Archive for March, 2008

March 28, 2008
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Filed Under (Finds) by justin

This video comes with instructions: Check them before watching.

1. Listen to the movie without watching it. This is an important step. Don’t skip it. Enjoy the old-school cheeriness. Let it wash the grime of skepticism from your body.

2. Watch the video. Be amazed at how shockingly sexy whistling has become. Try to look away. You won’t be able to.

3. Watch the video yet again and dance along.

4. Repeat step 3 as many times as you want. Don’t worry—no one is watching. And even if they were, they’d just get pulled in too.

5. Try to explain why he’s wearing a military-esque jacket. And where did he get those medals?



March 27, 2008
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Filed Under (Life) by justin

My blankie

Norms are cultural. So it wasn’t really strange for school officials to give me a pink blanket last fall. It accordingly sat next to my desk in its bag for exactly three days while I wondered who might want it. Then a closer look revealed it was not solid pink, but accented with pink flowers. And fleece. The harmonious merger of Mary Kay and Old Navy was sitting on the floor of my Chinese university.

Blankets have always gotten the better of me. Despite my spartan living habits, I picked up a blanket from the Gentrys during a summer tour through Nebraska that has, with its perfect combination of weight and compactibility, has served many a cool occasion. It accompanied me through my senior year book-bound Christmas break. It was a welcome addition to our celebration of spring in recliners on the front lawn of Armitage burning incense and passing matte. It made appearances in Man Council. It covered vast regions of the US. It sat at the foot of my bed in China for months.

Fleece has always been rather attractive to me, as well. Those of you who remember my orange Adidas sweatshirt will attest to that. And that should be most of you, as I wore it regularly for about seven years. And this blanket was soft fleece. Really soft fleece.

The problem was that I had a hard time displaying it at the foot of my bed. I’m not afraid of pink, but we’re talking serious pinkage. There was no way I was letting it go unused, though. I tossed it from chair to chair while I used it for a few days to confirm our mutual respect before finding its perfect resting place.

mcweatherIt spent the winter neatly smoothed under the comforter on my bed.

I bring this up now because I again faced the dilemma as spring turned its gaze toward Changchun. A sudden cold snap (and subsequent snowfall) secured it a few more days on my bed, and a glance at the forecast doesn’t foretell its immediate removal. But it’s going to happen soon.

Perhaps I’ll accept my animated role model’s advice and add a new sport coat to my closet.



March 25, 2008
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Filed Under (Life) by justin

Walking home from the drama club kick-off tonight, I noticed the chicken strips’ slight burn had migrated from my lips to my eyes. It was the first tangible expression of weariness I’d experienced today, but it wasn’t a surprise.

It started Sunday, with the Easter program/party/gala/pageant/extravaganza. [Never let it be said I allowed the futility of applying an American label to a distinctively Chinese experience to stop me from doing so. I mean, it’s not as if you would understand the Chinese anyway. Or I would.] Two classes, four meetings with students and friends, my designated office hours and a couple of long overdue conversations later, and I was referring to Monday in the past tense as I headed to bed. Notice I didn’t mention the lesson planning I was supposed to get done. That was what replaced eating in the free time between my three classes and drama club today.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not looking for pity. Quite the opposite, in fact—I’m sharing my happiness. It’s been a while since I’ve felt so engaged, and I’ve missed the feeling. Finding it again recalled memories of the days when I bought a Palm pilot so I didn’t have to go back to my computer to overwrite the three weekly hours of free time I’d scheduled. The previously meandering snow globs melting into my hair probably aided my remembrance too.

Few states are as rewarding as warranted enervation. I know I’m not the first to think or say it, but I feel justified in doing so anyway. Just like I felt justified in a quiet meal at my second-favorite Xinjiang restaurant after talking the last of the drama club members out of the bookstore. It was the same state that afforded me the comfortable confidence necessary to play with and practice my Chinese on the restaurant owners’ baby, disregarding the stares of the Corner Four, who had spent their entire meal discussing mine. And to top off that meal with the aforementioned chicken strips. It was my first real meal of the day, anyway.

Plus, I don’t have anything scheduled until 3:20 tomorrow. It’s a good excuse to spurn my room’s cries for cleaning, smile at the stacks of grading sprawled across my desk,  fall asleep watching a movie, and still have motivation to get up at a decent hour and make use of the day.

I kind of like this ‘life’ thing. I think I’ll earn my sleep more often.



March 19, 2008
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Filed Under (Life) by justin

Reunions are for old people. I mean, I haven’t been invited to the MBBC Class of ’07 Reunion luncheon and fundraiser. But someday I will be. I’m planning now to be poor so I don’t have to give any money. Or to be rich and powerful and have already given so much they wouldn’t dare ask for more. But I’m losing focus.

That focus was intended to be upon the reunion I just attended. I’ve just begun my second semester of teaching, and it was time to reconnect with long-lost friends. So, the Giraffes of English Essentials Summer Camp 2007: “English in the Wild” reunited for the first time since November. Those in Changchun, anyway.

It had all the elements of a successful reunion—old friends, sitting around and eating, catching up, exchanging contact info, going to dinner, expressions of vague plans for increased communication, money changing hands. One element was missed, I suppose. There were no new family members (see paragraph one).

It was good times, though. We all left, no doubt, with the same thought: Let’s not wait another four months to do this.

Things move fast in China. (video after the break) Read the rest of this entry »



March 13, 2008
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Filed Under (Finds) by justin

I read this article and immediately wanted to blog. I wanted to think of something funny and clever to say about it, but that just couldn’t happen. I mean, there is no way to top a story about a woman who grows onto her toilet. What could I say to make this story any more ridiculous?

I could spice it up by mentioning that it wasn’t even her own toilet. Or that she had sat there for two years. Or that she just wanted to be left there until she felt like leaving. Or that the medical team had to pry the seat off the toilet and leave it attached to her until they got to the hospital. Or that they blame it on her difficult childhood. Or that it happened in some rural Kansas town and became the big news in the city.

But all of that is already in the story. I suppose I just have one question.

OK, I’m single. I admit that at the outset, acknowledging my lack of understanding regarding romantic relationships. But how exactly do you end up as the boyfriend in this situation?

So many things should have prevented this. Like, how did it start? They’re both sitting there watching Lost and she excuses herself. By the end of the episode, he realizes she’s been occupied a rather long while, but doesn’t want to be rude and say anything, so he goes about his business—cleaning up, washing dishes. How long did he ponder the situation before going to check on her, and getting the response, “I’m fine. I’ll be out in a little while”?

How late did he stay up waiting for her to emerge? At some point he had to go to bed, no doubt mentioning discreetly through the long-closed door the circumstances necessitating his action.

Next morning, and the door’s still closed. Same awkward explanation of his behavior as he heads off to work. No doubt he was a little distracted from his work, but walked into his house confident that normalcy was restored. And the door was still closed.

At some point, he had to start taking her food.

At some point, his excuses for why he didn’t have a girlfriend with him when he went out stopped being necessary.

At some point, she became furniture.

Officially the worst first date ever.