Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Chinese Girl's Heart: Tread Softly

Of course this title is misleading. There are tons of Chinese girls that are as much players as the guys and break hearts without a second thought. However, at least in my experience, most Chinese girls are very affectionate and are eager, sometimes too eager, to give their love to any man that is sweet and kind to them, especially when they are young.

For the majority of Chinese girls, there is no such thing as a casual relationship. A Chinese girl usually interprets any intimate behavior, such as gifts, romantic messages, sex, etc., as indications of long-term relationship potential, and the fact of the matter is that most Chinese girls are looking for a man to take care of them and they are quick to latch on to such possibilities. I don't mean this in a condescending or diminutive way; I'm just stating my observations after years of field research :-). Chinese girls are extremely affectionate and usually very loyal, because their man is providing them with stability and security. In return she gives her affection, her body, and her fidelity. Whether this is "love" is another discussion, but it is this "emotional transaction" that leads to so many broken hearts among Chinese girls.

Everyone has fanciful illusions of fairy tale love stories but of course reality is a harsh teacher. A man can throw out words and money and attention willy-nilly but a girl's affection is her precious possession, and when it is tossed aside after being used up, it can be devastating. Chinese girls are very naive about love and romance, in spite of it being largely absent from Chinese culture. Yet a heart is a heart, and love is an incredible treasure, and when it is placed in the hands of someone who recognizes just how special it is, that heart will sing. But the sad truth is, far too many hearts grow cold and dim as the beautiful dream withers and dies, leaving a life that is biologically satisfied but lacking any real purpose.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your tattoo will be ready in a minute, dearie

Here's a picture of my current ink artist. In the West, the typical tattooist is a burly dude (or dudette) and is usually covered in tattoos themselves. Here in China, nearly all my ink has been done by matronly middle-aged women that look like they would be friends with my mother. And they usually have little to no ink themselves, but they get the job done. Honestly now, I feel more comfortable going under the needle with one of these ladies than a younger guy or girl.

The Matriarch

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

O'Reilly: The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

AP- Famed comedian Bill O'Reilly of the satirical news channel FOX News stunned his legions of loyal viewers by commending Chinese mobs on their vehement protests of France and the French enterprises such as Carrefour that have invaded their country. O'Reilly has long been a vocal opponent of China's Communist party and government strategies but today O'Reilly revealed that he is willing to bury the hatemongering hatchet in pursuit of a common enemy: France.

O'Reilly has been rabidly anti-French for most of the 21st century. He became particularly incensed when the French opposed America's mission to liberate Iraq from Hussein's tyrannical regime and promptly called for a "boycott of France." O'Reilly encouraged his viewers to abstain from anything French or French-related to express contempt for what he felt was a country of lazy, ineffectual pseudo-intellectuals who would rather analyze a situation ad nauseum than actually get off their asses and do something about it. Now China and O'Reilly have joined forces, and though the truce between the two powerhouses may be tenuous, representatives for both sides expressed confidence that together, they can grind the French scourge into the dust of history.

As of press time, there was no word yet as to whether O'Reilly would be traveling to China to hoist his own protest sign among the masses assembled outside Chinese Carrefour supermarkets, though he did encourage all Americans to boycott their own local Carrefour markets, which may actually be displaying signs reading "Wal-Mart" in an attempt to escape protests.

-The Associated Prezz

Saturday, April 19, 2008

She's Got Le-egs!

ZZ Top? Anyone? Ok anyway, let's hear it for summertime in China. Most Chinese girls are attractive, a large number are pretty, and a decent amount are beautiful, and they all know it and ain't afraid to show it. So when the temp goes up, so do the hemlines, and us dudes are happy campers.

Today I went with a girl to get a tattoo for her (that I designed :-) and she was wearing a white fluttery smock/dress, gleaming white heels, and the most neon pink hose I've ever seen. But thanks to Chinese genes, she has uber-lovely legs so it's all good. I'm amazed at what Chinese girls can wear and still look incredible. When was the last time you saw a frumpy girl on the street in China? Exactly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Guns good for China?

This week we were doing mock press conferences in English class, where students would be assigned controversial industries to defend and would have to be spokespeople for that industry while their classmates, the "reporters," would merciless grill them on this or that detrimental element of their industry. The classes are a riot to see students get fired up about issues they've never considered before and it's fun to watch the spokespeople squirm and manufacture the craziest answers to uncomfortable questions.

Since the details of a press conference weren't too clear to most of them, I volunteered myself to be an example of a spokesperson and I would take questions from the "reporters." I assumed the role as a gun lobbyist in China to persuade the government to allow the unrestricted manufacture and distribution of guns in China. At first the students were all over me- "Won't the crime rate increase?" "What about children who find their parent's gun and accidentally shoot their playmate?" "Won't China become more dangerous?"

Now having lived in America most of my life, the gun issue is nothing new and I know all the pre-packaged soundbites- "We encourage our customers to keep their guns unloaded and in a safe place in the house." "If the children are old enough to know how to use a gun, they are old enough to learn that they aren't toys." "If only criminals have guns, then yes, China will become more dangerous. But we plan to make our guns available to everyone. If the thief knows that someone in the house may have a gun, he will hesitate to rob that house. If everyone has a gun, everyone can protect themselves, so the criminals will think twice before attacking someone." The old J. Caesar approach- if you want peace, prepare for war.

And you know what? I inadvertently persuaded many of them. By the end of our press conference, they were nodding in agreement as I countered their classmates' arguments. I'm not anti-gun but my family doesn't own guns and I would rather nobody have guns than everybody have guns. I just never knew how convincing these canned answers can really be.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You won't be seeing these guys on tour with S.H.E.

Never thought I'd see these words used together: Chinese black doom metal. I know China is hiding plenty of heavy metal bands in underground clubs but I haven't been able to hear what they sound like, since I don't live in Beijing and this seems to be where most Chinese metal is. But thanks to our precariously unblocked YouTube, we can enjoy the furious sounds of an unharmonious society. Check it out:

Disaster Falchion- plodding doom metal with blackened vocals. Nothing spectacular, just nice to see this genre being explored.

Maul Heavily- imagine a Chinese version of KoRn, though a bit more aggressive, and throw in some traditional flutes. Well done if you ask me.

Evil Thorn- the Chinese Dimmu Borgir. They're rocking the corpse paint and spike armbands. Raw black metal usually sucks and this is no exception, but just seeing this in China makes me chuckle.

YouTube has a bunch of other Chinese metal videos- check 'em out if you're interested. If anyone has any recommendations on good Chinese metal bands and where they're hiding, let me know.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chinese Anonymous

I was walking with a student a couple years ago, and as usually happens to foreigners in China, especially in schools, students were constantly blurting out "Hello!" "Oh so cool!" "What's your name?"

Of course these words are thrown out just to impress their peers that they're brave enough to talk at (not to) the foreigner, but the student said something interesting. Now she was a very pretty girl but not beautiful enough to stand out among the crowd. She said with a small smile, "Everybody notices you when you go out."

I shrugged and agreed. "That's the way it is for foreigners in China."

The girl sighed and gazed into the distance. "I wish people would notice me...," she said quietly.

I never forgot those words. It's tough to stand out in the world's largest population and most homogenous society.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where's the beef? And mutton?

I live in a city in a fairly rural province and I've seen plenty of farms (which sadly lack the quaint charm of Western countrysides. It's funny: in America the cities are pits but the farms are lovely, and in China the farms are full of rubbish and most cities sparkle, at least at a quick glance). Anyway, I love beef dishes and I'm especially fond of the Muslim mutton barbecue, but I have never seen a beef or dairy cow, or a sheep, in a Chinese farm. I've seen plenty of pigs and chickens and oxen for pulling the plows, and I've seen sheep in local zoos, but never on a farm. Where does all the beef and mutton meat come from?

One more thing: has anyone had real homogenized, pasteurized, vitamin D milk in China?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Anti-CNN.com fever sparks copycats

AP- In the wake of recent news reports by Western media outlets covering the Tibetan riots and subsequent Chinese military crackdown, many Chinese citizens are expressing outrage over what they feel is "Western media bias" against China. Many citizens with online access, or "netizens," have started online petitions and even created websites aimed at exposing errors or manipulations in Western news reports.

One such site that gained quick notoriety is anti-CNN.com. On this site, Chinese netizens can vent frustration on forums, but can also give their own perspective on the turmoil in Tibet and offer evidence to counter Western news reports, complete with unaltered photographs and first-hand accounts.

One historical element of Chinese culture is the immediate and wanton duplication of a successful formula. Following the hype and popularity of anti-CNN.com, Chinese netizens have created dozens of other sites targeting specific Western media outlets, even going so far as to condemn satirical news programs, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, The Late Edition, and FOX News. Subsequent to the airing of an offensive but entirely light-hearted segment about the Chinese crackdown on the riots, anti-thedailyshowwithjonstewart.com received 40,00 angry posts in two hours and more than 2,000 photos were posted online to counter Jon Stewart's assertion that the Chinese military were suspected of disguising themselves as marijuana-smoking European backpackers so that they could blend in more easily with the rioters.

Most Chinese netizens fail to realize that the anti-Chinese rhetoric of commentators such as Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly is entirely farcical and should never be taken at face value. However, this simple fact has escaped even many Western netizens, with an anti-thecolbertreport.com petition receiving 25,000 signatures from angry conservative housewives complaining that a respected anchor like Stephen Colbert should not use offensive language when reporting on the news.

Among the numerous anchors attacked by China's online community, only Jon Stewart was available for comment: "They get Comedy Central in China?"

-The Associated Prezz

A frail blossom among the ashes

Well I noticed Blogspot is unblocked again, so I figured I'd jump back on the bronco and ride it until it bucks me off again (holy homoerotic innuendo Batman!).

It's been an interesting winter for everyone. I suppose the biggest post-snowstorm news is that Megan and I are no longer together. Our relationship lasted for almost two years, and we are still friends, but we both realized that things weren't the same with us and it would be better to go apart than to try and make it work. There wasn't any big fight, no anger or bitterness; just a realization that things had run its course. I suppose I initiated it- honestly, I wasn't feeling satisfied with our relationship. The physical and spiritual elements were satisfying but I felt something was missing. I realized that it was a cultural difference in the way we both perceived a healthy relationship.

For Chinese girls, especially those from rural areas or small cities, the ideal mate is a strong, competent, well-respected man that can take care of her and provide her with a stable future. In return, she gives him her body, her affection, and her loyalty, and this is their definition of true love. Of course it's easy for a man, especially a prosperous foreigner, to take advantage of girls in this way but that's beside the point. As far as these things went, this is what I was for Megan and she was completely happy with us. I, on the other hand, was becoming tired of a relationship where I was more of a father figure than a partner. I didn't want to care for somebody as much as I wanted to share life with somebody. When I expressed this to her, it really shook her belief in our love, and even though I wanted to still give us a try, I was just wanting to spare her feeling since I knew it would end sooner or later. Fortunately, she took the initiative and suggested that we break, and even though it hurt both of us, we knew this was best.

Of course, with endings come beginnings, and the future is wide open for both of us. It can be a bit jarring to be suddenly adrift after being tethered to someone for two years, but it's freeing and exciting in a way. I can go wherever I want, do whatever I want, and have only myself to look out for. This was a big reason why I came to China in the first place and now I'm more free to explore the possibilities. That's not to say I'm not still saddened sometimes. I got some ink on my upper right forearm to memorialize our relationship. I had always told Megan that if we ever got married, I would inscribe her Chinese name in that place on my arm, but now that that's not going to happen, I decided to cover it so that no girl could ever have that spot. I got a tribal scorpion inside of a sun, since my zodiac sign is Scorpio and I like what the scorpion represents in various cultures. Of course there's some room on my lower arm but that place will always belong to Megan. I'll put up some pictures once it heals (how metaphorical).

I'm looking to change locations for next school year. I had originally planned to teach around the Shanghai area to be close to Megan since that was where she was working, but this had not been my ideal preference. I had always loved Fujian province so now I'm pursuing my Chinese-life-long dream of living by the ocean. Any homies from Zhangzhou? It's looking pretty promising. Holla if you hear me.

So onward and upward to new things. It's kinda nice being single again, and I'm sure I'll find someone that captures my heart again. This is China, after all :-). I find Chinese girls more physically attractive than Western girls, and hot bodies and cute faces are a dime a dozen here, but the trick is finding someone whose personality and spirit captivates me as much as her figure does. One good thing about being near the ocean is you get a pretty good look at captivating figures :-P. Till then, I'm just doin' my thing, rockin' the block, making people smile. Tomorrow the sun will rise...who knows what the tide will bring?