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Showing posts from July, 2008

PSB More Awesome Than Before

Welcome, foreigner! Although it's been policy to require foreigners to register residency with their local PSB for a long time now, it's probably only this year that the policy has grown some teeth, and the police have actually become insistent about enforcing it.  Just last week I found big white posters on the bulletin board by the gate of my apartment, and also on the doors to our units, marked with our police cartoon friend Jingjing (not to be confused with the Olympic panda mascot , whose name is spelled the same), giving us a friendly reminder to register at the local station for a temporary residence permit within 24 hours of the start of our stay.  And though personally so far I've been spared the intrusion, over the past several months I've been hearing stories from friends of friends who have had the police go door to door through their apartments asking to see foreigners' registration and fining those without. But what I just discovered, to my shoc

Reporters PK Bloggers

And now for some glimmering insight from a real China correspondent: Now, for the foreigners out there, here’s the No. 1 dud question to ask a Chinese person. It’s a question that will draw a blank, non-comprehending stare: “Hey, pal, tell me about your president. Is he doing a good job?” - Tim Johnson

Olympic Plant People and their Makeshift Equipment

There is a cute row of sculpted plant people engaging in various Olympic sports on display near Baishiqiao.  The artists behind the installations must have run out of time or funds by the time they decided to furnish these green creatures with actual sports equipment, to quite an amusing effect: The tennis and badminton players each have a ball and birdie respectively dangling sadly by a wire from their rackets.  I'd guess the tennis player is not actually supposed to be holding a tennis racket; he'd look much more comfortable with a kendo sword in his hands.  And I think the rifleman is aiming with something that might have been picked off a construction site across the street.

How to Interact with Foreigners, and other Olympics Propaganda

Don't be "excessive" when helping handicapped people. The diagram shows how to say "Beijing Welcomes You" in sign language. Today I happened across a new series of posters on the neighborhood propaganda bulletin boards about etiquette to be observed during the Olympics.  Olympics propaganda is not new to Beijing, nor are paternalistic slogans on how to be a "civilized" citizen, but this new series in particular caught my eye because of one poster with a list of rules for how to act around foreigners.  Always curious to understand more about Chinese behavior towards us Western folk, I stopped to take a closer look.  Most delightful was a list of eight questions Chinese are not to ask us, which if observed, would leave these curious and enthusiastic hosts with essentially nothing with which to make conversation.  Following are some translated excerpts along with photos from some of the posters: Smile When Communicating with Foreigners A Smile

Beijing's New Pajamas

One World, One Dream, One-Piece Pajama Suit Usually when an area in Beijing is fenced off for destruction, the fencing is covered with huge canvas printed with repeating pictures of greenery: woods, lakes and parks with elderly people in wheelchairs happily being pushed along brick paths by healthy role-model youths, strolling one way down the right side of the picture and then the other way back in mirror image.  "No destruction here!" said the facades.  "Only beautiful greenery!" Now as of last week they have all been uniformly replaced by coverings printed with Beijing's Olympic slogan, brightly decorated in solid rainbow colors.  There are so many construction sites and all of the coverings were replaced so quickly that it's as though the whole city slipped into a new pair of pajamas.  It doesn't seem right that it should remind me so much of pajamas, seeing as Beijing is getting ready for either a party or an important formal occasion rather t

Disaster of Red Cliff

Part I of The Battle of Red Cliff is coming out in theatres here on Wednesday, the culmination of, from what I hear, has been the most extended and expensive game of grab-ass in Chinese movie history. When I first went to see the set with the American special effects team back in December of 2006, we took a van down to Yi Xian, three hours south of Beijing, to look at three of the biggest projects requiring special effects.  One was a shallow rocky creek, which the construction department proposed to dig out to a wide rushing river, over which the special effects crew would build a bridge which was supposed to shake and collapse, and be able to reset for several takes.  Another was a full village on the side of a hill by a river which would be required to burn over and over again.  Last was two wooden ships which, in addition to listing mechanically side to side, were also required to burn over and over again. We didn't discuss the bridge effect very much that day because it w