Gosh, I've got a little behind in these 'best of the blog' roundups. I usually try to do them for just over a year ago, but I find I'm nearly 18 months down, so I'll have to do two in quick succession to get back on track. Whoops.
Pick of the Archives:
Favourite Posts, October-December 2010
1) Twitter is for twits - 1st October 2010
I find an amusing Venn diagram illustrating the 'appeal' of Twitter, Facebook, et al.
2) There's 'good' and then there's... - 2nd October 2010
Some recent grandstanding by snooker wizard Ronnie O'Sullivan sets me off on a nostalgic trawl through YouTube postings of a 'hero' of my youth, the wild Irishman Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, probably the most prodigious - but erratic - talent the game has ever seen.
3) Grand Prix - 6th October 2010
An extended review of John Frankenheimer's excellent 1960s motor racing drama. Unfortunately, the embedded clip of the Belgian Grand Prix (with much longer and better in-car shots than we see in today's TV coverage of the sport!) has now been removed from YouTube, and I haven't yet been able to find a replacement.
4) Training the property developers of tomorrow - 7th October 2010
I see the recent appearance of Chinese versions of Monopoly as a key moment in the progress of the capitalist ethos here.
5) The art of the lie-in... - 8th October 2010
A brilliant stop-motion video for the song Her Morning Elegance by Israeli singer-songwriter Oren Lavie, featuring a breathtakingly beautiful model called Shir Shomron.
6) My advice to the Chinese government - 9th October 2010
An exercise in wishful thinking: how I would have liked the authorities here to respond to Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize win. (More on that here and here and here and here and here and here and here.)
7) The simplest advice - 16th October 2010
A Mad TV sketch in which the great Bob Newhart plays the world's most down-to-earth therapist.
8) Across The Universe - 17th October 2010
A slightly belated 70th birthday tribute to John Lennon: three contrasting versions of my favourite of his songs. (I think I like Fiona Apple's, from the soundtrack to the film Pleasantville, best.)
9) A blast from the past - my first ever fantasy girlfriend? - 23rd October 2010
One of the first and most serious of my childhood crushes, an impossibly pretty model called Joanne Latham.
10) Where have all the zingers gone? - 26th October 2010
My blog-pal JES initiates a reflection on whether contemporary cinema is producing fewer quotable lines, and prompts me to post some YouTube roundups of some of the most memorable quotes in film history. (A little later, I posted a quiz on some of my favourites.)
11) Little obfuscations - 4th November 2010
A failure to obtain some concert tickets (for Cesária Évora) leads me to some bitter ruminations on the interaction between language and culture.
12) List of the Month: What people come here for - 6th November 2010
Google Analytics reveals my 10 'most popular' posts. It is a tad depressing. I stop using Google Analytics shortly thereafter.
13) Taking leave of my census - 9th November 2010
I continue to rage against the pointlessness and ineptitude of China's latest national census (the results of which must have been largely fabricated, since almost no-one I know - either Chinese or foreign - bothered to answer their door to the feeble knocks of the census takers).
14) 'Little Emperors', little thugs - 11th November 2010
Violence begets violence: I am tempted to think that the large number of child psychopaths in this country today may be partly a legacy of the traumas of the Cultural Revolution forty-odd years ago (a thesis which provoked an unusually thoughtful and diverse comment thread).
15) Remembrance - 14th November 2010
On Remembrance Sunday it seemed inescapably appropriate to post the closing sequence of Richard Attenborough's Oh! What A Lovely War. (YouTube user OhWhataLovelyWar seems to have posted the whole film in sections, or all the musical numbers from it, anyway.)
16) My Fantasy Girlfriend: Margo Timmins - 20th November 2010
I had a crush on the voice of the Cowboy Junkies' singer long before I discovered that she also looks rather ravishing and is an intelligent and charming personality. My appreciation of the lovely lady concludes with a video of the Junkies performing their Blue Moon Revisited, from the classic Trinity Session album.
17) Dying in harness - 28th November 2010
Some reflections on the pros and cons of being a schoolteacher, a career that I am - on the whole - relieved to have escaped from.
18) Where do you think you are? - 30th November 2010
Another memorable customer service experience in China...
19) Trajectory - 3rd December 2010
A humorous study of the life-cycle of the typical Beijing bar (a reprint of one of my favourite ever posts from my 'drinking blog', Barstool Blues).
20) A little bit of Zen - 5th December 2010
A charming stop-motion animation by Polish art student Alicja Cioch, illustrating a short prose poem by the Czech fabulist Karel Čapek, How To Grow Clouds.
21) Casual insolence - 9th December 2010
Another entry in my 'War on Chinglish' series, bemoaning the strange fact that the Chinese are invariably unable to use Western names appropriately (despite the fact that this really ought to be just about Lesson 1 in their English studies).
22) Today is a good day (for a relationship) to die - 13th December 2010
A study on the Information Is Beautiful website seems to show that the second or third Monday of December is the peak day in the whole year for breakups. Curious!
23) A Classical Sunday - 19th December 2010
I flaunt my Classical education by composing a short poem inspired by a famous moment in Xenophon's Anabasis.
24) Stand By Me - 29th December 2010
A major bust-up with one of my employers leads me into some dejected generalisations on how unhelpful the female of the species can be in conflict situations. However, I find some consolation in a video of a great version of the Ben E. King hit Stand By Me, performed by street musicians around the world as part of the Playing For Change project.