtful posts (provoked by a British Council lecture I attended, given by Dr Chris Hall, most of which I'd found myself rather violently in disagreement with; I had meant to return to another topic he touched on - 'Chinese English' - but haven't got around to it yet).
24) An e-commerce idea for China - 16th September 2010
How about a website where you can haggle over the price? Why has no-one done it yet??
25) My Fantasy Girlfriend - Rachel Manija Brown - 18th September 2010
This month's pick is a very amusing writer, who I discovered in a particularly serendipitous way.
26) The most important lesson of The Tank Man - 20th September 2010
A long gripe about this country's terrible driving standards, and the hazards of trying to cross the road.
27) You are old, Uncle Wang - 22nd September 2010
I have a particularly good Beijing taxi experience - with one of the city's most venerable drivers. This reminds me of my longstanding 'collecting box' post for examples of uncommonly low taxi driver registration numbers.
28) Strange foods - 24th September 2010
Another amusing picture post. Garlic-flavoured ice cream, anyone?
29) China snapshots - 28th September 2010
I happened to notice quite a lot of odd and quirky things (more than usual!) about my adopted homeland in the previous week or two.
30) Futility - 30th September 2010
I reminisce about my experience of playing the strategy game Risk, and in particular about the brutal 'Ontario Incident' - which very nearly ended one of my closest friendships.