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October, 2010

  1. And the winner is…

    October 26, 2010 by admin

    The Award for the “I really am just a loser” of all time, anywhere in the world, since the dark ages goes to Charlie Sheen. Many, many years ago I believe I felt a pang of sorry for him but after the 800th stint in rehab, domestic violence charges, trashing hotel rooms, drugs, hookers, drugs, hookers and all the best booze that your boring-TV-show-with-laugh-track earnings can buy you, he definitely gets the prize.  I would imagine it takes a lot to scare a hooker so when one of them has to lock herself in the bathroom and call security, you’re a freak.

    I just had to get that off my chest.  And now in Chinese news…

    “A 10-year-old boy miraculously survived a fall ffrom the 20th floor of an apartment building and suffered only slight inuries after landing on the roof of a car….Xiao Xaio fell out of an open window…landed on a Citroen, breaking its roof and back windshield.  His head was cushioned by a pillow on the backseat.”.

    “Local animal lovers applauded a new regulation banning animal performances at zoos and wildlife parks while an industry person said it will hurt business.  ‘It should have been issued earlier’, said Wang Ling, a local junior college student. “the animals suffer too much during training’.  The manager of the Shanghai Wildlife Park’s marketing department said, ‘If the performances are canceled, I don’t think visitors will have a good time’.”

    Huh, I guess the visitors might just have to watch animals do what animals do at the WILD LIFE PARK!

    The Shanghai 2010 Expo ends this week.  In the 6 months since the opening, they exceeded expectations of over 70 million visitors to the park!  70 MILLION!  I think I saw most of them because their tour buses always stop in Xintiandi!  I’m kind of sorry to see it all go.  I won’t mind things quieting down a bit here, I mean to a dull roar is all one could expect in Shanghai, but for millions of Chinese people and other tourists, it was a glimpse into the rest of the world’s culture, livelihood,  inspiration and invention. I, however, will never forget those Belgian fries…and of course my friend Haibao.

  2. Apples vs Oranges

    October 24, 2010 by admin

    For the second time now a cinnamon cocker spaniel, always off leash, has tangled with my dogs.  First time he went after Bernie, but today I only had Niu Niu and as soon as the dog saw us he ran after her but I was able to grab her in time.  As the dog jumped on me to get at her, I shoved it away with my leg, the dogs “Dad” never does anything but hold a sheepish grin on his face.   This time there were many people watching so in my best and rudest Mandarin I told him that next time this happens it will be HIM I kick.  He then proceeded to put his leash on his dog where I ended the conversation with “xie, xie, jerkoff!  It’s not uncommon to see Shanghainese in a loud, heated conversation but a tall, crazy-eyed American girl threatening to kick a Chinese man’s ass over his dog’s behavior just isn’t something you see here everyday.   The look of embarrassment on his face should keep the dog leashed for a while but really, who knows.  And you know, these kinds of things happen everywhere, but I do have to mention that the Chinese dogs in general are very behaved and well socialized. But it got me thinking about the differences of living in Shanghai vs. the US and how you can take a city and build a bunch of skyscrapers, a subway, contemporary museum throw in a Starbucks, Cartier, Hermes, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Apple Store and it still ain’t New York…or Paris…or Istanbul.  THIS IS CHINA and so it should be and these cities really shouldn’t be compared.  Yes, people are people, but our cultures, food, art, history, government, etc make us different and that is what makes this world interesting, a wonderful place to explore and where there’s always something new to be learned.  Anyhoo, the bright side of this man/dog confrontation is that I realized my Mandarin is better than I thought!

    Ken and I bought some books recently and he started in on Ted Kerasote’s, Merle’s Door, Lessons from a freethinking dog, and I grabbed David Sideris’ newest, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: a modest bestiary.  My book was a super-fast read (and probably not for everyone) and Ken kept telling me how great his book was and how I was going to love it so I started sneaking it.  He finally just said, “you take it and give it back to me when you’re done”.   Well, I just finished it (as well as a box of tissues mind you) and it was an amazing read.  While there’s informative and interesting material on dogs and such, it’s so much more than that.  The author was open and honest about his life, personal details and relationships, I just can’t say enough about this book, it was lovely.

    Here’s a picture of Lu Lu, a mini-pin, who lives with her dad in Zhamadian China and has been making the internet rounds because of her ability to walk like a real lady which she apparently started all on her own.  However that teddy bear she’s carrying is a joke, a lady like that needs a nice Chanel bag on her arm.

    (photo by Rex Features)

  3. Free your mind

    October 17, 2010 by admin

    When I was in the 2nd grade I went to school wearing one of those maxi skirts that was in fashion at the time.  Mine was patchwork, but that is not the point.  The point is that I forgot to put on underwear that morning and spent the entire at day at school MORTIFIED that someone would find out.  I mean, what kind of girl would they think I was?  Instead of my usual tetherball match or game of dodgeball at lunch I sat on a bench at the farthest corner from any pupil and prayed to God to please end this day early by some sort of natural disaster.  I guess I have that “hyper-sensitivity-to-embarrassment gene”  thing.   Later on when I was a sophomore in high school I was standing in the crowded quad area at lunch and this senior boy, the popular, football star no less, comes right up to me and in front of his friends (and the rest of the world), grabs both my breasts.  Did I run to the principal? Did I slap him across the face?  Call Gloria Allred? Oh no.  I ran home after school crying to my mother and blaming her for my big boobs.  And what, pray tell, does this have to do with China?  Well, I think that after living here a year I may finally have been cured of this.  The Chinese don’t have this so-called gene, they just do what they do and go about their lives.  You want to wear your sequined dress at 10am?  Your pajamas to the bank?  Tell someone they’ve gotten fat?  Wear high heels to the gym?  Hold your best friend’s hand and skip to the loo my darlin’, you go right ahead because nobody here is going to give you the side-eye or second look.  I can finally be free to be me.  Now if only I still had that patchwork maxi skirt.

    Speaking of being free…a wonderful day at the only REAL, leash-free dog park in Shanghai.

  4. Tennis Anyone?

    October 16, 2010 by admin

    The ATP Shanghai Masters started this week and we went last night to check out a few matches.  Lucky for us the two matches we caught were Nadal vs. Melzer and Federer vs. Seppi.  The Nadal Melzer match was very interesting because it’s very unlikely to see two “lefties” playing each other (Nadal lost).  Federer, God of all things tennis, is like watching a ballet dancer, astonishing strength with so much grace.

    But the highlight of the night was watching the chinese ballboys and ballgirls.  They have so much energy and enthusiasm but they must be scared to death being on the same court with Nadal and Federer.  One ballboy got hit in the chest because instead of grabbing for the ball, he went for Federer’s towel first.  The girls look like they’ve never played a sport in their life, totally uncoordinated, flustered and really adorable.  They were so much fun to watch I had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the tennis match.

  5. Arrivederci Roma

    October 13, 2010 by admin

    If you hate historical architecture, paintings by Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, beautiful clothes and amazing wine there are still two good reasons to visit Rome…food and food.  Which would explain why I could barely button my jeans over the newly formed muffin top around my waist.  Jogging through the Borghese gardens, tracing the emperor’s footsteps through the Forum and Coloseum and endless walks from the Spanish Steps to Trastevere to the Vatican City still couldn’t burn through all the bread, cheese, pasta, aged meats and pizza quattro formaggio I consumed (that I washed down with wine).  After 5 days in Rome we drove south to Puglia, the “heel of the boot” only to discover another lovely land of fine food and wine.  The Puglia region lies between two beautiful coasts, the Ionian and the Adriatic sea and running down the center are waves of vineyards, olive trees, fruit trees and farmland dotted with Trulli houses, unique to this area.  We stayed in the center of the two coasts, a short distance to both, at the  Villa San Martino in the town of Martina Franca.  It’s a 5 minute drive just outside the city center in a beautiful neighborhood and has one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest.

    A roman bride, complete with her Marie Antoinette purple explosion gown

    The zoo at the Villa Borghese

    Like clowns and mimes, these things scare me

    Piazza de Spagna

    Inside St. Peter’s Basilica

    The outside of St. Peter’s (but mostly I wanted to capture the shaded goddess posing in front)

    The Arch of Constantine

    La Dolce Vita at the Trevi Fountain


    Monopoli, Adriatic Coast

    Inside the Grotte de Castellana

    Ionian Sea


    My next car

  6. This just says it all

    October 10, 2010 by admin

    I took this picture while driving through a lovely, small, seaside town in southern Italy called Monopoli.  While it IS important to be reminded not to drive off the road and into the ocean, this sign is more of a reflection of my mental state after more than two weeks of traveling in 4 different time zones and a bagillion plane rides.  It was an amazing time, incredible really, but it’s sure great to be home, in Shanghai, and back with Bernie and Niu Niu.   When I’m able to pull my eyelids up again and complete at least one sentence in either English or Mandarin, I will post some travel pics before returning to my musing mandarin journal.  Until then, zzzzzzzz.