Tag: DVDs


16

Jan 2010

Streaming Netflix Movies on a PS3 in China (FAIL)

I got a PS3 late last year, and soon after Netflix announced a new feature: the ability to stream unlimited movies on the PS3 for only $8.99/month.

This got me thinking… even if you only pay 5 RMB per pirated DVD in China, it only takes about 12 movies per month to hit the equivalent of $8.99. I know many people here who watch far in excess of 12 DVDs per month, and they rarely ever watch the same DVD again, leading to piles and piles of unwanted DVDs, and just tons of DVD waste in general. And this Netflix plan is actually a legal alternative.

The way it works is you sign up online (yes, with a credit card), and then they immediately mail the Netflix PS3 disc (required for streaming) to your US address. Your two-week free trial starts at the same time.

There’s not really time to receive the disc in the States, and then ship it to China and still have time to enjoy the free trial. The people at Netflix are very nice and accommodating, however. So I had my dad mail the Netflix disc to me in China, then called up Netflix’s toll-free number (a free international call using Skype). I explained that I had received the disc, but hadn’t been able to try it yet (they can verify this), so the free trial had expired. Could I have another free trial? Oh, and by the way… I’m in China.

The customer service representative was happy to help me out, but let me know she wasn’t sure if it would work in China. Netflix is working on offering the streaming service internationally, but the movie studios are holding it up. I was hoping that Netflix was depending on very few people going to the trouble of shipping a disc to a US address and then re-mailing it to another country.

Anyway, after I inserted the Netflix PS3 disc, there was a rather long wait (2 minutes?) before the screen came up with the verification code. My customer service representative used that to reactivate my free trial. I could then browse all movies through the PS3 interface. I was told to try playing one. That’s where I got this message:

FAIL!

So Netflix is quite thorough in their streaming setup, it would seem. I’m disappointed; I was hoping Netflix could give me a (almost) legal alternative to buying pirated DVDs in China, and at a competitive price point. I would definitely pay Netflix a monthly fee for this service because:

1. It reduces waste
2. It rewards the creators of the films and the legitimate distributors
3. It’s super convenient and competitively priced

For now, the best similar alternative is very illegal: download movies to one’s home computer via bittorrent, then stream them to the PS3/TV across the network using PS3 Media Server.

What Netflix is doing really gives me hope that a legal, economically feasible alternative is on the way, though.


06

Oct 2008

DVD Waste

Cheap DVDs are one of the well-known perks of living in China. For roughly $1 per disc, you can buy almost any movie or recent TV series. There’s a huge market for this form of entertainment, and it creates two significant forms of waste material.

Packaging

Bag o' Crappy DVDs

Pirated DVDs

Some of the Chinese DVD vendors are using enough packaging these days to make even the Japanese blush. A recent DVD purchase of mine revealed the following layers of packaging:

1. Cellophane wrap
2. Cardboard display sleeve
3. Plastic box
4. Paper envelope
5. DVD sleeve case
6. Flimsy plastic sleeve

…and inside that was the actual DVD. The Chinese vendors are getting more elaborate with their packaging than the real (unpirated) DVD sellers. Why? Almost all of it goes straight into the garbage, and while some of the packaging may look good on the shelf, I can’t see the need for 6 layers of it.

Disposability

Bag o' Crappy DVDs

Bag o’ crappy DVDs

These pirated DVDs are essentially as disposable as a magazine. After one view, you might be ready to get rid of it, but if you want to keep it, you can.

I remember when I first came to China I thought that every DVD I was buying was going into “my collection.” Well, you don’t have to be here long to realize that your collection will very quickly grow beyond manageable size if you keep everything you buy. And clearly not every DVD you buy is worth keeping, even if the picture quality is excellent.

So now after I watch a DVD, if it’s not deemed worthy of keeping (and most aren’t), it goes directly into the “bag of crappy DVDs.” I usually just end up giving that bag to my ayi. Not sure what she does with them.

How about you? What do you do with your unwanted DVDs? It’s a strange problem to have, but when I look at the amount of DVDs that are bought and sold on the streets of China, I’m reminded that it must add up to an awful lot of DVD waste.


01

Aug 2008

DVD-selling Tenacity

From the SmartShanghai newsletter:

> This week’s newsletter goes out to my DVD lady, who not even one day after being told to shut shop by the filth, opened right up again and ripped me off on a shite copy of Hellboy II.

> That’s the kind of tenacity that’s going to make this the century of China.

I’ve heard about the “Olympic DVD Crackdown,” but I haven’t tried to buy any lately. With my computer in the shop, though (it was the video card fan that broke, causing the computer to overheat and shut down), I might try.


14

Jan 2008

Arashi no Yoru ni: DVD Audio as Listening Material

A while back John B introduced me to a blog called All Japanese All the Time, in which the author describes how he became fluent in Japanese while living in the States, in a relatively short amount of time. The key, as the name implies, is to immerse oneself in Japanese as much as possible. In our world of digital media, it’s not too hard to find listening material for a language like Japanese. Load this stuff onto your iPod or whatever, and soak it in. Obviously, you’ll need to be doing lots of studying as well.

Khatzumoto, the author of All Japanese All the Time, advocates finding a DVD you know well that has audio in the language you’re studying, getting familiar with the movie in that language, and then ripping the DVD audio. The idea is that you start out familiar, and with enough repetition, all those lines in the movie become yours.

I liked this idea, but I wanted to try it a slightly different way. Not long ago, my wife bought a cute animated Japanese movie called Arashi no Yoru ni. She was listening to the original Japanese dub, and watching with Chinese subtitles. I noticed in passing that the original Japanese was not difficult at all, and the plot was quite simple.

Here’s the plot (from the Wikipedia page):

Arashi no Yoru ni

> A goat named Mei wanders into a barn during the night for shelter from a storm. In the barn, the goat finds another refugee. The two can neither see nor smell each other, yet huddled together fending off the cold, they begin to talk and eventually develop a friendship. They decide to meet at a later time using the password “one stormy night”. The next day, when the two meet, Mei learns that his companion from the night before was a wolf named Gabu. Despite the fact that the two are naturally supposed to be enemies, they share a bond and begin meeting regularly. However, Mei’s flock and Gabu’s pack eventually find out about this and forbid their friendship. Mei and Gabu, hoping to preserve their friendship, cross a river during a storm, hoping to find an “emerald forest” free from persecution for their friendship.

> However, Giro, the leader of Gabu’s old pack, holds a grudge against all goats, and views Gabu as a traitor to his kind. Gilo and his pack go on the hunt to track down the two companions. Gabu and Mei, having reached the summit of a mountain and exhausted from fighting their way through a snow storm, stop and rest. Gabu hears his pack approaching and hides Mei in a nearby cave, ready to defend his goat friend to the death. As he is about to go face the wolf pack, there is an avalanche. The next morning, Mei digs through the snow blocking the cave and sees the “emerald forest” they had been searching for in the distance. However, Gabu has gone missing…

(If that’s not enough for you, there’s also an online trailer.)

OK, so now the basic question is: how well could I understand this movie in Japanese only by listening to it? That’s the point of the experiment.

The good news is that this same movie also has a high-quality Mandarin track (those Taiwanese do good work!), as well as a Cantonese track. There is no English track. I’m putting all these MP3s online for other people to give it a try as well.

Arashi no Yoru ni (Mandarin) – 16 Chapters, 128kbps, 97.3 MB
Arashi no Yoru ni (Cantonese) – 16 Chapters, 128kbps, 97.3 MB
Arashi no Yoru ni (Japanese) – 16 Chapters, 128kbps, 97.3 MB

If you give this a try, I’d really love to hear about the results. For example:

– Do you find there’s too much music to concentrate on language-learning, or does the music help?
– Can you follow the story?
– Is it enjoyable in audio-only format?

(And if you’re an angry lawyer representing Arashi no Yoru ni, just e-mail me.)


10

Jan 2008

Reel Geezers on Lust, Caution

Word on the street is that the unedited version of Lust, Caution has already circulated pretty widely. My wife picked up a good copy a while back. I’m planning to watch it soon, partly to see what the fuss is about, and partly because of the ridiculous claim that I keep hearing from the Chinese: “foreigners can’t understand it.” (I actually probably won’t understand it–this isn’t the kind of film I’m into–but it’s still a ridiculous claim.)

Anyway, this is all just an excuse to make a post featuring “Reel Geezers,” the “dynamic octogenarian duo.” Their reviews are hilarious. Watch!


07

Jul 2007

Do these DVDs look pirated to you?

DSC00385

Actually, the movies above were not pirated. They were purchased in Carrefour, a reputable grocery store, for about 20 RMB each. My point is… how can you tell?

A lawyer friend of mine recently visited China. He wouldn’t buy any pirated DVDs because he had heard horror stories of a friend of a friend trying to bring back fifty DVDs and getting busted by U.S. Customs, and fined something like $1,000 per DVD. Scary.

But if I bought fifty of these legit DVDs at Carrefour and tried to take them back home, how would customs know they’re not fake? You can buy pirated DVD-9 DVDs that look just like these. The way I see it, you’d have to show your Carrefour receipt. Your faded, blurry scrap of paper written all in Chinese. Would that really work?

And if it did work, does that mean that all you need to get your DVDs through customs is a receipt? Those would not be hard to produce. Something doesn’t fit.

Does anyone really get busted for bringing pirated DVDs back into the States? If so, can one also get through with legitimate Chinese DVDs? I really wonder this.


13

Nov 2006

Kung Fu, Season 1, on DVD

Today while grocery shopping at Carrefour I discovered a rather extensive collection of non-pirated DVDs. It was really kind of shocking. I’m not talking about just Roman Holiday or Charlie Chaplin or whatever; I’m talking about movies that were in theatres in the States in the past year. Most were priced at about 20 RMB. While that’s still close to triple the pirated price tag, it’s moving into the affordable range. With DVDs priced at 20 RMB, many Shanghai consumers could still afford them (although they might have to get choosier) if the police were ever to really crack down on DVD piracy instead of just pretending to.

Kung Fu (1st Season) DVD

Kung Fu, Season 1

But anyway… this post is about the old TV series with David Carradine, Kung Fu (Chinese title 功夫, not to be confused with the Stephen Chow movie of the same name). I found Season 1 on DVD at Carrefour priced at 118 RMB for the 6-disc set. Anti-piracy saint that I am, I plunked down all that cash for the official version.

When I think about it, the TV show Kung Fu was probably my first exposure to “Chinese culture” growing up, aside from the occasional Chinese restaurant. I was never very interested in China until about two years before coming here, so it’s kind of interesting to revisit one of my earliest sources of Chinese cultural input to see what I think of it now. I remember watching bits of the TV show with my dad as a child and finding it pretty boring. So now, about 20 years later, I have a chance to see what I missed.

I was also curious what Chinese people think of this TV show… I mean, it’s a story about a Shaolin monk in the American Old West, but it was written in the 70’s, mainly by Americans Howard Friedlander and Ed Spielman. I’m just going to take a wild guess here and say that they’re probably not eminent sinologists. The chances of massive cultural gaffes are great. You have tons of flashback scenes of the young protagonist at Shaolin Temple, and you can’t watch 5 minutes without someone spouting some sort of Eastern philosophy. Bruce Lee was co-creator, though, so maybe he made sure they got it mostly right?

Not being a journalist, I’m not bound to do any real research about this kind of thing, so I simply asked Xiao Wang (my ayi). She was very familiar with the show, and though it was great. Well, cool… at least some Chinese like it. She didn’t erupt into spontaneous laughter, anyway.

Three little details I noticed after watching the first episode:

1. The main character of the showed is called Caine. His name is written in the Chinese subtitles as 凯恩. This is also the Chinese name of Ken Carroll, co-founder of ChinesePod, as well as of his Kaien English School. Coincidence??

2. In one scene there are two clear references to Shaolin Temple as being in Hunan. But it’s not. It’s in Henan. The Chinese subtitles got it right.

3. Caine’s full name is Kwai Chang Caine. Apparently the Chinese translators couldn’t make any sense of that as a Chinese name, so they called him 凯恩· 张.

If you want English audio, the DVD won’t let you turn off the Chinese subtitles. It’s not a big deal except that I can’t help reading the subtitles. So I end up nitpicking the translation even though I don’t want to. On the plus side, though, I’ll learn how to say things like, “when you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave” in Chinese. And living in China, you know that’s going to come in handy.

UPDATE: Once upon a time, Prince Roy offered insight into the issue of Kwai Chang Caine’s real name and the location of Shaolin Temple.


27

Aug 2006

Chinese Style Snakes on a Plane

I watched the much “celebrated” Snakes on a Plane with John B and our wives last night. I picked up the DVD on the way over to his place. The DVD guy outside of the 好得 (AKA “All Days”) convenience store had it. Here’s what the cover looks like:

snakesonaplane-front

A very evil-looking Jackson on the pirated Snakes on a Plane DVD

Thanks to Matt at No-Sword I knew what to expect in terms of the movie’s Chinese title, but I certainly didn’t expect the French title, or this camcorder edition’s laughtrack (yes, a French laughtrack). Really, though, when you’re expecting ridiculous, I guess it only adds to the experience.

The main and secondary titles on this cover confirm two of the mainland Chinese titles that Matt dug up:

空中蛇灾 — “Midair snake disaster”
航班蛇患 — “Snake woes on a flight”


12

Jun 2006

China: Alternative Film Showcase

You know what the cool thing about buying DVDs in China is? I mean besides them only costing US$1. You may get stuck with bad copies if you buy from unscrupulous vendors (or if you’re too impatient), and not every mindless comedy makes it to the streets of China, but I am continuously amazed at the obscure stuff that does make it here. Any China expat can tell you stories of finding some really random old movie from his childhood on DVD in the unlikeliest corners of China.

Just recently I found The Ewok Adventure (1984) on DVD bundled with Ewoks: the Battle for Endor (1985). I grew up in the 80s, so ewoks were an important part of my childhood. I picked up the two-disc set. I was disappointed to discover that the contents of the DVDs did not match the DVD covers; it was the short-lived ewok animated series I had actually bought. Laaaame. (I may have a soft spot for certain 80s nostalgia, but I do have my limits.)

Bad 80s made-for-TV movies aside, all the exposure to less mainstream films is great. Some DVD shops seem to specialize in obscure movies. I’m not sure if the selection is intentional or if they somehow get stuck with the “dregs” of the DVD shipment. I see quite a few French films, but stuff from all over as well.

Two movies I watched over the weekend:

Les Revenants, AKA They Came Back (France, 2004). I was intrigued because this was a zombie movie with very different zombies. French zombies. And they didn’t attack people or eat brains–they just came back… only they were a little odd. This had serious psychological consequences on the loved ones to whom they returned. Pretty interesting movie, but it dragged a bit in the second half and didn’t have a very satisfying ending. Also, I kept waiting for a zombie to flip out and chomp on someone’s living flesh, and it never happened. At least this movie had good English subtitles, so it was only weird French cinematic metaphors for life and death and acceptance (or whatever) that were confusing me, and not language as well.

Tsotsi (South Africa, 2005). I picked this one up because I really know very little about South Africa (ignorance is bad), and I kind of wanted to hear the African hip hop mentioned on the back. I also had the foolish hope that the movie would be in English, so I didn’t check for English subtitles. Instead I was treated to 94 minutes of Afrikaans, with no English subtitles. Actually there was very little dialogue in the movie, though, so the Chinese subtitles gave me more than enough to follow the story. I definitely enjoyed this one.


19

Jan 2006

In China, Babies Sell DVDs

A scene I imagined, based on real events:

> The middle-aged woman knocked on the dingy office door. “Shei ah?” an impatient man’s voice cried from within. “What do you want?”

> “I was hoping I could get a job,” the woman replied. “I have experience selling on the streets, and my friend Xiao Li told me you need DVD vendors.”

> The door opened and the woman was admitted. “Yeah, we do. Not just any DVDs, though. These are adult DVDs. You know how to sell adult DVDs?”

> “Well, I know how to avoid the cops, and I know I should target young men…”

> “No kidding, genius. But do you know the key?”

> “Well, I do have a baby…”

> “Yes! Perfect! That’s it! How old is the baby?”

> “Only 6 months.”

> “Great. We don’t need him talking and screwing up sales. You just need him on one arm while you push these yellow DVDs with the other. Lady, you and that baby of yours were destined to sell my porn DVDs.”

OK, this may seem like a bizarre dialogue, but it’s true that there is a trend in Shanghai of woman holding babies selling adult DVDs. In a group of three women all selling DVDs, all three of them will be holding a baby! I really don’t understand it. I rarely see any other kind of vendor with a baby.

If I were going to buy adult DVDs, (1) I wouldn’t want to buy from a woman, and (2) I certainly wouldn’t want to buy from a woman holding a baby! And yet, on the bridge that crosses Suzhou Creek at West Zhoushan Road, I regularly see these women peddling porn with their babies, and I see men buying them.

Is the Chinese male’s psyche really that different?


17

Oct 2005

Unflattering DVD Covers

I’ve talked about funny examples of pirated DVDs’ English subtitles and funny examples of pirated DVDs’ Chinese subtitles. These are both pretty commonplace in China. Another source of pirated DVD amusement is the actual DVD jacket the pirates create to sell the movies on the streets.

In many cases the pirates do an extremely professional job, creating either an almost exact replica of the official release, or an original design which is hardly inferior to the official DVD release’s case design. However, it is also not unusual to find DVD jackets with English text thrown on for appearance only (why would Chinese customers care if the English synopsis is totally wrong?). This happens most often when the DVD jacket is created way before the DVD’s official release. This can have hilarious results. I once saw an English synopsis on the back of a pirated DVD jacket that looked something like this: “Sfhtmcp hirncoae nsf doijwp sd dgv pmayq icbs ht yfksbn gxksmzbnc hfjr oisjgf tcwtq nsiv cpsj Fxhstr utn vgbgj doivpb mndlc jvnbh dyr.” You get the idea. The more “professional” pirates often turn to movie reviews on the IMDb. Sometimes they choose less than favorable reviews to display prominently on the DVD jackets, however.

Below is just one example of this phenomenon. Note the quotes on the front at the bottom, and at top right (in red) on the back.

Pirated Dungeons and Dragons DVD

The movie’s full title is Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. In case there is any doubt, it is indeed a horrible movie. I got through about 20 minutes of it before I turned it off. (Someone gave it to me!)


More: There’s a Flickr group called Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers with more of the same (although not all necessarily funny).

Related: If you liked the crazy English subtitles, a blog called Middle Kingdom Stories has made it a regular feature. Check it out: Crazy subtitles. I still think the original Backstroke of the West was the funniest, though.


14

Jun 2005

Backstroke of the West

Winterson.com, a recent addition to the CBL, has an awesome entry entitled “episode iii, the backstroke of the west” (the title will make sense when you read the entry). I had a really good time writing my “Closer Subtitle Surrealism” entry, and it gave me ideas for other similar subtitle-related posts. Jeremy has beaten me to one of them: hilarious English subtitles on Hollywood films. This phenomenon comes about when pirates do their own shoddy English subtitles to new releases. Here is just one example (and not the best):

Episode 3 English subtitles

Be sure to read Winterson.com’s original entry for more. He also has an older entry with funny subtitles for Fahrenheit 9/11.


28

May 2005

Star Wars Set

The full two-trilogy Star Wars DVD set is already available for purchase in Shanghai in two attractive versions: the simple 6-disc set (60rmb) and the deluxe 10-disc set featuring the “making of” segments (200rmb). Both look extremely professional and come in a special case, shrink-wrapped and all.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is actually a very clear copy, but it has unattractive “burned in time code across the top” for the entire movie. The other five movies in the set are perfect copies.

Here’s a picture of some silly lawbreaker posing with his illegal 6-disc Star Wars set:

Star Wars Trilogy

Whoever this shameless malefactor is, he’s got an awesome t-shirt. Screeching Weasel! Preach it to China!


More on Star Wars in China:

My earlier entry on it
Dave’s take on the dubbed version


27

Oct 2003

"Catch and Kill Bill"

I was pretty sleepy in Chinese class today. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and the teacher’s explanations of the subtle differences between 4 different Chinese words somehow wasn’t jolting me into the desired state of consciousness. I desperately wanted to yawn, but that would be really rude to the teacher if she saw it, so I kept trying to sneak one in when she’d turn to the board to write, but then she would always turn around just a bit too soon, forcing me to clamp my mouth shut and depriving me of full yawn satisfaction at every attempt.

Kill Bill

What did wake me up, though, was the teacher’s explanation of the word (劈), meaning “to chop, to cleave.” Somehow she decided a good point of reference was Tarantino’s new movie Kill Bill, in which someone’s head is cleaved in two with a katana, apparently. I was amazed. “You’ve seen it already?” I asked her, forgetting the whole point of the reference. (This was a woman who loved Taiwan’s sappy Meteor Garden — not someone likely to be into such a violent movie.) No, she hadn’t, but she’d seen ads online, and some head-cleaving image had stuck in her mind. Then we went off on a tangent about whether you could buy a pirated copy on the streets of Hangzhou yet. (We decided you could probably find it, but not better than a camcorder copy.)

I’ve never been a Tarantino fan, but this movie sure is creating a stir. It’s even trickled into my Chinese classroom. I’m intrigued.

The English title “Kill Bill” is translated into Chinese as something like “Catch and Kill Bill.” The Chinese tend to prefer a 4-character name over a 3-character name, and since “Bill” gets transliterated into the 2-character Bi’er, the “kill” part has two characters to play with. The translators decided to add the “pursuit” concept that the plot revolves around to the 1-character “kill” word.

So I’ll be watching the streets to catch that DVD release.


11

Apr 2003

New DVDs

Made a little DVD run today. We buy pirated DVDs for 7rmb each (less than US$1). I bought pretty much only Chinese and Japanese stuff. The Chinese movies are mostly fluff. The Japanese movies were several of Miyazaki Hayao‘s classic animated films. Two of the Chinese movies I got mostly because the covers made me laugh. Keep in mind that since these movies are pirated — and in many cases released before the real DVD has even been released — the pirating companies have to design their own covers. Usually they just steal images from advertisements, but occasionally you see something original or weird, and you see a lot of bad English. I picked up two DVDs that I’d like to mention, although I haven’t watched them yet.

Flowers of Shanghai

Flowers of Shanghai (海上花).
This one is apparently critically acclaimed. What caught my eye was a line at the top of the cover: PROSTITUTE MOVIE COLLECTION (Chinese: 青楼名妓电影系列). I know there are some movies about prostitution, but there’s a prostitute movie collection?! Kinda funny. The movie is about the late 19th century Shanghai brothel business.

Looking for Mister Perfect

Looking for Mister Perfect (奇逢敌手).
I don’t have high expectations for this movie. I’m thinking it’ll be popular because it’s one of Shu Qi’s new ones. The graphic the pirates used for the cover design is such an obvious ripoff of the The Fast and the Furious design that it’s embarrassing. What was funny was the English description on the back. Here it is, verbatim:

> The bright and red-blooded woman fucks the small of earnes t to work, however lack the confidence to love.Although have to warmly pursue, however dream of to launch the love with white dress man of in a dream.A time an d outside swim consumedly horse insid e,small The white dress man, of the to p in a dream however is the evil-foreb oding dream’s beginning.Advertise co mpany Chen to living, and superficia lly is aMissile that wet businessma n, carry on the back the to howev er make with big Poon to navigat e the electronics spare parts to def end the system bargain.Check the b lack dragon spy of this case the Alex, and mistake small for the party, at a the round pursueThe empress, small c ooper ates with hims, and the Poon fina ly catch.Two people with each other living the cordiality… the…

OK, I know it ends in an ellipsis, but that’s really the whole thing. Amazing, is it not? It left me speechless.

Shu Qi
Shu Qi, as I mentioned above, was probably a big draw for the viewers of Looking for Mister Perfect. She is really popular in China right now. She’s in ads everywhere (red bean soup in a can, shampoo, long underwear… you name it!), and stars in movie after movie. One of her most recent big hits was So Close.

She’s obviously popular for her good looks, but what’s interesting is that she got her start in the soft porn industry. Predictably, a lot of Chinese girls hate her. Meanwhile, guys everywhere go gaga.

I got some comments on Looking for Mister Perfect from a Chinese discussion board. Interestingly, they’re bilingual. Excuse my hasty translation.

> adult (2003-4-10 5:58:01): shu qi is very sexy, I saw her early nude movie, she is good.

> 输棋 (2003-4-4 8:49:07): 真不明白,怎么这么多人喜欢她?不过既然有人会如此捧林青霞,答案也就很明显了,输棋不好看,但还比林青霞好 [I really don’t get it — how can so many people like her? But there are also people that are similarly crazy over Lin Qingxia — the answer is obvious. Shu Qi isn’t good looking, but better than Lin Qingxia.]

> agree (2003-4-3 10:44:03): yes, I share the same view with su qi, and I would love to slap those who thinks 舒淇 [Shu Qi] has the looks, 舒淇 [Shu Qi] is as attractive as a toaster.

> su qi (2003-4-3 9:16:33): I do not understand the popularity of shu qi. She plays the exact same role in every one of her movies.

If I had to choose an actress that’s been in some of the more erotic-type movies, I’d go with Christy Chung (钟丽缇). I’ve seen I’ve heard about some some pretty racy flicks of hers, like Jan Dara (晚娘), a twisted tale of a Thai family’s ruin, and Samsara, a story of Tibetan monk’s bout with temptation.


13

Oct 2002

Daily Life Q&A

I thought some people might find interesting the answers I gave to some questions my dad asked me recently by e-mail:

> You know, we hear about all the neat times that you have — & we’re glad to hear about them. I’m wondering about the day to day stuff:

Sorry… It’s sometimes hard to think of what day-to-day stuff I haven’t mentioned or what might actually be interesting to you. I’ve lost some of the outsider’s perspective.

I write for my own pleasure as well as my readers’, so I tend to go light on day-to-day stuff.

> What do you have for breakfast?

danbing

Hmmm… Maybe this is why I go light on the stuff. A lot of the answers to seemingly simple questions have to be really long because of cultural differences. A lot of the things I eat are Chinese, and not available in the U.S. I sometimes eat rolls or bread, but usually a “roubing” (fried breadish stuff with meat filling in the middle) or a “danbing” (sort of a crepe with egg and chives and sauce). I usually drink milk or juice.

> What’s a typical everyday day like?

Hmmm… I don’t think there’s a “typical” day… I usually have class in the morning. I frequently eat lunch with Wilson and/or Helene or Nicola. I have to plan for class, but only in the beginning of the week. I still study Chinese. I hang out with Wilson quite a bit. Sometimes we watch DVDs at night. I go online, read and answer e-mail quite a bit. I also post new blog entries pretty frequently. Unfortunately, I don’t spend a lot of time with Chinese friends these days. I just don’t feel really close to anyone now.

> Do you eat out most meals?

Yes.

> Do you cook for yourself?

Almost never.

> Do you guys have “pot lucks” in the dorm?

Not yet.

> Is your cooking a la Chinoise or a la Americaine?

It’s really hard to cook a lot of American things here. Examples… You can buy spaghetti, but the sauce is almost impossible to find at most stores in Hangzhou. Furthermore, just asking if they have it is difficult, because it’s not an item that Chinese people are familiar with. All pasta is referred to as “Italian noodles,” and if you translate “tomato sauce” it means “ketchup.”

The Chinese seem to be fond of lumping unfamiliar concepts together and then applying generalizations. Examples: “Foreigners are tall.” “Western food is bland and simple.” Some of the few American things I can make without too much hassle are ham and cheese sandwiches (only processed American cheese, though), tuna salad sandwiches, and egg salad sandwiches. Even those, though, require special (expensive) ingredients: sliced ham, cheese, mayonaise, canned tuna.

Maybe you’ll suggest I try this or try that, but the simple fact is that going shopping, then cooking, then cleaning up is a big hassle for one person. Coordinating groups efforts is also a hassle. When fully prepared Chinese food is so cheap and ubiquitous, it’s the way to go (except on special occasions).

> Do you go to movies?

No, I buy DVDs.

> Do you have a radio?

Yes, but I rarely use it.

> What kind of things can you listen to there?

I buy CDs (Western and Chinese) occasionally, but I mostly listen to MP3s.

> Do you use your computer to play music?

Yes.

> Do you take buses, rickshaws, taxis, private vehicles, or Shank’s Mare to get around?

Yes, no, yes, no, and HUH?

“Rickshaws” as you probably imagine them do not really exist in modern China. They were banned by Mao. Pedicabs (big cargo tricycles) are everywhere, both for human transport as well as all kinds of cargo. I rarely ever use those, though. They’re not a whole lot faster than walking, and I’m way faster on my bike.

pedicab for people (courtesy of Shutty.net) pedicab for cargo

> Is public transportation inexpensive?

Yes. 1 or 2 yuan ($0.125 or $0.25). Taxis usually range from 10-30 yuan depending on the destination.

> Do you spend all day at church on Sundays?

No.

> Are you still working w/ the kids at church?

No. One hour a week for kids so young seems to do nothing. They don’t retain anything.