scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Words: Gurning, Brinjaul, Noshery

gurning

noshery

brinjaul / brinjal

posted by ferret at 9:47 pm  

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

(Un)Planned Events

Event #1 – 红包 (Hongbao, i.e. a red envelope full of money):

Ferret
So it was pretty cool how I got to go to a party for work today.

Roo
Oh yeah, what was it?

Ferret
This crazy juggling competition.

Roo
Wow. It was good?

Ferret
Real good. Best part was that they paid me to go. Check it out.

[Shows Roo.]

Roo
Wow. Who gave you money?

Ferret
The people at the event. They said they’d pay me to be there. Gave it to me in this red envelope and everything.

Roo
Ferret, that’s like bribe.

Ferret
No way. I didn’t promise them anything. They said they’d pay me to come, so I did.

Roo
No, that’s how it works, you know? They think you will write about them.

Ferret
No way.

Event #2: 红包回来 (Hongbao Returns)

Ferret
[on phone]
Yes, I spoke to Oldengib… No, there’s no way I can write about it. I’m sorry.

Oldengib
What’s going on? Who keeps calling you?

Ferret
Well, this girl from the juggling contest keeps calling me to ask me if I can put something in the magazine.

Oldengib
The one you went to last week.

Ferret
Yeah, it was cool. They paid me money to go. Gave it to me in this red envelope.

Oldengib
Oh, I see. You shouldn’t have done that. That’s the sneaky way they do it here.

Ferret
Do what?

Oldengib
Give you a bribe.

Ferret
Oh.

Oldengib
It’s all right. You didn’t know. In the future, just remember if someone offers to pay you to come, or slips money in your press packet, don’t take it. If we do, then we get calls like this, and get wrapped up in the custom of bribing journalists that they have here.

Ferret
Oh.

Event #3: 萄皮男孩子 (A Naughty Boy)

Ferret sits in a cab on his way to watch people pour vodka in new and improved ways. The cab is stuck in traffic, and he feels both tired and frustrated. He’s not sure it’s possible for anyone to pour vodka in a new or improved way, and even if they could, he thinks it would probably be entirely convoluted in its execution, Rube Goldberg style, or would produce a drink that was so revolting that even the fact it was free would do little to help its reputation. It’s been a long day, and the Shanghai craze is getting to him. They are almost at his destination down on the Bund, and the street is packed not only with cars, but scooters, bicycles, men with push carts stacked to at least 3m, and small children weaving in and out of the mess. Seemingly unable to withstand the hubbub, the window next to Ferret shatters.

The cabdriver immediately scrambles out of the cab and runs away. Ferret doesn’t know what to do. The driver has left his door open, but that has not prevented cars behind the car from doing their best to edge by. He looks to the sidewalk and sees that his taxi driver has apprehended the cause of the shattering. A little boy about 8 years old with a slingshot. His mother is there now, and she’s got a look on her face that says, “It’s time to pay.”

The driver scrambles back, and settles the bill with Ferret. He walks to the event thinking that today couldn’t get anymore surreal than the Chinese reincarnation of Dennis the Menace.

Event #4: Things Get More Surreal than a Chinese Dennis the Menace


Apparently, this is how you sell vodka.

posted by ferret at 4:43 am  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Snubbing the Chinese Police?

“SECURITY has been tightened further on Metro lines ahead of the Olympic football matches to be held at Shanghai Stadium.

Four X-ray machines, eight detectors of toxic chemicals and four machines to screen for explosives will check passengers near the two Olympic venues, Dai Min, director of Shanghai Metro Police, said yesterday.

“Each large bag is being examined and smaller bags will be inspected at random,” Dai said…”

- “Metro tightens bag screening to secure safety at Olympics,” Shanghai Daily, 2008-07-29

Ferret
I think I might have snubbed the Shanghai police.

Roo
Really?

Ferret
Yeah, I walked into this metro station, and I saw this security guard standing next to a table. It was a little strange so I looked at it rather oddly. The security guard noticed I was looking, smiled really big, and proudly proclaimed “Security Check Here!” I had no idea if he wanted me to show him what was in my bag, or if he was just damn proud of his security checkpoint/table. Given his tone, it seemed to be the latter. However, I’ve never had anyone in my life say something to me like that. Not knowing what to do I just smiled, and slowly walked through the turnstile into the subway as if nothing had happened. I really hope I didn’t ruin his day, or piss him off.

Roo
Maybe the police will arrest you now.

Ferret
Man, I hope not.

posted by ferret at 8:26 am  

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cheers for China!

A cartoon issued to provide extra guidance on top of the “Olympic cheering practice” sessions that have been held for workers around Beijing for the last year shows a young girl in the approved postures. [...] The cartoon is the joint product of the Communist Party’s spiritual civilisation bureau, the ministry of education, the Beijing Olympics organising committee, and state television, which has begun showing clips of schoolchildren showing how it is done.

- “Beijing Unveils Official Olympic Games Cheers,” The Telegraph, June 06, 2008

[Spirit Chief, Education Minister, Olympic Organizer, and State TV Man are all sitting at a conference table at a government office in Beijing. They are standing, involved in a shouting match, unable to restrain themselves, as they point fingers and dramatically arch their voices. The Education Minister slams his hands down on the table, and seizing attention for a moment, speaks:]

Education Minister
Come on people, this is bullshit. The people of China are depending on us to make a cheer that will unite them. This is for the children.

State TV Man
Oh, look at you now, Mr. Education, bringing in the children. All of sudden you just want to resolve the issue, when I put my goddamn neck out on the line to get two claps instead of one! I was so ready to go for one clap! 加油!加油!(Go go! Go go!) Straight ahead, easy for anyone to do. A good fist pump or two. That’s all we need.

Spirit Chief
Gentlemen, please! Let’s be civil!! [They all sit down.] As for the one clap, you know there was no way we could do that. It’s just not in line with the spirit of China.

State TV Man
Well, I’m sure that you are right given your post. The Chinese spirit is best represented with a chant that goes well with “We Will Rock You.”

Olympic Organizer
Wow! That’s true! Queen really were a great band, weren’t they? I can remember when I was an exchange student at UC-Berkeley, we’d always play that.

Education Chief
Oh, definitely. Freddie Mercury was truly a genius.

Spirit Chief
Freddie Mercury?

Education Chief
Surely you know who Freddie Mercury is?

Spirit Chief
Surely I do. It was just a matter of recollection.

State TV Man
Yes, it must be difficult to remember things about pop culture while you are busy assuring that only the best cultural artifacts are not destroyed.

Spirit Chief
Well, I must admit that “We will rock the Queen” or whatever isn’t important. This is about China. The two claps are supposed to represent that unity of Chi–

State TV Man
China and the world. The yin and the yang. The dual nature of our lives. The majestic power of the Chinese people among the world powers like the peaks of Huangshan mountain. Your erudite explanation was well understood the first time.

Spirit Chief
Are you insinuating something?

State TV Man
Nothing.

Spirit Chief
Don’t forget who you are talking to here. You are perhaps too overzealous in your enthusiasm.

State TV Man
I’ll never forget. I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.

Olympic Organizer
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family!

State TV Man and Olympic Organizer
Spare him his life from his monstrosity!!!

[State TV Man and Olympic Organizer give each other high fives and start laughing, then start doing the cheer with each other.]

Education Minister
This is seriously no laughing matter. We must deliberate on this seriously for the children.

Spirit Chief
I agree.

State TV Man
The children will be fine.

Education Minister
What’s that supposed to mean?

State TV Man
I think we should add a whoop at the end! [Does the cheer] Whoop!

Olympic Organizer
Whoop!

Spirit Chief
You two are clearly not qualified to handle so delicate a task.

State TV Man
But you are truly able to handle the necessary affairs of state with immense tact and skill. That’s why they put you in charge of looking after old teahouses.

Spirit Chief
And you as well. CCTV programming is truly the pinnacle achievement of Chinese culture. It makes the poets of the Tang Dynasty look like fools.

[The Spirit Chief and the State TV Man glare at each other.]

Olympic Organizer
Well, I think that you both do a good job. The cheer has turned out great too.

Spirit Chief
Thank you for your opinion. It was very helpful. Please go to your other meeting on licensing pens with the mascots on them.

State TV Man

I agree, your skills are so great they would be of greater benefit for producing Olympic teddy bears.

Education Minister
Will someone think of the children right now?

[They all glare at each other for a moment. They all stand and begin shouting.]

posted by ferret at 1:01 am  

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who Inspired the Shanghai Superbrand Mall?


posted by ferret at 9:12 am  

Friday, July 18, 2008

Drilling in Shanghai/Man at Work

I took the following picture today of this massive drill at work building a new subway station underneath Century Avenue in Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai. It’s unclear to me what the machine was doing, but it was only partially partitioned from public scrutiny, so were I do dare to go in for a closer inspection, there would be no problem.

Incidentally, I didn’t go in for a closer inspection. Well, that’s not entirely true. I got close enough to see that everything was in order, or at the very least, the guy running the thing wasn’t worried.


Maybe I should have been…

posted by ferret at 1:36 am  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Street in Shanghai

Roo
You see those people sleeping in the street?

Ferret
Yeah, they’re so many of them.

Roo
You know about them? They are so poor.

Ferret
Yeah, we have lots of homeless people in America, but not like this.

Roo
Oh, they’re not homeless people. They have a house.

Ferret
What?

Roo
Yeah! You didn’t know that?

Ferret
No.

Roo
Yeah, they are just so poor they have no air conditioning. They’ll sleep outside for coolness. They don’t care.

posted by ferret at 7:41 am  

Monday, July 14, 2008

开水 or Hot Water

I’ve been trying to find an answer as to why Chinese people always drink hot water, regarding cold water as bad for health. My results thusfar have been poor (except for the awesome picture of the Chinese kettle lady), but here they are nonetheless.

1) Yahoo Answers! gives you a range of answers from the daft to the commonsensical, although none of them seem particularly compelling.

The best sounding?

in chinese medicine, they believe that drinking cold water will drain your energy because your body will have to use energy to warm it up. Where if you drink water that is body temperature, there is no energy loss.

I believe that and I dont like cold water. I drink at room temp and if you give me real cold water it feels like a shock to the system. Its only when you drink cold water a lot that you prefer it.

My favorite?

Hot water is good for you. It helps wash the food down. Cold water is not good for you.

Brilliant!

2) EthnoMed.org has this to say in relation to Chinese women giving birth:

When asked for a drink of water, women were offered ice chips instead of warm water that they prefer. Most Chinese women will endure the thirst for fear the cold water from ice chip will upset their internal hot/cold balance and subsequently increase their risk of developing arthritis in old age.

3) Jim Conrad’s Musings On Water and Chinese etymology make a nice, yet admittedly impressionistic connection between water and the Chinese psyche.

4) This Breaking News suggests that hot water prevents heart attacks, but also sounds as if it were written by a seventh grader. (Note first sentence proclaiming, “This is a very good article.”)

5) The best part to this small epiphany is framed by the blogger’s description of himself: “With a keen eye and a penetrating mind I bring to you collections of my random thoughts that I believe are so clever and original that you might have thought them yourself and hence relate to this blog.” (italics mine)

6) Perhaps the best source I’ve found (I think in part to my still developing Chinese), is this article from the Gansu Daily where I found Miss Teakettle. As far as I can tell, the article has something to do with drinking water only once after it’s boiled, and not reusing it again or later due to the possibility of contamination. It begins:

大家都知道日常生活中多喝开水有益健康,可水怎么烧,开水怎么喝,还有不少讲究。

As best as I can translate: “Everybody knows in their everyday lives how drinking hot water is good for your health, but how should you boil it? How should you drink it? There are many things to be concerned about.”

It’s the first part of that sentence. “Everybody knows.”

For the time being, I’m willing to keep on thinking that this connection between health and drinking hot water, like most conventions, is a matter of everyone accepting it’s true.

“Everybody knows.” Of course, they do.

posted by ferret at 7:44 am  

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Dillemma of Nonsensical Proportions

Bu-Ran-Don
So if you could give it all up for the powers of Wolverine, would you do it?

Ferret
Define your terms.

Bu-Ran-Don
You get the skeleton of adamantium, the claws, the superhealing and the superhuman senses of smell.

Ferret
And what do I give up?

Bu-Ran-Don
You give up sex.

Ferret
In general? Do BJs count?

Bu-Ran-Don
For the sake of argument, no. Let’s say that BJs are okay.

Ferret
I don’t know. That’s still pretty tough.

Bu-Ran-Don
What’s so tough about it? You get to be Wolverine man! You can totally rock anybody. And even if they rock you, you’ll be fine. I mean, would you seriously miss it all that much?

Ferret
I think so. I mean, I don’t know. His powers aren’t that great.

Bu-Ran-Don
I disagree. Don’t forget you get an extended lifespan because of your superhuman healing powers. You get to live for millennia.

Ferret
I think living forever is over-rated. All your friends and lovers die. Everyone thinks you’re a freak. You’ve got to live low-pro.

Bu-Ran-Don
But you get superhuman demi-god like adversaries with which to battle for all of time.

Ferret
Meh, I’m still not sure. I’m denied the ability to form meaningful relationships with others except for random megalomaniacs. I relegate myself to leading a seemingly endless life of constant derision and scorn.

Bu-Ran-Don
Don’t be a fag, Ferret. This is an awesome opportunity.

Ferret
I’m still torn. Let me think about it…

posted by ferret at 10:25 pm  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crowds Outside My Window


Roo
Why did he take this highway? I don’t understand.

Ferret
It’s faster this late at night.

Roo
Not now, we are in traffic jam. It’s one in the morning.

Ferret
I know, but usually it’s faster, besides we’re at the next exit. We’ll get off soon, you’ll see. It’ll go fast.

Roo
This takes forever.

[They pause for a moment.]

Ferret
You know how my place is right next to this big tunnel where people are always getting into accidents?

Roo
Yes, I know.

Ferret
Why do they always get into these big crowds and just watch? I don’t understand.

Roo
Well, don’t you do that? I mean, come on, if you see something then you know…

Ferret
I mean sometimes I do, but it’s never a form of entertainment. If no one’s hurt, then what can I do? Why would I just want to stop and stare? Although in America they always talk about people rubbernecking, you know?

Roo
Rubberneck?

Ferret
Yeah, it’s a person who slows down when they’re driving to see the accident.

Roo
So it’s same, just like America. You both stop to look.

Ferret
I guess. Except no cars. It never felt like I was taking up so much time though. Maybe I’m just used to be in cars, and not on foot.

Roo
When is traffic jam going to end? 司机! (driver!)

posted by ferret at 4:28 am  
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