tasty bytes from China

February 2012
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I now pronounce you man and mayhem
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:25 pm


What could be the noisiest, smokiest unruly event you may
attend in China?

A wedding of course!

What is this ceremony like, might you ask?Imagine the union of the crowd at a Greyhound bus terminal mingling
with the rambunctious cast of one of those Bridezilla shows.  The dress code, in typical Chinese fashion, includes everything. The bride was wearing  a cinderella like gown while her parents  were clad in traditional chinese jackets. And oh yes, the mother of the bride proudly wore a pink baseball cap.

Now Jeff expectsto wear to future nuptials.  


But parents of the bride are the same in any country. The mother’s
eyes hold back crocodile tears, while the father somberly thinks  to himself, “How and I going to pay for all of

Lots of the matrimonial chaos is caused because it’s the union of two
worlds: City acquaintances are gathering with village folk. They are as out of
place in Kunming as a page of Nat Geo is in Vogue magazine.


This is one of usually three Chinese wedding
ceremonies: the bride and groom will also go to the home towns for repeat

But instead of giving guests miniature cups filled with
assorted nuts and pastel pillow mints, guests get peanuts and cigarettes, which
you are welcome to light up during the ceremony.
And they did.


In return, guests bringing small red envelopes filled with
money in lieu of blenders and other gifts selected from a  bridal registry list.

The ceremony was held in a hotel banquet room  so with waiters bringing out plates of food as
the bride and groom finished their vows.  They brought out bowls of thick long noodles
mixed with a dark firey sauce and strips of cham
(Chinese spam), but no cake.

About three and a half hours after you took your sit, the
ceremony is over. It’s picture taking time.


Many wedding pictures in Kunming are taken at Lake Dianchi,
the big resort lake on the south side of the town. Brides and brides to be and
brides that have been rent dresses for a day and take photos to put on their
invitations or framed on their walls. You can rent these dresses almost
anywhere short of a public toilet.

I’m tempted to rent a dress myself. On the 18th of April, Jeff and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. We are planning on renewing our vows at the school where Jeff overseas as principal, inviting 150 of our shortest friends.

 However, smoking will not be allowed. Rumor has it that
cigarettes can stunt ones growth.



Ode to the Weinsteins
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:36 pm


Jeff and I have probably the biggest DVD collection
is China. Since it’s bootleg, we maybe have a couple hundred bucks sunk into

But if purchased in America, this same
collection would be worth… er…uh…roughly three and a half million dollars.

Which is why last week, Jeff and I finally
broke down and got a new Sony TV, lighting our home with 36 inches of LCD color.

Mind you, our previous television was a pre-flat
antique from the nineties.

Along with realizing that Bart Simpson is not
pink, we’re now able to view our DVD collection in high definition brilliance.

Which brings me to the theme of this post, the

Who are these guys, you might ask?

The Weinstein Group, or TWC, is an American film studio founded by Bob and Harvey
Weinstein. And unbeknown to Bob and Harvey,
there is someone in their multi-gazillion
dollar company with sticky fingers.
sneaky, unethiccal employee will send one pristine copy of a newly released
movie to the country without copyright laws or Direct TV.

You guessed it, China.

That Weinstein weenie allows a person like me,
who is 7,894 miles away from $6 tubs of buttery popcorn and rows of red seats,
to see a movie as good as I’d see in Chicago. But there is one small caveat.
Every twenty minutes or so, the words “PROPERTY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY. NOT FOR
DISTRIBUTION” will scroll across the bottom of the screen.

Almost as good as the Weinstein bootlegs, are
DVDs from our “FOR SAG VIEWING ONLY” selection.
 One recent release came with a  new and improved movie trailer for the Screen
Actors Guild board to peep.

Well, I give both the film and the trailer two
thumbs up.

Now if you don’t get a SAG or
Weinstein bootleg, you get the bad kind. There will undoubtedly be a
person standing up in the middle of the movie or giggling at an inapproriate time, as in Mission Impossible 4:Ghost Protocol. This bad bootleg his China before Tom Cruise hit the big screen in Kunming, running from bad guys in Dubai with his signature R
ock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot stride.

Last week, we watched a documentary on
bootlegging in Asia (of course on a bootlegged Asian
 DVD). The reporter risked his life in a dark
alley in Hong Kong to buy the first seven seasons of Jerry Seinfeld.

In Kunming, bootlegging –just like toddlers peeing
and women spitting–is an out in the open spectacle.
 You can watch DVD shop owners put hot copies from
the duplicating machine into cool Blue Ray tins, just like the Cinnabon® lady at a food court putting sticky buns in a box.  

And who buys all of these knowingly illegal

Undercover Christians, of course!

But whoever you are at the Weinstein Company who
makes these DVDs possible, I want to thank you. I also want to thank the sticky
fingers at SAG for your undercover work. I also want to thank members of the
Academy, just because I always wanted to. 

I hope you never lose your job, ever.  If I knew your snail mail address, I’d send
you a Target Gift Card or something.   

Thank you for making life bearable in China.

If you want to copy this post, be my guest.



comments (0)
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Not in Asia.
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 5:49 pm

 It’s one thing to be a dumb blonde, it’s a totally other thing to be a dumb Asian.


Okay, this is my second year teaching in Asia, mostly
tweenagers in our school’s English language immersion program.  English is their second or third language. Keep
in mind each language has its own alphabet, grammar rules and unique phonic

Education is actually valued here.

 I feel like such a
hypocrite correcting a student who forgot to add “the” before a noun, when I
can’t even pronounce their Korean or Chinese name. Most students take
on English names so teachers like me appear smarter than our American education.

Get real, how do you pronounce Ng?  It sounds like a partial gargle.

I can’t rip students a new binger for misusing a past
perfect progressive verb when after twenty-five years as a writer, I have no
clue what a p3 was…or er uh, is. 

Is a p3 a new app for an i-pod?

Granted, I used the past perfect progressive verb tense correctly
writing jingles and all, but I didn’t know it had a special name, just like the
plastic tip of a shoelace (by the way, it’s called a fob).


After  school, students
usually have sessions with private language tutors or practice the piano,
violin or cello. What do I do? Plug in a KING OF QUEENS dvd.

I have one adorable student who is Frinese. She is French
Chinese blend, fusing together rolled “r”s and Chinese tones into the English
language.  It’s amazing.

What language does she dream in? Eat in?

Rerunning myself, there are more students studying English in
China than what speak English in America. So a hundred years from now, Asians
will own and redefine this universal language.

 I bet the petunias on
my grave that “a”, “an” and “the” will join the ranks of  ”thou” and “thy”. Verb tenses be considered old school English, created by Americans who were so time focused, they
even had time spans for their verbs.

Meanwhile, I gave up on learning Mandarin. I figure writing
a novel would be an easier task.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Not in Asia.

 But my tune quickly
changes when I see a sign like this at Carrefour.


1 comment