Friday, June 17, 2011

Corporate Poetry

It seems like whatever joy or enrichment that can be felt viewing most advertisements is not worth their mind numbing inanity. Something about consuming content that treats the world like an impulsive baby leaves me feeling a little... dumber. Such as are my beliefs, on the off chance I come across a commercial that makes me laugh or think, it's a pleasant surprise.

The commercial I present to you here is for Taiwan's most popular liquor (Gao Liang). It (the ad) speaks for itself, so I'll spare you any more introduction:
(forgive my novice translation)

When you want to pick up a beautiful woman
it's like you're drinking Gao Liang.
Your first thought is
don't be silly, you won't succeed.
Don't be silly, you'll be drunk.
Don't be silly, you'll be turned down.
Don't be silly, you have work tomorrow.
But if
your whole life you only go for the sure things,
how can you know
what you're capable of?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just Missing the Dance

Yes, that is me. And no, it is not every day you see people grilling out and singing karaoke in front of their temple. This was a celebration for a local god that Jared and I stumbled upon when I was giving him a tour of the city. Thefood was really great, but we had to sing for our supper!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nonhuman Rights

In case you can't see it clearly from my lowly cellphone shot: this is indeed a picture of a lady driving a scooter full of chickens. What kind of world do we live in where black chickens aren't free to sit on the front of the scooter with their white brothers and sisters? Just look at how they hang their heads in despair and humiliation as their priveleged counterparts gleefully strike bold, cocky poses. I don't mind saying that this scene not only sickened me, but gave me newfound sympathy for outlaw radicals like the Animal Liberation Front. But in these trying times we don't need masked crusaders, we need a leader! And that is why I will be working overtime to endorse this guy in his next bid for president:
I've already prepared a speech for the campaign, it's called "I Hatch a Dream"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chirp Chirp

Here is a photo that has been sitting around for a long time waiting patiently for a good blogging. What you're looking at is two intricately crafted grasshoppers, a little smaller than hand-size each. I am told that making these out of long, broad leaves is an old tradition on Taiwanese farms. The man who made these was selling them to kids in front of the biggest temple here in Tainan. The kids were either really patient or really transfixed, because each grasshopper took more than five minutes to make. I'm leaning toward the latter, because the quick swipes of the artist's box cutter interspersed with the deliberate lashing and wrapping motions were more than enough to draw my slackened stare. My thoughts alternated between awe at the precision of the guy's work and disbelief that it was taking so long to finish. To watch someone work so fast for so long with just a leaf puts the thought "OK, that looks like a grasshopper, surely this is the last step" on repeat in your mind for a long time.
I've seen one of these in the office at my college and I must say it still looks good after its metamorphosis into its dried, brown form. Not bad for a leaf and a razor blade! This tradition further heightens my love for the Taiwanese countryside.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Make it Rain

That's right, typhoon season has kicked off with a bang this year thanks to Typhoon Marakot. This begs the question: who names these things? Well, after some digging I found that here in "typhoon country", we owe our curious storm names to the Typhoon Committee, a group of meteorologists hailing from 14 Asian/ Pacific countries. The names are apparently not chosen with an emphasis on the people variety, and seem mostly to be natural plants, animals, phenomena, etc. The names added to the list by the Japanese members of the committee, for example, are from constelations. Marakot means "emerald" in Thai. The name seems strangley apropriate, considering this is pretty much what the view out my window looks like:
And after 3 whole days, I have to admit it's wearing on me. Thank gods there was a typhoon holiday Friday so that instead of suffereing the indignity of being blown into a pattern that resembles drunk scooter driving, all the while getting wet, I can relax at home and listen to the soothing sounds of a neverending downpour. The typhoon is slow this time, which is great for Taiwan, as the island has been in the grips of a near-drought for a couple months now.
Here is an image from Google Earth Thursday night when the typhoon was still fun and interesting (please disregard my sorely inaccurate approximation of the location of Taiwan and focus rather on the fact that you can't see Taiwan under all that cloud):And here is an update for Saturday night, after the typhoon has become one big, post-soul-crush meh in my life:So yes, I meant it when I said that my dear friend Emerald has come from a brisk swim out at sea only to crawl all over Taiwan and Eastern China. And since I've run out of enlightening or humorous observations, I'll wrap things up with a couple of videos I made to document the carnage earlier today:

This is the stuff indoor plants' nightmares are made of.

All this bad weather is making me think about comfort food. And I'm starting to wonder, what am I supposed to do with the money that I've saved for a rainy day? Maybe in a place of such extreme precipitation, we have to face that we've really just been saving for a rainy day pizza delivery.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Linguo Head Trauma

I have a friend who is about to move from the States to China to teach, so I thought it would be appropriate to write him a Chinese message on his facebook "wall". I wanted to send a thoughtful message, one that would both make him excited about the strange journey ahead as well as impart a bit of sage wisdom that would ease any foreigner's transition to Chinese life. This proved difficult as I am mostly a wellspring of, well, that which cannot rightly be called wisdom, but I remembered some advice that was kindly bestowed upon me in my early days of Taiwanese life. The piece of advice was this:

"一晚睡覺多少" 不是 "一婉水餃多少"。 你不要被打!
This advice is a quite humourous illustration of the perils of using the wrong "tones" when pronouncing your Chinese words. The quoted parts are pronounced thusly:
(1) yī wăn shuì jiào duō shăo
(2) yī wăn shuĭ jiăo duō shăo

Notice that the only difference is your vocal inflection when pronouncing shui jiao. However, the meanings are
(1) "How much (money) to sleep (with you) one night?"
(2) "How much (money) for a plate of dumplings?"

And the end of my "wall post" simply says "Don't get smacked!" I believe this to meet the above advice qualitifications nicely. The recipient can garner many snippets of wisdom such as how to solicit prostitution, that there is some kind of dumpling that is presumably a popular food in China, and that not unlike American restraunteurs, the Chinese counterparts are likely to smack you for soliciting prostitution. On top of all this is a stark example of the hardships of speaking a tonal language. The recipient may begin to foresee the frustration that he inevitably faces when using all the right "words," but still not being understood for want of correct "tones". Perhaps this will initiate some last-minute Chinese language cramming to attempt to stave off avoidable communication disasters. Whatever the usefullness of my advice (or lack thereof), I believe the funniest part of all of this is the Google translation said friend is likely to be staring at soon, as I don't think he can read Chinese yet. Here it is:
"How much sleep a night," instead of "how much of a dumpling-wan." You will not be beat!
Ahh computer translator, there is truly no end to the LOLs you provide. I can only hope that in China, it will be how much he sleeps and not how many dumplings he eats that renders my friend unbeatable!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of the best things about being a Westerner in a foreign land is the endless opportunities for hilarious interactions with children. When I walk down the street and cross paths with a group of kids, the excitement of the kids can manifest itself in different ways. Sometimes they will vie for my attention by using the first English phrases that come to mind - almost always self introductions. Sometimes though, and especially if they are older and the number of kids is smaller, they will instinctively look to the funniest kid in the group to spontaneously do something outrageous in my vicinity. Obviously their interest is getting a laugh out of the spectacle: look at how stupid Sam is being! Look at the foreigner's reaction! But the obvious side effect is free entertainment for the foreigner.

I don't know whether or not I can rightfully take credit for the stupid action I was recently witness to, but I'll do so anyway so as to make the story a perfect example. Sunday morning I woke up early due to my residual jet lag and decided to go for a swim at the beach. It was my good fortune I took my camera with me (honest to gods I picked it up on my way out the door out of fidelity to you, dear readers) too, because after exhausting myself in the water, I emerged to see some local teenagers making with the funny business. I had previously noted the peculiarity of their presence and age inappropriate behavior upon my arrival - as it was 8am and they were wading around and throwing sand at each other. This stunt, however, was truly unexpected:
I'll just assume for my sanity that they were riding stolen bikes and were still awake from a rollicking Saturday night of hooliganism. Though in a land where kids go to the park at 7:00 am on Saturdays to practice their jump shot, I have to take my sanity where I can get it.