Mid-week Chinglish!

Sorry folks, been busy lately. No Weekend Chinglish, no articles or biographical blogs, but feast your eyes on this to get you through the week:

 

I took this lovely pic at great risk in a swimming pool

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Historic Chinese Hamburg

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Try deciphering this~

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Lastly, just a random T-shirt. But the question remains, does this guy even know how METAL he is?!

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Dad is coming to visit me

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Me and Dad, in Florida 2014

 

This blog is a prelude of sorts. Not much in life to report as yet, but soon I hope to have some interesting autobiographical content to share.

Tomorrow I will go to the Hong Kong airport and pick up my dad. He will stay in South China for about ten days. His first time in the region. Finally, get to show off my expat life. He has no idea how epic it will be.

I saw him — as well as my mom and brother and sisters — last year in Florida at a family wedding. For me, about once a year is a good pace to meet family members.

We have a complicated relationship. Although I’m not very pleased with where I come from, at this age shouldn’t everything be fine? It’s not like I have some great trauma in my life to fret over. I’m simply not terribly proud of my mediocre background. Nevermind, moving on. Hopefully, in the near future, I can make something of my life to be proud of and get over that.

In truth, it’s rare to have visitors in China and I appreciate it. My sister came the second year I was here. My best friend visited the year after. That’s about it. If you know Americans and their typical lack of passports, it’s not easy to get them to fly across the world just to hang out. Wish more would.

 

My dad and I will be staying in Hong Kong the first few nights, planning to go to the Peak and the Star Walk and the Heritage Museum. Then we will cross over into Shenzhen, and I haven’t thought up all the details as yet. I often like to make it up as I go along with trips. Perhaps Dafeng art village and some crazy shopping markets. I do look forward to showing off the tremendous scale of mega-metropolitan modern China. We will also spend at least one day in nearby Guangzhou; I’m thinking of checking out the traditional buildings in Yuexiu park. Unfortunately no time for Beijing and the Great Wall & Forbidden Palace etc. Next trip I promise.

 

That would be the tentative plan. Gimme some time to blog more after the fact…

Biweekly Chinglish

Hello all you Chinglish lovers, sorry for the wait.

What would you say to a biweekly Chinglish, every-other-weekend…? Just thoughts

Note the T-shirts, sign I possibly posted before, beware of lost, and a guy who must absolutely love his job :/

 

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Please let me add something that didn’t work, but oh how funny it would be if it did.

I was walking down the street the other day, and suddenly beheld a lady wearing a shirt that loudly proclaimed PERVERT. It was amazing.

I tried to take a picture. Perhaps I should have asked her if I could take a pic, but I get shy about that sometimes. Ultimately, I missed the mark. Would have been so funny.

Makes one wonder what could have been… And where the hell these shirts come from?

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Jocelyn Eikenburg of Speaking of China

This week’s author interview is with Jocelyn Eikenburg, of SpeakingofChina.com fame, her successful blog focusing on relationship dynamics across the world. As an American woman married to a Chinese man and living in Hangzhou, she has experienced a lot and writes well about the expat perspectives.

She also submitted to the anthology book How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? which I happened to review. Do give it a read.

Without further ado…

 

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First question, of course: What brought you to China?

I was about to graduate from Marshall University and, like a lot of young people, had no clue about what I wanted to do with my future apart from one thing – travel. I couldn’t get enough of international travel after a semester studying abroad in Spain. I figured I would snag a job in a Spanish-speaking country somewhere in the world, and continue my international adventures like that.

Except, I couldn’t find a job that really appealed to me.

So one day I walked into the International Affairs office at my university for guidance. That’s when the director asked me, “How about teaching in China?” As it turned out, Marshall University had run a successful teach in China program for years (Appalachians Abroad).

I remember thinking at the time, China? He’s got to be kidding. Nothing about my life suggested all roads lead to China.

But later on, as I pondered his suggestion, I realized that, deep down, I was quietly fascinated by a number of things connected to China – from Taoism and green tea to tofu and traditional Chinese medicine.

Of course, spending an entire year in a country where you can’t speak the language and know little about the culture is a scary proposition. But I was even more frightened of having nothing to do after graduation and the opportunity to travel ultimately won out over all my fears. So I signed on to teach English in Zhengzhou, China.

Who’d have thought that one chance decision would end up setting the course for my future?

 

What was your biggest challenge?

Initially, not knowing Chinese at all created some stressful and even embarrassing situations for me when I first arrived in China. I hated going out to run even the simplest errands, like mailing a letter, because I’d have to spend an hour trying to memorize a few phrases and then still end up understanding almost nothing they would say to me. Or I’d have these moments in small stores where I would turn as red as the little Chinese dictionary in my hands, paging through it in an often futile effort to express myself. I’m confident I entertained quite a few shopkeepers during my first few months in China.

 

How did you get involved in the anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?

Through Susan Blumberg-Kason, I learned of Shannon Young’s call for submissions for a new expat women’s anthology focused on Asia. I thought it might be fun to write about the time my husband and I used our honeymoon vacation in China to take his dad to visit Huangshan, so I sent Shannon an essay about that. Then, of course, I crossed my fingers and hoped I might actually make the cut!

I feel really fortunate to have been chosen for the anthology, as I share the pages with some incredibly talented writers.

 

Any China-centric authors you enjoy?

Pearl Buck definitely stands out as one of my favorites. I read The House of Earth (The Good Earth, Sons, A House Divided) many years ago when I was in Shanghai, and just fell completely in love with her style, not to mention how she wrote so compassionately about the Chinese and their culture. Not surprisingly, I ended up checking out every single Pearl Buck book in the local library after my husband and I moved back to the US for some time.

There’s this one quote from her book Kinfolk that has stayed with me over the years:

“It takes a certain kind of person to live in China now….Someone who can see true meanings, someone who does not only want the world better but believes it can be made better, and gets angry because it is not done, someone who is not willing to hide himself in one of the few good places left in the world–someone who is tough!”

China has changed much since the 1930s and 1940s, when Buck was writing most of her books, and yet there’s truth in this quote even today.

 

Is it difficult to find new subject matter for Speaking of China?

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SZ-based expat artist wins Hong Kong award

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http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2015-08/13/content_3308964.htm

THE Asia Society in Hong Kong recently held an exhibition featuring the works of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara entitled “Life Is Only One.” Famed for his haunting portraits of large-eyed children juxtaposed against dangerous scenarios, the oil painter has inspired artists all around the world to challenge themselves and forge new connections.

For the end of the exhibition, the Asia Society decided to host a competition in which artists could submit work based on Nara’s aesthetics. The contest received hundreds of entries. Entries were divided into three sections: a child division for children aged 6-11, a youth division for teenage artists aged 12-17 and an open division for anyone 18 and over.

The competition’s champion was South African Shenzhen resident Bronwen Shelwell, an art lecturer at the OCT campus of Shenzhen Polytechnic’s International Foundation College, for her glass nest sculpture entitled “Home.”

“Inspiration for this artwork came from my own interpretation of Nara’s process, an artist I have admired for years,” said Shelwell. “I wanted to find a way to express a similar innocence, as he does with his childlike imagery, with a subconscious, violent twist. I took the familiar form of a nest — a symbol of home, safety and innocence — but constructed it out of the fragile, delicate, but also dangerous material of glass. In line with Nara’s process, the base of the glass nest was made out of found material — the broken glass of a car window scattered on the side of a road. I collected the shards and then made a mold, which I melted the glass into. On this base, I assembled glass rods, each one worked into a natural shape over a gas flame. I then built the nest piece by piece, as a child or bird would do.

“The nest is empty. I wanted there to be something read in its vacancy, something familiar, as with Nara’s imagery, but unnerving at the same time. I took an object always associated with warmth and safety but displayed it with a palpable loss.”

Shelwell has lived in Shenzhen for several years and frequently contributes to the Hong Kong art scene. “I go to Hong Kong often to see the latest exhibitions at contemporary art galleries. I feel this keeps me up to date with current trends, gives me inspiration. It also helps me be a better lecturer for my students and a better artist. I have worked with a few galleries, mostly behind the scenes in curating or writing about exhibitions and preparing for Art Basel, which was recently launched in Hong Kong.”

On Sunday the Asia Society hosted an awards ceremony — also presented by the Hong Kong Jockey Club — and finalists got to exhibit their pieces in a new show.

Shelwell was excited when she heard the news that she won the championship in the adult division. “I felt incredibly happy! It is my first time actually exhibiting one of my pieces in Hong Kong. I’ve exhibited in other countries and I have a few clients that I make artwork for in Hong Kong, but this is the first time I’ve had my art displayed in a gallery here. It was so overwhelming that the exhibition theme was based on an artist I love, and the space was the Asia Society, one of the most beautiful gallery spaces in Hong Kong.”

Shelwell also believes this is good news for Shenzhen. “I think it is a wonderful thing that artwork from Shenzhen was admitted and did well in a Hong Kong exhibition. I think this was a wonderful opportunity for the Shenzhen art community as a whole to be recognized in Hong Kong.”

The exhibition will be held at the Asia Society until Aug. 16. More information can be found at their website http://asiasociety.org/hong-kong.

 

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Asia Society arts award ceremony – an insider’s take

Sunday was a very special day for me and the very beautiful and very talented South African artist Bronwen Shelwell.

(Hope this blog isn’t a conflict of interest, but I think the story is worth sharing! The subsequent proper article might be, but that’s okay)

You see, over at the Asia Society in Hong Kong there happened to be an exhibition of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s works, “Life is Only One.” To complement the show, the society also hosted an art competition.

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So Bronwen decided to produce one of her signature glass nests, one which incorporates Nara’s themes of childish characters hinting at darkness and danger. She submitted the pitch, and we were pleasantly surprised when they quickly emailed back that she was a finalist and needed to come to HK to drop off the piece (Well, I wasn’t surprised; I was sure she would do well).

When they emailed soon after to say she was selected as champion of the open division, it was very exciting!

Sunday came and I was honored to be Ms. Shelwell’s “plus one” for the awards ceremony. We made a day of entertaining Hong Kong and enjoying the space.

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Then the ceremony began. It was rather quick, going through the child and youth divisions with various runners up. As champion, Bronwen was the last. There was even a ribbon cutting.

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Afterwards, we were free to go up to the gallery to observe all the interesting works. It was amazing how people can take inspiration from Nara and have such original takes. Glad to see a lot of creativity is happening in Hong Kong today, especially among young people.

Bronwen was able to show off her nest in person, entitled “Home,” and also took interviews.

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Button Masher T.O.

Hi there, gamers!

Although my nerdy tendencies are primarily focused on the medium of comicsI do have more sides to myself as shared in this old post: Casual Gamer

With this in mind, I hope it is appropriate to interview Mr. Corey van den Hoogenband of the website Button Masher T.O.

 

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http://buttonmasherto.com


Let’s begin. Firstly, how would you describe the Button Masher T.O. blog?

 

Button Masher T.O. is a joint project among a handful of writers, podcasters, and video creators, covering and sharing the nerdy junk they love in Toronto and beyond. We’ve
been around for just over half a year and are proud to say we’ve had over 30,000 visitors, collaborated with several other talented bloggers and sites, and had articles upvoted to the top of various gaming subreddits on more than one occasion.

 

 

What is the backstory to the creation of Button Masher T.O. and what led you to write for it?

 

So Nic and myself, along with Damion, were the three original founders of the site, and the whole thing with Nic is that our entire ten-year friendship has essentially been one long conversation about video games. We met in the schoolyard talking about fake cheat codes we imagined for Soul Calibur II, and solidified our friendship through countless rounds of Smash Bros Melee. Seriously – COUNTLESS.Nic and I had been wanting to do something like Button Masher for years, and around December I felt really compelled to share a lot of gaming opinions. I write for another Toronto based arts blog that respects video games as an art form, but I knew that they weren’t really the place for games discussion – that’s just not what they cover. So rather than sulk at the fact my current site won’t publish my gaming stories, I opted to unite with Nic, along with Damion, to create a new site that would host all our gaming outbursts. Enter Button Masher T.O.

 

What is your personal process by which you get an idea for a post, and how do you go about writing it?

More likely than not, the process begins with me jumping out of bed late at night to grab my phone and make a memo about what it is I want to write about. I can say with confidence though that in my experience the key to writing a successful article is writing about what you care about and why you care about it. There’s going to be a million other sites covering the exact same news stories whether that’s gaming, politics, what have you – and readers can get that same news anywhere. What’s going to bring people towards your article is how you perceive that news. Your opinion is your greatest ally – and if it differs from everyone else, even better!

If you wanted an example, early in July a trailer dropped for the “A Matter of Family” Batgirl DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight. I noticed that in the trailer Harley Quinn, a character I think is great, is sporting her original outfit from the ’90s Batman cartoon. Instead of writing an article saying “Check out this new trailer!” like everyone else did, I wrote something along the lines of “Harley Quinn Goes Old School in New Batgirl DLC.” Even a month later, that article brings in at least 30 visitors a day.

 

Are there any writers who particularly inspire you?

I think I’m influenced most greatly by Greg Miller and the rest of the guys at Kinda Funny. I’ve been reading Miller’s stuff since he first showed up at IGN in the late 2000s, and his style of writing worked in such a way that it didn’t feel like text on screen, it felt like your nerdy friend telling you why you would or wouldn’t like game x. I hope my writing comes across the same way to readers – that there’s a guy on the other end who’s excited to tell them about whatever the article is about.

 

Now that the Button Masher podcast is up on iTunes, can you share some interesting things about making a podcast?

Without a doubt the hardest part of a podcast is starting each episode. Once the ball is rolling you feel fine going for 30, 40, 50 minutes, but I know whether it’s me on Podcast Engage or Nic hosting CineMasher, we always do four or five intro attempts before we get it right. “Heeeeello internet and welcome to the… no no no that was way too lame.” Picture that but in ten plus variations each episode.

 

I see you cover a lot of cool nerdy pop culture, focusing on video games but not exclusively so. From Muppets to Bojack Horseman, what are some of your favorite non-gaming franchises and stories?

Well the whole idea of not exclusively covering games is an extension of our longing to just share and celebrate the stuff that we would talk about anyways if Nic, Damion, the others, and myself were sitting around at a bar. When it comes to non-gaming I’d say some of my personal favourite franchises would have to be Batman: The Animated Series, Breaking Bad, the A Song of Ice and Fire books, and most recently this exceptional comic book series, Saga.

 

What were your favorite games growing up?

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the first game I got addicted to. I was too young to beat the game’s first temple so I’d just run around exploring Termina as Link until my three day cycle ran out, then I’d start again and repeat. You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I found an old Nintendo Power Magazine with a walkthrough of Majora’s Mask’s dungeons and realized there was more to Zelda than just cutting down bushes. My life was changed…I’ve yet to figure out if that was for better or worse.

 

What are your favorite games currently?

Right now I’m obsessed with Batman: Arkham Knight. I caved and bought the 40 dollar season pass, so hopefully it’ll supply me with the Batman fix I desperately crave all the way up until the new year. I’m a weak, weak man.

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HSK: 漢語水平考試

你好!

Better late than never:

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A number of months ago I studied and studied until I was ready to take the HSK (Hanyu shuiping kaoshi/漢語水平考試, that is ‘Mandarin Chinese level test) level four. (四級)

Honestly, I’m not particularly good at Chinese. I have no natural talent at languages. I have however been constantly writing and rewriting characters over the last several years.

I didn’t take the level three, but the way to study is to memorize 600 vocabulary words from that test, and then 600 more level four. By the way, I’m obviously better at using pinyin feature to learn 漢字, which means I type Latin letters — English alphabet basically — on computers and phones. I can’t actually write all those characters from scratch, but I can definitely recognize them for reading. It’s like even in English I’m a bad speller but thank goodness for technology.

By the way my computer is stuck on Traditional script 繁體字. That’s okay.

I’d estimate I know 1800 to 2000 characters by heart? And still many thousands more to learn…

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So I met with my tutor once a week, and she set up the test at Shenzhen University 深大. I took practice tests many times over. The test portions consist of listening, reading, and writing. Putting sentences in order is among the hardest parts, and I improved the most on listening.. I think I average about a solid 80-something percent B.

Somehow my reading is not half-bad for a foreigner, if I do say so myself, yet I still struggle with spoken Chinese. I need to get out there more.

Anyway, it’s been months and now I got the certificate in the mail. I can hang it on my wall and put on a resume. See how that works out for me in the future.

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Perhaps next year the HSK 5–

 

Excerpt from Pearl River Drama

Originally posted on China Squat:

Pearl River Drama

Ray Hecht is a Shenzhen-based writer who likes to review books and explore the world. His novel “South China Morning Blues” is coming out next month in Hong Kong, published by Blacksmith Books. You can find more from Ray at his blog website rayhect.com

Written over the past year, “Pear River Drama” happens to be Ray’s memoir of his time in South China, and as part of a special promotion is free today for the Amazon Kindle app via this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

Below is an excerpt from the eBook.

And stay tuned for information about the forthcoming novel. Emma, Online 


Spring of 2012. Upon returning to Shenzhen, I was in a bit of a dry spell. Or rather, continuing a bit of a dry spell. Life was going well enough, I was productive and working out often and biking and writing and generally getting used to my newly familiar…

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Girl with the Microphone Tattoo: Dating in Hong Kong

This week’s interview is with the mysterious “Girl with a Microphone Tattoo”, a new blogger whom you must check out. Topics include some rather appropriate themes as per this site: Dating in Hong Kong.

Some very well-written and interesting perspectives below. Honest, frank, in tune with the modern state of romance in the world, and also anonymous

 

http://www.girlwiththemictattoo.com

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What inspired you to start such a personal blog?

I actually had a blog from a few years ago that discussed my personal life. As with the internet, things go awry and some people (who weren’t involved at all in the stories) started to attack me for my content which made me delete those posts immediately.

You actually were the one that inspired me to start this new blog. I really enjoyed reading your Dating in China series – I found it entertaining to hear things from a man’s perspective, cause most of the men in my life are largely closed off and unwilling to talk about such matters.

My friends had also always told me I had the most interesting and convoluted love life so I thought it’d be fun to share it to a wider audience and see what happens, without the consequences of people I know lashing out at me again.

 

Do you find the unique geographical circumstances of Hong Kong to be a positive or negative in dating? How would you compare it to dating in other places in the world?

The variety of people you meet is interesting to say the least. Because Hong Kong is such a compact city, it’s easy to meet different types of people easily and quickly. Another great thing about the compactness of the city is that I can go on dates without needing the stress of commuting, worrying if my hair is going to stay in place  or staging a conversation between me and my romantic partner.

I’ve found that in other places like North America, I would stress about different little things on my journey to the date – spending time on a conversation and/or stressing over how I look. In Hong Kong, it’s more about worrying about the transportation to the date: Whether it is crowd surfing on the MTR or worrying if you’re going to be that last person who squeezes into the bus… There is significantly less time for me to worry about date-y things until I get to the location.

That being said, I personally find that there are less variety of people with an international perspective in other places like North America, which is important to me since I grew up here and am seeking for someone who is worldly.

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages to the international flair of HK residents? Is it a good or bad thing that there are so many expats?

Personally, I don’t mind that there is such a large expat community because I love meeting new people with all sorts of backgrounds. But it does lead to a few nasty surprises sometimes when you realise the ephemeral nature of these relationships. It’s happened to me a couple of times where I found out this guy I really liked was leaving in a few weeks. So far nothing that crazy has happened to me but I have heard horror stories where people have just packed up and left without so much as a goodbye and that just breaks my heart. Those people are pretty much robots without a heart or conscience.

I know that these stories might be one in a million, but it really only takes one to fuck you up and cast a shadow on your future relationships.

As for HK residents, I like that a lot of them have an international flair and know what’s going on around the world beyond the Asian or HK bubble. It means I can basically talk to them about anything: From Marxist ideals to the Umbrella Revolution and Starcraft 2, the list goes on.

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the game of love in Hong Kong?

Don’t get too serious too quick. Sure, it might seem like the man/woman is perfect for you at the time but you really don’t know them yet. Take your time and get those good and nasty surprises out of the way before you really commit. Also, I have found that people here can be really flaky sometimes, (like a lot of the time) so bear that in mind and have some fun!

 

It seems hard to be a girl these days. Ever long for the days before Tinder and such apps, back when men were supposed to be more gentlemanly? On the subject, just what is your general opinion of dating apps?

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