Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kung -fu Panda

With my wonderful connections to the people at Henan Channel 9, I got to see the media Pre-release of Kung-fu Panda 2. It was in Chinese... and Chinese voice actors are not any where near as good as English speaking ones. Still had some flavah though, so im most definitely gonna see that deranged peacock again in English.

I was pleased. I wasn’t expecting much. There was a whole new avenue (done before in “real” kung-fu movies, but still nice) that they took, and i felt they did a good job of making it “awesome.”

It was interesting in some sense, because the story tracks Po’s change from his kinda blah kung-fu to realizing the value of Taichi. Instead of being all hard (which he isn’t anyway) accept the soft as well. It also finally answers the question of “why is his dad a duck?”

Though, like most good stories, it got my dander up, and I have been spending the rest of the day on overdrive trying to figure out the meaning of my life. Even im tired of that line of thought~ but its part of what makes me me.

Anyhow - I went to the bathhouse in an attempt to get myself to chill out and stop being so hopped up on potential for the future. Didn’t work. Hot, Hot, Hot - did not get me to that stage where I could let myself go. I over-heated faster than usual.

And then I headed to the cold pool.

I’ve heard of Cold showers before and they’re magical uses for the overly hormonal (who isnt...). This time though, it had a different use. I was mentally in overdrive, and once I settled in after the initial shock of being in a warm room and having been in hot water, going into rather brisk water, my mind finally went still.


I know I haven’t written in a while. Im sorry for the lack of contact (that and something is up with my computer so my microphone is currently out of commission... very frustrating... especially without a genius bar at the apple store to solve my problems.)

I’ve been in a doldrums stage. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “the doldrums” where/ are a situation/period of time where there is no wind in the particular area of sea where sailors are. When you have a sailboat... thats a problem... It was a time known to drive people insane! And with good reason. The feeling of not moving forward when you are supposed to be moving forward is vexing.

I thought that was where I was because I didn’t have what I though should be measurable and observable growth.

The cold water though helped me to realize something (can you tell I like metaphor?)

The old chinese idea of Yin and Yang (the white black circle thingy) is all about balance~ and I think im at the Yin stage (negative/female).

I’ve had so much growth in a variety of arenas, I think this stage im at is more reflective and reevaluating. I’m constantly reflecting and reevaluating, thats one of my favourite pass-times, which is why I think this took me by surprise.

This kind of reflection isn’t the kind im used to. I’m used to using the past as a way to move forward (future), but I think I need to use the past to deal with now (present). Its small semantic distinction which is part of why I think i’ve been missing the point.

Here and Now

Current events:

I am going to be on a “sketch” (like a small show as a part of a larger show for Henan channel 9).

My other show with Channel 9 is being put on hiatus while the station waits for official paper work to go through to make me a legal part of their operation... something foresight once again did not reveal. It’ll be a month or two.

So - that will mean life will be different

Also different, most of my friends are disappearing from Zhengzhou for the summer. People are moving on, or going out of town. Aussie buddy at work is going to Australia for about a month (June). Oklahoman friend and his wife are going to Beijing for about 2 months to go work on his Chinese, which im glad for: I need more white buddies who can speak Chinese ~ for frill and vanity’s sake. American friend - going back to America.. etc

Am I depressed: no. Ask me in a month or so... but not yet.

I think right now is part of the reflecting stage. Its gonna be a bit more introverted, but that seems to be the trend.

I dont feel like traveling too much. I do want to go see the great wall finally, but maybe that’ll be when I go visit my friends in Beijing when they go...

I think its just an autumn period where I get to look back on what i’ve learned and put it into practice.

I finished the reading the bible through a few months ago, and I find myself purposefully in the OT again. How odd is that ~ wouldn’t have done that before now. I find myself thoroughly infatuated with King David.

He had himself an action packed life. Theres no way he could have foreseen everything that happened to him - hence all the divination that man was doing. I think its funny that people get sooooo choked up about spirituality and consulting the supernatural, to the point that we dont even recognize that a lot of the old testament “seeking of God” was done through some VERY non-modern non-conservative fashions. But thats a topic for hopefully non-boring theologians to “unpack” as one of my teachers would say.

He had to take his life day by day, or he wouldnt have made it. He’d have died from ulcers or something waaaay before his time. He put his life in God’s hands and lived a life of - let me honour you and lead your people to honour you aswell. I think thats why I’m infatuated with him right now. He’s a ghosty bada** who wreaks havoc on the infidel, he purposefully sought out the will of God and made himself the little piece of metal in the middle of the compass, and still had personality. Though I’m not interested in quite so many concubines ~ thank you very much.

I’m back in 2nd Samuel... which oddly enough has no Samuel in it, because he dies half-way through 1st Samuel... go figure, trying to find out more.

In this, the autumn of my exile stage (5-6 months until I return home for my first visit in 2 years 3/4ths there... autumn...) I’m going to take a chance to breathe and study my butt off so that I can be at a more stable level in Mandarin. I’m getting to the point where I can “settle in”, so I just need to go IN now and stop staying on the fringes.

Theres so much more to say, but I don’t think im ready to say it.

Love you all regardless, and I hope you’re doing well in your own journey. There’s no rest for the weary, but there might be a nice gentle stream with a canoe in it somewhere... just saying.


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Passion - if it doesn’t have an environment to burn in, it’ll burn you instead. Will you put it out?

I won’t


Slightly random, but I’ll share anyway. I think dreams are fascinating. I did some reading on sleep and what not a while ago when I was getting sick repeatedly, and thinking sleep might be part of my issue. Evidently the layers of sleep are quite different. The one in which you most often dream, also called the REM cycle, is restorative for one’s mind. The layer people refer to as “deep sleep” is usually a non-dreaming layer, but is restorative to the body.

The cue for that little tid-bit is my nap-taking habits. I am a proud, card-carrying member of the cat-nappers guild. I usually set my alarm for 20 minutes, fall asleep and wake up before my alarm goes off. Sometimes I even dream. Actually - fairly frequently. I think it is interesting, because REM sleep is generally a layer of sleep that takes a while to get to. I have gone through phases where I dont think I spend hardly any time in the REM phase and I wake up psychologically stagnant. I dunno if these naps are jumping straight into the REM layer like an infant (from my brief reading, infants evidently spend most of their time in the REM layer, whereas adults usually only spend about 20-25% of their sleep time in this layer), of if I just have some quirk where I frequently dream outside of the REM layer. I think the earlier explanation is more likely... I always was a weird one. That would also explain why I take such short naps and wake up ready to take on the world after 10 minutes or less of semi-to-un-conciousness. Anything longer than 30 minutes just destroys the rest of my day.

Food for thought...

I love thinking... my students dont...


The point of that whole interlude was a lead into vision/passion.

Passion is something that we love to talk about in the West right? Everyone is looking for “theirs.” To not have one is in many ways looked down on. Here in China, Passion can go both ways. If it leads you to becoming rich and/or famous (preferably “and”) then its great. But without the function, passion is viewed as a socially destructive element. Shoot, you should hear some of the views on video games. They even put my mother’s fervor to shame. :D

But my focus for this letter is in many ways a question, which i’ll be getting to in a moment. I think its another piece in one of the lines of reasoning I was looking into earlier.

In my point of view, I think passion is a lot like fire. It has the same creative and destructive potential. Think of all the glorious range of experiences we are afforded because of fire: which do you prefer - golden-brown recently roasted cheese on top of pizza or room temperature sweaty cheese on top of cold bread. Bread itself... does it even stand to the question of which is better? Fresh from the oven, or a day later? hmmm.

Then there’s the family that is forced to rearrange their lives because of fire, possibly even coping with the loss of a member if circumstances are unfortunate enough. The years of history and artifacts that people lived with, all gone and tossed to the wind. Forest fires: decades of growth erased, ecosystems completely rearranged if not erased, and aside from the pine-tree/pine cone that thrives on such depressing affairs, there isn’t a whole lot of hope from the events themselves.

But it is necessary to an extent.

I’ll look for a reference for you if you want, but when I was reading Ecclesiastes I read something that went to the effect of: sadness is good for the heart. I’ve always agreed with that for myself, and I generally agree with that in many applications. So long as it ends up turning around at some point. Sadness makes you appreciate the good so much more. A little bitterness helps you to appreciate love. Rain helps you appreciate the sun. Being sick causes you to reevaluate how important health is....and forever on down the road from there.

In an earlier blog I asked for your opinion on whether or not everyone had some sort of drive. Are people doomed to what some of us consider the mundane, or do they have the drive beaten out of them?

Let me add something else into the mix:

Since I was young I’ve asked God to give me something that I could pursue and burn for. I catch glimpses of it here and there, but much less than what it IS, I know a lot more that it is in fact there.

The way I know there is something else for me, is that it hurts not to have it.

My sister has a degree in psychology, so I hear all sorts of interesting terms like “self-fulfilling prophesy.” I don’t know if I understand it, but I think it means something that happens because you MADE it happen, and then you claim it as being something bestowed upon you by the environment. Basically you pretend to give yourself a divine mandate (like ALL the English Kings of history.... retards.)

So to be honest, I do have times when I worry about creating my own self-fulfilling prophesy, at which point I might be chasing clouds for the entirety of my life. But not chasing those clouds sounds much worse. Who wants to leave the matrix? If outside that dream chasing is only a cold truth with no way out? Why should we find it? Screw that, thank you very much. I have to believe in hope. It wouldn’t be worth it otherwise.

But, and theres always one (or two) of those, as I said earlier there is a destructive end to passion. Without something to feed passion, I think the passion itself burns those who have it. SHOOT! Have you ever seen West Side Story?!!

So it hurts, its socially destructive, and CERTAINLY destabilizing (no wonder China dislikes it). Is it worth it? Some say no, at which point you have to put out the fire so it stops burning you.

And then there’s me. I wouldn’t last without my fire. It hurts, but I need it. Its part of what defines me.

PS - dont watch “Sucker Punch”. Its hopeless. OR it tries at hope and leaves you dejected, because their concept of hope is everyone is either dead or empty, aside from a side character... Hopeless. Made me terribly angry for the rest of the day, until the blood of the vine and some good conversation got to me that is.


OH and let me fill you in on the current work situation, because thats obviously a permanent fixture in my “goings ons” here.

Boss threw a tantrum, so I got free advertising for our company each time I go on TV. Informed her and instead of replying to me, she sent an intermediary to get more information... what kind of advertising... are you getting paid?!! etc.

nonsense... and then afterwords, filling out an official report form related to meeting, I was told that the company is very happy for me...

Oh really... I have foul things to say about that. Oh wait - i’ve said them ^_^.

I’ve also been told by my friend, the boss of the teacher’s division at the IELTS center, that he was asked to translate into English an application form regarding foreign teachers extracurricular activities... and that the form involves something about my company saying I need to collect any pay recieved from the TV station... through our accounting department. The only reason I can see that that would have any use is that the company wants to siphon off a part... again... horse sh**.

Im not enjoying being tossed around like a 3 foot horse-jockey. Am I Italian?! I think not - now sod off.

That sort of operation has nothing to do with the negotiations I had at the contract signing four-and a half months ago.

Trying my patience... and my concept of tolerance is getting rather flexible... which is not always a favourable thing for flippant and ill-managed infidels.



Im currently enthralled by the concept of Jealousy. First off its rampant in China. Boy meets girl, other girl meets boy - jealousy. English school hires foreigner, foreigner talks to other chinese people, jealousy. Foreigner trades schools venomous jealousy that evidently washes away with time (my spies tell me that my previous boss would be interested in having me back... hmmm). Foreigner goes on TV for a new experience which is completely unrelated to English... in anyway: Vendetta grade jealousy. Granted, with this certain overgrown and over-permed juvenile ranking in at 40 years old, its also likely to wash away very quickly as long as the issue is addressed.

Im going to record again tomorrow. A key element will be me addressing the need to do some mild advertising for my company so that I can flip this problem on its head and become my boss’s conquering hero... ridiculous.

Anyhow. Aside from business related jealousy, I think there are much more normal and fodder for musical related themes of jealousy. Goodness every time I watch a chinese movie, or absently end up watching Chinese TV - someone is either killing them selves or killing someone else out of impassioned jealousy.

Goodness - people just dont know how to play the game. I think jealousy to me is so interesting and at the same time vexing, because it shows a complete lack of willingness to “let go.” Jealousy is the opposite of growth and creativity. Jealousy is (to me) an attempt to kill snow white so that you can be the fairest one of all. Its not like you really are the fairest, you just rank highest in whats left. Oh look, you’re king or queen of the dung-heap or frankenstein’s (monster’s) bride. (Take that Mr. Cavalli... I DO remember that frankenstein isn’t actually the monster’s name SHAZAM!)

Instead of wanting/being willing to make something better, its a desire to tear down. Its like the rusty blood encrusted barb-wire that tears open a deer on its way to the mountain top.

I hate it. With all the cold and bitter disdain that it deserves. I hardly think about it and the corners of my mouth curl like I just realized I gnawed on some mouldy pizza.

So I looked it up in Chinese:

The first two hits in my internet search I thought were really insightful. There was a listing for “possessive” and a listing for “envy”. You can also say that you’re eating vinegar, and it gets the same point across.

Well lets just say woman is stamped all over this one... no seriously... look.

女 is woman and 嫉 , 妒 are the characters in jealousy. if you look to the left of either character, there “she” is, like a wicked little sorority.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for hurt, betrayal and to some degree even entitlement, but I think jealousy takes indignation and just turns it into something that is ill-manifested and with a wrecking ball of an end-game plan.

Hope becomes a joke. I think thats what Im trying to get at. There is no up, just down, and I honestly don't think its worth it if there is no more up. Which is why I think I get kind of nasty and defensive within my dark little self when I see jealousy spring up.

Makes me wanna put on my spiderman underpants and go to town on injustice.

(should probably get some spiderman underpants first... to be prepared... taking all votes on the type of superhero underpants Pedro should have.)


WHOOOO! I did it. And I didn’t die!

For those of you who are just checking in. My adventure of the past week has been... exhausting for starters. Aside from that - I been preparing for and recently just recorded a segment discussing movies for Henan TV. Evidently, its viewable by roughly half of China.

I am astonished with how fast I spoke... and the fact that I could roll with as much language contact as I did... and on camera for the first time.

Ok ill be honest - I’m not afraid of a camera or people... but it does add a certain kind of crunch factor.

However, the way I see it - I just bought myself braggin’ rights for most ballzy act for a while

If you can cap - “I went on TV and discussed movie content in my second language after a year and a couple months of studying - lemme know.” and don’t give me any of that “I’ve given birth to five children shookum.” The only person who can pull that card is my aunt... and thats cause she got the baker’s dozen of children. Definite win there.

Honestly, I haven’t worked that hard to prepare for anything in about 6-7 months.

I translated documents, I watched the content movies, I met, had coffee and discussed content and I wrote out my general responses to the questions I anticipated, which came out to being 1,417 words long... in Chinese... I didn’t know I could do that... probably because I’d just never done it, but thats aside from the point!

I got up - did some reading, did some considerate studying of the content and compiled my answers.

I ate La Mian (拉面)

I got dressed - in the outfit i’d planned the day before: no blue and limited black.

Instead of riding my bike as tradition dictates, I didn’t want to risk getting hit by a car, and or being late... even though I left like 45 minutes early for something that takes about 10-15 minutes of travel... taxi I found and taxi I rode. My friends were also super 认真 “diligent and attentive to responsibility” and actually beat me there... and we were all like a half hour early.

We waited around for a little bit and admired my shiny boots and delicious tie not that the boots matter when your sitting down... but they did look nice

One of the TV station workers I had dinner with originally came and got us, walked us down the street, and as soon as I was beginning to think that we might be going to “Pirate TV Central” to advertise rocket launchers and other terrorism supplies, I saw a building with the official Henan TV logo and what not and was a bit more at ease.

We went up to their office, I met some folks, got interviewed for the newspaper (turning into a regular old package deal eh?)

I showed my prep materials to the host, and he was jazzed about the content (frankly I was impressed with me for doing it and actually being able to write that much... should have had it peer-edited....ok no peers...Chinese who can communicate with me via various media potentially including flannel graph and or interpretive dance.)

My host friend had his hair done up all Chinesy like and some sort of “foundation” to make him whiter. Evidently they are under the impression that his dark skin next to my white on Camera would be somewhat unsettling. Sure, fine, y’all’s show.

We talked for a while and prepared for the show doing a few run-throughs and I answered some questions from the reporter friend of theirs who came to do a story on me. (WOO! Oriental Daily, page 17 ^_^ )

The time finally came and we headed up to the top floor where the filming set was. It was just like a theater set... dirty everywhere aside from the filming section and “green screen” backdrop (it was blue....)

There were some awkward barstools and a table like something out of a 20’s soda fountain diner.

We ran through several takes, and they gave me pointers here and there. I think the biggest preoccupation was... what do I do with my hands when I’m sitting down... and where the bump do I look? There were two cameras, but I didn’t want to give them the death-stare or anything along those lines.

Eventually it came to an end with survivable levels of embarassment and irrevocable actions that may or may not give me a heart attack someday. (do I have a nervous twitch?)

We got back to the office, I got my lovely vase. Its a Henan specialty (glaze technique...) that dates back a LONG time. Much longer than that crazy white and blue stuff that everyone is obsessed with/ Daryn hates.

The boss extended his appreciation for my work and expressed his desire that I come back to do the show on a regular basis. I also got a sheet of prepaid movie tickets. Pretty jazzy i’d say. Aside from one thing.

Evidently it was the plan all along that it be a regular thing, and my host/filming friends hadn’t really gotten a chance to breach the subject quite yet. Needless to say, this yielded a fairly awkward situation. I bought some time with vague answers etc, and my host friend and I discussed it over dinner.

It was a wholesome heart to heart... I got to describe what “the white monkey dance” is, and how I had no interest in being a part of one, particularly on film, unless it was mutually beneficial.

For example, I don’t want a room full of vases by the end of this little adventure... Money isn’t so much a huge need as it is a symbol... that im not just a pet, but a valued member of the broadcast in more ways than just, “Dance Whitey! Yah... nice... look at how fluently flawed he speaks our language.. hehehe”

That was good enough, and I really do like the growth potential of the experience. Its another insert into Chinese culture that I wouldn’t get to experience otherwise. Its a great way to learn more about Chinese movies, and I cannot express just how much Chinese in the process of preparing: Oodles. Oh look, I expressed it.

I sent little thank you texts to my friends for coming, and asked what I could do better. How do you really answer that question though? I’m interested to see the edited version to decide what I can do better.

Anyhow - one of my friends was super jazzed about watching some of the movies we discussed, so I took my copies of them down to her and we talked for a while. I was asked if I wanted to be a teacher for a long time... and I think we all know the answer to that. She said that I had “heaven piece” (my Chinglish for natural talent) for that kind of position and that she thought.

I’ve been told I have an awesome phone voice before. Thats a pretty bangin’ compliment i’d say.

We’ll see.



Saw myself on TV yesterday, and bought two copies of the newspaper with my article in it. HAH!

It was interesting to me because the whole experience kinda threw me into a sour spree where I was in an increasingly foul mood over about a 3 day period. I went to sleep one night and woke up the next day with my foul mood remaining... not a good sign. I was worried I was gonna murder some of my super negligent and retarded students.

And I had the dilemma, do I tell my boss?

First class was fairly good - glad I like them, no teeth related beheadings. I actually liked them enough... and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, so I told them that I made it onto TV as (inspiration) to speak english as much as possible so that they too can improve at ridiculous speeds hahaha. Yes... I do know the word for narcissistic in Chinese... its been used on me on a few occasions. 自恋 (zi4lian4)

Lunch came and I found my article.

WOw did I brighten right up. My whole school was alight with my new-found fame. Its lovely to bask in that kinda glory I must say. It made surviving the afternoon class of cosmic retards possible.

Instead of being TOOO transparent, I decided to send my boss the following text: (translated from Chinese for your convenience)

“Your marketing department should be very happy. Please buy today’s “Oriental Daily” and look at page A17.”

She called me. Asked me what it meant.... and I told her that she should buy the paper and find out. BLah blah blah - flapping lips, and click.

I don’t think she bought it, because I got no feedback until the next day (today).

She didnt call me... she called the Chinese manager of the school branch I was working at... good thing we’re friends or i’d probably have had to listen to boring and terribly unimpressive speech.

What I know from the conversation is - she’s not happy I went on TV. She’s under the impression that I’m not supposed to do any other form of work while I am a full-time teacher at her school. She wants to know if I got paid for doing it. etc.

The manager she talked to told me that she thought it was a great marketing opportunity for the school.

Regardless... She’s irritated... and if she calls me to do dinner this evening, I shan’t be going because she’s irritated me with her tomfoolery.

I think its funny that I end up coming to blows with the top level of management at each of the schools I work at. I should never have learned how to haggle the Chinese way, because thats really all I’m doing.

This could go a number of directions:

She sees reason and gets over her oppressive jealousy and uses the opportunity as the marketing miracle that it is...

She tries to impress some sort of punishment on me for disloyalty. Any sass of this sort would not be tolerated by yours truly...

She forgets all about it in the next 24-48 hours because she is capricious as all get out.

She tries to get rid of me... which is logistically a joke as far as her company is concerned. She would lose massive amounts of money from irritated students who would no longer be getting a foreign teacher’s instruction at the intervals they paid for.


I’ve got my contingency plans. And i’d be more than willing to go to Taiwan...

I have no intention of being a caged white monkey.