Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peter Ford of Christian-Science Monitor

The CSM Olympics blog, new to the roll. I like this take:

I came to Beijing several weeks before the Olympics, knowing that when I return, I will not be in China. I will be in Olympicland.

To go to an Olympics as a journalist is not to go to a foreign country, but to live, work, and sleep in a world hermetically sealed by chain-link and barbed wire and run entirely by McDonald’s and Cola-Cola.

It is a netherworld connected to its host nation only by the language of the volunteers and the currency needed to buy Big Macs. This is as it should be. The Olympic venues must be secure, though it leads to keeping everything distinctive about the host nation out of the security cordon. Had I come to China only for the Olympics, I never would have been in China.


The goal of the blog, as stated in the first entry on July 21:

Through our stories and blogs, we hope to give you a compelling and unvarnished look at the world of the Olympics and Beijing’s astonishing effort to make them perfect.

In covering three Olympic Games from 2002 to 2006, I have begun to see this cultural phenomenon from the inside – removed from the edits, tape delays, and sweeping string accompaniments of NBC. The Olympics can be infuriating, heartbreaking, and breathtaking, often within the space of a single minute.

But they are always interesting. We hope you will think so, too.


I can get behind that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This cat needs a name



It was not out of nowhere that she appeared -- to say that would not be entirely accurate, because we all have an origin. But not all things which come into being have the same effect upon the beholder, and so it is that we designate phrases to convey our shock and awe and gratitude for a thing's existence, and so it was last evening that the creature pictured above appeared out of nowhere, a scrawny thing that looked like the creation of a 7th grade crafts student, a few tufts of hair stuck to a bowl of clay fresh out of a kiln.

I thought she would retreat from my advances but she did not. I placed a few fingers on her back and felt her spine, jagged and improper, and still she did not move. Neither did she supplicate. She tried mewing but no sound came out, and it was then that I hopped back onto my bike and wheeled to the nearby convenience store to buy some food (Whiskas, 39 RMB -- not cheap).

She was gone when I returned. I circled around the yard, dawdled, fed a white cat instead, then spied her again, lying at the same place. As I went to her another white cat, also probably female, eyed us through the grass, its timidity outweighing its hunger.



Another cat, also nameless


For 15 minutes today I crouched on the first step, waiting for her to follow. She squeaked meekly. The skin of her belly drooped. Goo flowed out of her right eye. She needed help, but she would not take the first step. I picked her up and weighed her lightness, studied her complexion. I wanted to take her in, wipe off the dust, set her back in flow with the world. That first step, however, it was up to her to take. And she did not. She may not be fit for the wild, not like Aegian, the playful and shameless cat with bi-colored eyes, not like Tammy, the white female who keeps tight watch of her heart, but she would not be so quick to trust what was not her kind. She would not follow, no matter how patiently I waited.

I wonder what hardships await. I wonder if she knows. More importantly, I wonder if she'll adapt, or cope, or endure. Endure, yes. We all do, eventually, learn the world and let the world learn from us. Or we die, nameless and mute.

Beijing Bureau: ticket madness!

Here.


Yes, îLes Salomon, you too get a placard.

A peace disturbed

I've got Beethoven and all the sheer brilliant madness of his 9th Symphony playing on iTunes when a flash of light makes me blink. Did a mosquito just crash into his death? God I hope so. Then thunder cracks and an altogether different thought hits me: they're seeding clouds. If I didn't know better that's what I'd say, anyway. But I do know better. Silver iodide doesn't do anything.

Right...?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Links of the week

Because these are too interesting:

  • John Pomfret, former Beijing bureau chief of the Washington Post, weighs in on why China will remain a "muscle-bound adolescent" rather than develop into a superpower.

  • Pole dancing is gaining traction in China, despite the built-in barriers. Check out the video, too.

  • Everything you need to know about China? You decide.

  • The Pew survey everyone's been linking to.

  • Even for the Chinese, 150 cm is very short.

  • Ignore the title of this article, because the protest these Nigerian athletes are planning has little to do with Beijing but because "were not happy with the shoddy treatment they alleged the National Sports Commission (NSC) meted out to them and as such, according to them, 'want the whole world to know what we passed through before coming to the games'." Interesting. So the Olympics are being politicized by neutral parties as well.

  • Lead: "Beijing has set up a sex determination lab to test female Olympic athletes suspected to be males." Read more.

  • Sports Illustrated's Olympic preview issue, which always wins some national magazine award, is coming out this week. Check out Alexander Wolff/Richard Deitsch's essay on these Olympics.

  • TBJ: Changes around Beijing.

  • New Yorker: China's neocons (best article about China I've read this year).

  • Oops. (It's about Tiananmen, late-80s-ish.)

  • Beijing hutongs and the modern siheyuan.

And finally, the picture of the day:

DON'T DEMOLISH

Like Scar, the Cylon

There's one mosquito left. One. It's been within my crosshairs three times, and each time it somehow manages to elude my hand at the very last moment. I don't know how this can be. I've even had an electronic mosquito killed lined up with its body, only to have the swatter malfunctioned. This mosquito is blessed by gods, or at least highly evolved. It's like Scar, the Cylon Raider. I can't kill it. I can barely find it.

It's 3:40 a.m. and I have been searching for half an hour. I should name it, this. It has single-handedly given me OCD. My eyes are tracing square inches.

What I know:

1. It doesn't land the same place twice.

2. It prefers dark surfaces, mahogany, that sort.

3. It will not fly into the light, but neither will it fly away if you shine a light upon it.

4. It's fast.

5. It's huge.

It's engorged on my blood and that blood needs to be spilled. It's 3:59 a.m.

UPDATE, 7/29, 10:13 a.m.: Thanks to Lee for reminding me to say for the record that, like Scar, all forces of evil must eventually perish with no resurrection. But let us remember, in our victory, that a day of reckoning awaits us all, and celebrate not death but the worth of all our separate lives.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Longqingxia and... aghhhhhhhhhh


Visited Longqingxia 龙庆峡 yesterday, a ravine full of cliffs and cypress trees. A bit pricey, much more than we had anticipated (Molly: "So with lunch, the day should be under 100 kuai...woohoo!"): 40 RMB ticket, then 60 RMB, then 150 RMB for bungee. Bungee? Yes, bungee. See below...






It wasn't too high -- 48 meters -- but high enough for me to lose a sandal that was taped to my foot. It was awesome. (And in case you're wondering... yes, it was my first time.)


Video here, appropriately titled "Flailing."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing: Ogilvy Digital Watch

ODW, written by Kaiser Kuo, a Chinese-American musician/writer. Blogroll!

POSTSCRIPT: Unless I'm mistaken and there are two Kaiser Kuos in Beijing, Kaiser's latest Ich Bin Ein Beijinger column in The Beijinger magazine is a very good read, titled "Beijing Graduation." I can't find it online, so you'll just have to pick up a copy of TBJ from your favorite five-star hotel.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tao Guiming, 1931-2008

陶贵明,my dad's aunt (second youngest in a family of five), passed away peacefully Sunday of kidney failure at the age of 77. I was at Nainai's for lunch today when I found out. She told me to ask my dad to call her later that night. I said I could call now, and that's when she revealed the news.

I didn't know her well, but my dad and her were very close, so she looked upon me like a treasured grandson -- the only child of eldest children. My parents and I visited her at the People's Hospital (人民医院) two weeks ago, walking through a corridor that smelled like someone had sprayed Lysol over death. We entered a room divided into two sections, each with one aisle and six or seven beds on each side. She recognized us immediately, and I suppose we recognized her, too, if one can recognize skeletons. She was frail, having not eaten in days, and near death -- this much was obvious, but we didn't think of it in those terms. I wonder if we would have said anything different if we had processed this fact.

You're reminded, sitting next to a deathbed, of the fragility of life, yet even so you can't bring yourself to imagine the other side. To imagine the occupant of the bed traveling there. No last words, wisdoms. Comforts, as if that were needed. You can only hold the person's hand, careful so as not to crush it, and offer your sincerest, warmest smile, without any trace of pity or regret.

I wish I had a good picture to put up, but I can't find anything appropriate. This will have to do.


Tao Guiming is survived by her two children, Feiteng 费挺 and Feizhe 费哲, and her younger sister, Guiqin 贵琴.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

KC Currents again on Kansas City's 89.3 FM


A second interview! And, really, I felt better after this go-around than the first time.

POSTSCRIPT: Ask and thou shall receive. The good folks at ESPN The Mag have put my Beijing Bureau stories in one easy-to-find location, so you can read all my Olympics-related stories (well, most of them) in one place.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Latest from the Beijing Bureau

The sprint's on...

Glimpsing the future on the Airport Express Line.

Can't say the Chinese don't know sex

This sort of piggybacks on an earlier entry today about Chinabounder...

A compendious list of articles I encountered yesterday related to sex/violence in China -- stuff Law and Order: SVU would be proud to have -- some of it, I warn beforehand, quite graphic:

Subway voyeurs
(Shanghaiist): This video entitled “这个女人太要了” ("This girl wants it too much") uploaded to Youtube just five days ago has received over 317,000 views and raised a storm on the Chinese internet. [Video no longer available]

"Shanghai passions" (HT: Shanghaiist, China Smack): two girls on a subway train.


17-year-old Chinese girl beaten and raped; Video on Chinese web (Shanghaiist, via some French website)

Three more from China Smack, a popular site growing more popular by the day:


From China.org:

  • Chinese Attitudes Toward Sex Maturing
  • But it's not quite there yet: Most children get evasive responses or even a scolding for asking such "embarrassing" questions as "How did I come into this world?" or "Why do men and women use different toilets?"
  • Attitude shift among women: According to a survey conducted among the women in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, over 80 percent of women surveyed attach importance to the quality of sexual life, the ratio exceeds 95 percent among those with a college education level and above.

Research center for sex culture (Shanghai Daily)

Allow me two cents on the South China Morning Post

I wouldn't call the article Tom Miller wrote journalism at its worst, but it's certainly reckless and it's certainly terrible.

If I talk too much about this I'll become enraged and lose out on sleep. Also, Beijing Boyce has completely circled the wagon and far out-reported the original author of the article. That said, allow me just two thoughts:

1. If you publish an inflammatory story, you should at least have the decency to not use a headline as ludicrous as "Authorities order bars not to serve black people." No one would even need to read the article to jump to a website like MediaTakeOut and start tossing out "chink," "well i stop eat chinese food from now on!!!!!" and "DAMN! I JUST HOPE JAPAN IZ A LOT MORE CIVIL TOWARDS ANY AND ALL BLACK PEOPLE".

I hope you're happy with what you've incited, Tom Miller and SCMP editors, this in a country that's been friendlier to African nations than most others.

2. Co-Ed Magazine is a piece of shit, and this is the most moronic thing I've ever read. If I ever meet Andrew from Hunter College, I would have a difficult time -- so help me somebody -- holding back punches.

Also, I know sports blogs like Deadspin and With Leather are just for humor, but do the writers there have to make asses of themselves? I now sort of -- and I can't believe I'm saying this, considering -- see why Buzz Bissinger was so mad at them. (Will Leitch, come back to Deadspin, please.)

3. Okay, I'm worked up... might as well throw in another penny...

From Beijing Boyce:

- Most interesting, two people working at one bar had different perspectives on the terminology used by the police. One said the police used “black” in reference to skin color; while the other said it was used in terms of bad elements (the Chinese character for “black” is part of a phrase used to describe criminals).

I believe it takes a 2nd grader's command of the Chinese language to understand that 黑 can refer to "criminal."

Other reactions:

  • Time: "The paper also suggested that 'not all bars in the [area] had been ordered to refuse black customers,' contrary to the original claim that all bars had been asked to discriminate against black people.'"
  • The Humanaught: "...a number of others have jumped to the call and found no evidence that supports the SCMP article."
  • Granite Studio, via Peking Duck: "YJ checked out the rumor with some people “in the know,” looks like the SCMP pulled this at random off of some BBS. Rumor: BUSTED."
  • Blogging for China: "For this post, I just want to point out an interesting quote Tom Miller managed to extract from an unnamed black British national: 'Chinese people are prejudiced, but I would have hoped that the government would set a better example as it debuts on the world stage.'" (And a longer post here.)
  • Beijing Olympic Games 2008: "This report in the South Morning China Post is probably one of the less researched stories and paints Beijing and China in a particularly bad light."
  • World Affairs Board: "But to believe a report like that, you must be borderline retard or a hater, or both"
  • GeoExPat: "Not entirely accurate it seems."
  • Because we have to complete the circle... Beijing Boyce: "Apparently the policy is so secret that the police are keeping it from all but a few bar owners who can be trusted to reveal it to foreign journalists."

A rather amazing comment to a sort of blase article

From a Danwei article about Chinabounder (you don't need to know), this is the first paragraph of a four-paragraph comment from someone called bianxiangbianqiao:

If "Great" means attracting the best people in the world, China is in a sorry position. It is collecting junk from the world over. The book and "chinabounder" tell you a lot about the kind of foreigners flooding to China. The most disturbing part is that these losers and castaways from their own country are on university campuses. Not one foreign academic with a real grownup's job (on a tenure-track position) in America I know of over the last decade has gone to China on a long-term basis. China is certainly not attracting the brightest minds in the world. Most of those foreigners on Chinese campuses are not even qualified for adjunct staff (a very sorry position) here. Even China's own people, the Qinghua and Beida graduates who are now the top two most likely candidates to earn American Ph. D.s, are staying away from its universities. (Number 3 is UC Berkeley. Its undergraduates are 45% Asian. How many of them are Chinese descendants?) Why are the patriotic Chinese overseas dragging their feet in America? Is their patriotism fake? No. It is because Chinese universities are filled with losers like chinabounder and "professor" Zhang Jiehai. These two are quite a match. How desperate you have to be to want to join these guys?

Read more here, from a post titled "Fertility Display? What Chinabounder Tells Us about the Western Male Reproductive Strategy":

I read somewhere in the anthropological literature (I am no anthropologist, therefore cannot remember the correct citation) that there are three critical scenes essential to the Western male identity. Number one is the fighting scene. Number two is the drunk scene and number three is the callous sex scene. Reminds me of Sanlitun, as described on the internet; I have never set foot on that part of my hometown.

I have my faults, admittedly, but BXBQ's post sort of makes me proud to not be a laowai -- especially the sort who'd write this crap.

POSTSCRIPT: I'm being facetious, of course, as I tend to be on occasion on this site. It is, however, a bit late for anthropological discussions, so I'll add some thoughts if they come to me later.

POSTSCRIPT 2: The fourth-to-last comment on Danwei's 35-comment thread, nestled between an engrossing exchange between "Bill" and "Pffefer":

People, read my book if you got nothing better to do.
Posted by: Chinabounder | July 19, 2008 10:05 AM

Monday, July 21, 2008

An example of irony

Story:

Three Chinese reporters attending a police briefing on the success of an anti-gun campaign were accidentally shot, media reports say.

That’s from BBC, not The Onion. Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

A website so popular it broke the Internet

Welcome to the blog roll, China Smack -- really a rather amazing resource, and a little surprising it's only now something like this has come into existence.

From the ABOUT section:

Q. 你怎么丢中国人的脸,把些见不人的事登给外国人看?你没面子吗?
A. 说实话,我懒得跟你解释。你不明白就算了。

Translation:

Q. How can you be such an embarrassment to Chinese people, publishing hard-to-find news for foreigners to read? Have you no pride?
A. To tell you the truth, I have no interest in explaining this to you. If you don't understand, too bad.

And keep up the interesting work that breaks the Internet... sort of.
[UPDATE, 2/28/12: The link no longer connects to what it used to connect to.]

POSTSCRIPT: Linked from the site, another story of the Chinese Netizen lynch mob at work. Sickening.

More on Beijing's air quality

Leave it to a publication that knows the country to give us an informed view. Austin Ramzy:

What I was hopping to convey was that it's a bit silly (and yes, I've been guilty of it, too) to look out the window with a month to go before the Games, see the Beijing haze and declare that the Games are in peril. The short-term measures that are being put in place, like taking close to half the cars off Beijing streets nearly three weeks before the events start, will have a significant effect on air quality.

This seems like the right opportunity to reproduce part of a pitch I sent Slate on June 24, asking them to let me write about the overblown concerns over Beijing's air. I outlined for them six reasons for optimism:

1. Cars pulled off the road, gas prices raised: ozone reduction. The main cause of air pollution is vehicle emissions, and according to a paper published by Harvard researchers (who should be accessible), 70 percent of the nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere come from car emissions, which react with particles in the air and petroleum to form ozone (O3). During the Sino-Africa summit in November 2006, Beijing experimented with their odd-even license plate plan that effectively eliminates half the city's cars from the roads, and the Harvard researchers found that over a three-day span there was a 40% reduction in NOx. I'd love to find out more, ask about implications, etc.

2. Construction moratorium and factory shutdown: particles reduction. Beijing's treated these last few months like an 11th hour cram session to finish up projects like subway lines and condos. We're about to go from that extreme to the other of no construction at all. The large dust particles that construction projects throw into the atmosphere will disappear, helping clear the air.

3. Geography and seasonal winds. Hills to the north and northwest block the southern winds that blow through during the summer, which means Beijing needs to shut down the big plants just south of the city lest they want the smog to settle over the metropolis. They know about this, and they will. Winds blow from the north during the spring, bringing down lots of dust from Mongolian sandstorms. This contributes to the pollution we see these days, but they won't be a factor come August.

4. Because national Olympic Committees aren't worried, and aren't they the ones that should be? Darryl Seibel, USOC spokesperson: "Given the fact that the appropriate bodies are aware of this, are making it a priority and have a plan to do something about it, we're comfortable."

[Need to talk to the Australian Olympic Committee... I suspect one of their official's "concerns" over air pollution got twisted horribly out of context, as somehow this story transformed into this, which uses loaded words like "ban" and "boycott." Interview with Canadian Olympic Committee, UK Sport and IOC spokesperson TK.]

5. A quote from David Streets, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, who I interviewed for the ESPN piece: "They also may of course do more things -- they have the ability to reduce emissions more if it looks like things are really bad; they may say, Okay, all factories shut down and stop driving your car unless you absolutely have to the next few days. It's the advantage of centrally controlled countries: they can do this and hope for the best."

6. A little bit of luck. Mention of how six is a lucky number. As is eight, as in the Opening Ceremonies date, 8-8-08. Talk about how the best thing that could happen for Beijing is rain and wind in the week before the Opening Ceremony to clear up the air (this would have a tremendous effect, and I may be able to find a meteorologist to talk about it). Talk to the Italian forecast team that was recently selected to be the official weather team for these Games.

FOLLOW-UP EMAIL:

I'd take a much more aggressive approach in defending China's anti-pollution initiatives. There's been so much pessimism about Beijing's air that I'd like to pull the discussion back towards the middle. It may seem bad now, but there are short-term solutions that really can (because they've proven to) work.

Long-term sustainability is a different beast, but when you're talking about whether the air will be clear during the weeks of the Olympic and Paralymic Games, then I must reiterate my initial feeling that things will be just fine. Take a deep breath, people.

My Slate pitch was politely declined.

POSTSCRIPT: I know this post comes late, but I've been in Inner Mongolia the last five days and only used the Internet for an hour in that span. Don't know how I survived. Anyway, look for some massive backdated posts in the coming week, if I can get my wits about me. (They drink a lot of baijiu out there. A lot. Our versions of GANBEI were not at all like this:)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Inner Mongolia: Day 1 (part 1)

Start of the journey ~ A stop ~ Lunch ~ Grasslands ~ Father ~ Magnificence ~ Buying-place of the cowboy hats ~ The reason for this trip ~ Archery ~ Sunset
The skies were impossibly blue, the clouds much too low. That's my lasting impression of Day 1, where I slept hardly a quiver the night before due to a College Basketball Encyclopedia deadline yet still outlasted the bonfire; where, sustained by baijiu, I stood in a massage parlor with an aghast grin on my face and the image of clouds, now metallic bronze in the dark dim but just hours before perfectly white in an impossibly blue sky.

An un-refurbished part of the Great Wall

The Grasslands of Inner Mongolia; 乌兰布统草原
Dad

I bought three cowboy hats here for 10 RMB each.

The reason for this trip was a college reunion. Both my parents were graduates of Beida -- Beijing University -- and both were part of the inaugural class to resume schooling following the Cultural Revolution. (In case you're wondering: both went through rural reeducation.)

The class, of 80 people, is remarkable in many ways, not least of which because they are forever connected by history: the first class to rise out of the mess that was Mao's war against intellectualism; the first intellectuals, from all walks of life, all parts of the country (Inner Mongolia included), from all backgrounds -- forever melded together.

Most of the graduates went on to immensely successful careers -- there are legitimate billionaires in the group, as well as activists and dissidents -- but when they're together, nothing but their shared experience matters: not wealth, not status. I don't mean to say the old classmates tiptoed on glass around one another; on the contrary, they teased, they heckled, they shouted over each other, laughed over each other, forcibly gave their opinions, lunged and parried. What I do want to express is how unique this class reunion is; not all 80 could make it, but those who did might have made even the most sociable of folks green with envy.

Through it all, they took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

The tourist stop, with archery. My first two hit just outside the inner circle. My next two missed the target.
Goodbye. You've been good to us. But everyone has his time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Did China save the 1984 Olympics?

A very good read from the New York Times, which is apparently taking a day off from criticizing Beijing's Olympic efforts:

At the other end of the line was Charles Lee, the man he had sent to persuade the Chinese to send their team to the Olympics for the first time. Ueberroth, the leader of the Los Angeles organizing committee, was asking China to defy a Soviet Union-led boycott that was announced four days earlier. The Soviets said the boycott would keep 100 countries away from the ’84 Games. If the Soviets succeeded, Ueberroth said flatly, “we were done.”

Salvation came when Lee called and told Ueberroth, “They’re coming.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A very, very blue sky

For anyone with doubts that blue skies actually exist in China, allow the past two weeks to put those to rest:



Beijing will need some luck for the weather to be this nice come Games time, but no more knee-jerk doomsday prognosticating, okay? I'm looking your way, Slate.

That's asking for too much, I realize. If liberal publications stopped criticizing Beijing's air, they may actually have to find some non-trite storylines to write about.

POSTSCRIPT: I'm ashamed I just recently discovered James Reynolds's blog for BBC... he has a fairly balanced take of the situation here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On a gorgeous day




UPDATE, 7/14: The first version of this was embarrassingly bad, so I exercised the first rule of poetry revision: excise, excise, excise.

A Picture of Beauty

We admire it
because there is a such thing
existing unto itself, needing
no reference point.

It is not at all like evil in this sense –
did it come before good? Which will come last?
These are not questions
asked of beauty:

finality of worlds,
failings of hearts, this sort of
metaphysics. Of beauty,
there is no doubt, like eyeing
a divine maiden in one of those Renaissance paintings
reclined on a sable loveseat, dove-white
arm bent ever so at the elbow past the natural angle
as if to shade the artist's light,

or the maiden in dreams
along a wooded creek,
floating soundlessly.

The thing about beauty
is it leaves no space
for second-guessing. The feeling
washes over you

in the freshly minted Sunday morning,
the just-woken light careening down.

Studies and surveys have shown
symmetry is beautiful, but I think
it's simpler. The beautiful
is beautiful, a paper boat
on a lagoon, or in a creek,
pointed towards a destination
we’ve glimpsed, perhaps, in a favorite art gallery
or childhood dream.

Friday, July 11, 2008

This really makes me want to buy the book

Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China. That's quite a title, right? The book's written by Philip Pan, former Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post.

An excerpt (HT to Peking Duck):

It was February 2004 by the time Jiang finished showing drafts of his letter to friends and making the final changes to the document. Nearly a year had passed since he exposed the SARS cover-up, and the National People's Congress was preparing to convene again. The fifteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre was just months away. From Jiang's perspective, the timing was perfect. He made 80 copies of the letter and prepared a list of the nation's top officials, including the leaders of the Congress. He sent most of the letters by express mail from his local post office. He asked a few well-connected friends to hand-deliver others. Finally, he gave several copies to his superiors at the hospital and asked them to pass them up through official channels. Then he went home to wait for a response.

When is 10 Yuan not 10 Yuan?

When it's an Olympic 10 Yuan: story.

I saw these people lining up on Tuesday night on my bike ride back from pickup Frisbee at around midnight. It was, to say the least, perplexing. But such is Olympic fervor... sort of. Timeless money fervor is more like it.

Red Cliff

This is the movie I saw yesterday when it opened:


It was, in one word, epic. Not perfect, but certainly epic... as the most expensive movie in Chinese history ($80 million), the effort was certainly there.

I couldn't help but feel some scenes were lost in translation, however. For instance, there was a live breech birth that sent the guy sitting in front of me nearly out of his seat with laughter. Strange. Personally, I could only grimace, as the scene reminded me a bit too much of the video "Miracle of Life," which I watched in 6th-hour freshman honors biology with Dr. Hampton. Live human birth. Miracle my ass.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Models are hotter than you

ESPN The Mag recently ran* my story about adidas's opening of its largest Brand Center worldwide at the Sanlitun Village Shopping Center (this is what I was doing Friday). The day sort of sucked -- I did an interview that morning, then lost the tape recorder on the cab to Sanlitun; to make it worse, it was pouring rain when I got out of the car -- but the fashion show... that most definitely did not suck.

Here are pictures, and there's a video at the end.



Yes, that's Gilbert Arenas.


Can you spot him?







*I was steamed when I saw they ran the adidas story under my "Beijing Bureau" heading and not the original story I sent, which I spent much longer time working on. But apparently they're saving it for tomorrow, so I can calm down -- and maybe go back to bed, since I was woken this morning by the aunt after just four hours of shuteye.