Tag: funny


Aug 2006

In-Lawed at The 88s

fish out of water

I have not read a blog entry as funny as “In-Lawed” in a long time. The author describes the various ways that his Chinese in-laws–under normal circumstances “generally reasonable and open people”–are gradually driving him insane during their visit to the US. Just two examples of these “small things”:

> – Dad, I got you the chicken McNuggets. I got you the little cup of ketchup for them. I got you a hot fudge sundae. I then watched in amazement as you dipped each of your ten McNuggets into your hot fudge sundae. I explained that the ketchup was for dipping, the sundae was desert. You slathered each McNugget in hot fudge and ice cream anyway. Dad, you rock.

> – Mom can’t be in the sun. Apparently she is a vampire and the sun melts vampires. Mom can’t be in the car. She gets car sick after 10 minutes. Mom doesn’t like to walk. It is too tiring. Mom doesn’t like to fly. It is too expensive. Mom wants to know where we are going today.

There are 14 more of these, and the above were not the funniest ones. Just read it.

I think part of the reason I am so amused by this story is that I know that in a year or two I will be in the exact same situation. I am pretty sure my in-laws will be a lot more “international” in their behavior, but I could be dead wrong. Hilarity could very well ensue for me as well.

P.S. The 88s is a great blog, and I should read it more often, but I’ve been so busy with work lately that I’ve been reading only about three blogs. So I must admit that I found this article through the Hao Hao Report.


Aug 2006

Chinese Hip Hop Riddle

Micah sent me a link to this great riddle:

> 猜一个中文字:
(Guess the Chinese character:)

> “一个人在树上唱hip-hop”
(“a person in (on) a tree singing hip hop”)

> 什么字?
(What’s the character?)

I think the riddle is “great” because I doubt many Chinese people could get it, and this helps even the score just a tiny bit. (Not that I guessed it, though…)




Jun 2006

surfer, muppet, gun, redrum, fist

I recently stumbled across Copperpoint’s awesome reference to the Chinese “hand gestures” for numbers 6 through 10 (via Meg). I felt the method really needed a visual aid, so I took the liberty of creating one (complete with an awesome Shanghai background). I also realized that if Copperpoint’s message was to be taken from just funny to useful, it needed some more mnemonics connecting the gestures with the numbers and/or the Chinese words for them. So I took the liberty of creating those as well. It was a bit of a stretch in some cases, but here we go anyway…

6: Hang Loose

Surfer. The surfers in Hawaii make this hand gesture, which means “hang loose.” So while the surfers are hangin’ loose in Hawaii, you can be hangin’ liùs in a Chinese market (liù means 6). Also, the numeral “6” looks sort of like a growing wave (whereas “9” looks like a crashing wave, which is no good to surfers), so that can remind you of surfers too.

7: Kermit's Head

Muppet. It’s like a muppet skeleton. A muppet bereft of flesh. The shape of a hand in a puppet even looks kind of like a “7,” doesn’t it? What are muppets, if not tools to deceive (欺骗, or “七”骗) children and pull them into that make-believe world? I just hear the amazed children now, going “gee…” ( means 7).

8: The Gun

Gun. It definitely looks like a gun. You ever had a double-barrell shotgun in your face? Me neither, but the muzzle kind of looks like an 8 on its side. And what sound does a gun make? Bang! ( means 8).

9: Redrum! Redrum!

Redrum. The foreshadowing of the violence to come. 10 is the fist, and 9 comes right before the fist, so it’s very similar to the fist. And do you remember the name of Jack Torrance’s little boy in The Shining? Well, can we just pretend it was Joe, because that sounds an awful lot like jiǔ (9). Thanks.

10: The Fist

Fist. 10 is completion and power. 10 is also the number assigned to the “perfect woman” (that only bad, bad sexist men would ever use). And what do those sexist men do over a “ten?” They fight each other. With their fists. And then the last guy standing gets the girl (hey, she’s pretty, but not too bright), and he goes gaga over her, so whatever she asks him to do he just says, “sure” (shí means 10).

Ok, this may seem like a completely ridiculous exercise, but I can assure you that after exerting that much “brain power” over it, I will never, ever forget those hand gestures. (I used to forget them a lot.)

There is another page on Chinese Number Gestures at Chinese-Tools.com, but I should warn you about that page first:

1. He doesn’t have the cool cityscape background photos for his hand photos.
2. His photos are small, and you can’t click on them to see a huge version on Flickr that you just might need.
3. He has photos for numbers 1-5 as well, but if you don’t know those already you’re dumb.
4. His thumb doesn’t have that cool backwards curve to it that mine does (or is he just trying to hide it?).
5. The one he has for 10 I’ve never seen before.

Go to the Wikipedia entry for more info on issues like “number gestures in Taiwan vs. the mainland” (but not awesome pictures).

Finally, to close, I would like to share a link for an “ancient Chinese number system” which supposedly allowed the Chinese to count up to 100,000 on one hand. I don’t really understand how this is supposed to work short of sticking acupuncture needles in your hand (which would require an extra hand). It appears to me to be complete and utter bullshit. Enjoy.


Apr 2006

Happy Easter!

祝大家复活节快乐! (I wish you all a happy Easter!)


(Image found on Japancast.)

P.S. And a very happy birthday to a very special someone…

P.P.S. I don’t believe in any “war on Easter,” but as a Catholic I do believe that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus and not chocolate bunnies. Still, I find this kind of thing funny.

Living in China is like an RPG


Jan 2006

Living in China is like an RPG


nerdy RPG dice

For a foreigner, living in China can be like a (classic, non-computer) RPG. Let me count the ways…

1. It offers an escape from an ordinary, monotonous existence

2. It appeals to nerds

3. There’s more than a reasonable amount of dice rolling going on (Chinese bars)

4. Money is counted in “pieces” ()

5. The fast way to do things is “on horseback” (马上)

6. Dragons are real (恐龙, lit. “terrible dragons”)

7. Players usually enter the game with special abilities (e.g. English, foreigner charm)

8. It’s really fun at first, but can get old pretty fast

9. It takes place in a magical world where people believe in mystical concepts like qi and fengshui

10. The people take legends very seriously (even 5,000 year old ones)

11. The word “peasant” doesn’t seem out of place

12. There are plenty of barmaids in the taverns and women of ill repute on the streets

13. The background story: a legendary kingdom has fallen under the control of a powerful, malevolent force, and heroes are nowhere to be found…


Dec 2005

Christmas Classics in Cantonese

About a year ago I presented a Hakka version of Jingle Bells and a lot of people enjoyed it. I thought this year I’d share another Chinese take on the Christmas classics. This time it’s a band called Cookies (曲奇) singing in Cantonese (so to me it sounds almost as bizarre as the Hakka song). You have to listen to a bit of Canto-pop before they get into it, but at the 1:26 mark they start singing to the tune of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” followed immediately by “Jingle Bells,” then “Joy to the World,” “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” “Deck the Halls,” “Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and finally “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (don’t be alarmed when they only slip into English briefly during those last two). It all has a very bizarre Canto-pop hyperactive feel to it.

You can find and download the song easily through Baidu; just follow this 曲奇圣诞歌 search link, then either click on one of the 试听 (“listen first”) links, or click on one of the song titles and then download the song from the MP3 link on the new page.

While I’m at it, I thought I’d throw in some Chinese Christmas flash fun as well. Check out these links (also found through Baidu):

– What do Santa Claus and a skiing alien accompanied by snow pigs have in common? Watch this “origin of Santa Claus” cartoon to find out.
Chinese Jingle Bells Rap. Nuff said.
圣诞结 (that’s someone else’s pun, not my 错别字), the most depressing Christmas song ever. It has lyrics like, “of all the people I’ve loved / not a single one is left by my side / only loneliness keeps me company throughout the night / Merry, Merry Christmas / Lonely, Lonely Christmas.” On this joyous holiday, this is a great song to remind you how miserable it makes some people. (Note that for many modern Chinese, Christmas is seen as a day to be with a boyfriend/girlfriend).
Hit Santa with a Snowball. This game is not fun, it’s just hilarious to me because the animation is so awful and the “music” has about a 3 second loop. Well, that and the fact that you get presents out of Santa by knocking him silly with snowballs.
Santa does Mission Impossible. And also some Chinese song covers.

Merry Christmas!


Nov 2005

Capitals and Entirety

At first I was going to call this another Chinese pun, but now I’m not sure if it qualifies. It’s orthographically dependent (it won’t work when read aloud), and it involves grammar as well. But it’s still pretty easy for students of Chinese to understand.

Central to the understanding of this pun is the notion of the 多音字: a character that has multiple readings. The one you need to know for this pun is the rather basic character 都. In its adverbial usage it carries the basic meaning of “all” and is read dōu. It can also mean “capital (city),” as in 首都, in which case the character is read .

A friend was telling me a story about how some young Chinese students. They were learning about different cities in China and their relative importance to the nation’s economy. One city was especially important for coal production, so it was called the 煤都 (“coal capital”). The students had to memorize this. Another city was key in supplying iron ore, so it was called the 铁都 (“iron capital”). The students had to memorize this too, along with many others.

When it came time for the test, the students saw questions like this:

> 中国的煤都是         [China’s coal capital is          ] > 中国的铁都是         [China’s iron capital is          ]

One clever student failed in his rote memorization duties, but he found a way to answer the questions anyway:

> 中国的煤都是黑的 [China’s coal is all black ] > 中国的铁都是硬的 [China’s iron is all hard ]

What could the teacher do? Even though these were clearly not the answers sought, they were completely correct in that written form — even to someone with no knowledge of Chinese geography.


Nov 2005

Cold as Poison

I’ve been doing occasional translation work lately. It produced this IM conversation with Brad:

> John: ARRGHHH… look what I have to translate into English:

>> 学生:老师,有一个同学还没来呢。[Student: Teacher, one student isn’t here yet.]

>> 老师:他生病了。 [Teacher: He’s sick.]

>> 大家:啊? [Students: What??]

>> 老师:他昨天到家喝了冰的汽水,晚上就发烧,拉肚子了。[Teacher: Yesterday he went home and drank cold soda. That evening he came down with a fever and got diarrhea.]

> Brad: hahahahahahahaha

> John: I hate that [nonsense]!!!

> John: fever AND diarrhea from a cold soft drink

> John: that stuff is poison in a can… just chill to activate the poison

> Brad: I’m sending you a long-ass Chinese email about “health” that was forwarded to me

> John: oooh, sounds fun

> John: hah… Thunderbird sent it straight to “junk”

> Brad: why do chinese people feel the need to make up bs explanations for their so-called health advice

> Brad: like if I say something about why chinese people tell me not to drink cold stuff, my manager or co-workers will say something like “most chinese people don’t eat or drink anything cold”

> Brad: so I ask why all the convenience and grocery stores have refrigerators full of drinks and ice cream

> Brad: apparently, young people are the *only* customers!

> Brad: and the reason they don’t get sick is because of their westernized diet…kfc and mcdonald’s

> John: what is that supposed to mean?

> John: that the traditional Chinese diet makes them weak?

> Brad: I guess

> John: later on in that translation comes this line:

>> 他已经打了针,吃了药,退烧了。 [He has already gotten a shot and taken medicine, and his fever has gone down.]

> John: wow, way to treat that damn cold soda

> Brad: did they warm up the saline?

> John: hehe… they poured it from a thermos

[Translation note: In order to avoid intercultural confusion in this particular translation, I translated the first part with “he ate something that upset his stomach,” and the later part with, “he has already taken some medicine for it,” as getting the fever, the diarrhea, and the IV were not at all important details in this case.]

I’m a reasonable guy. I don’t reject all Chinese conventional wisdom. Some of it is very accurate, and some of it makes sense even to an unbeliever like me. For example, I’ve had the “cold drinks cause stomach pain” idea explained to me in this way: “The body expends energy maintaining a constant temperature. Cold liquids, upon entering the stomach, require the body’s energy in order to be heated to the same temperature as the body.” Yes, this makes good, thermodynamic sense. But when something goes too far and completely goes against (1) my personal experience, and (2) Western scientific/medical knowledge, I’m going to by mighty skeptical.

I have to admit, though, once or twice since coming to China I’ve eaten or drunk something cold and then gotten a stomach ache immediately thereafter. I can’t explain it. It’s as if living in China and eating Chinese food day in and day out warps my physiological reality. Yikes!


Nov 2005



I thought I’d heard some pretty cheesey Chinese pop, but I think this song by “Y.I.Y.O.” tops them all. It’s called 《嫁给我好吗?》 (“Marry me, OK?”). As if the singers themselves looking as cheesey and lame as possible wasn’t enough, they took their nauseatingly saccharine lyrics and merged them with 50’s-style doo-wop! The result is mind-blowingly horrible. At the risk of my own sanity, I did some checking up and discovered that the group only seems to have made one song in this craptacularly awful style. Check it out:

Y.I.Y.O. – 嫁给我好吗?(Flash)
[lyrics link]

I have a morbid fascination with horrible music. Sorry for bringing you all down with me.


Oct 2005

Back Dorm Boys

OK, I said I was taking a break, but this is too funny not to share…

Thanks to Tian for giving me the heads up. Tian has also collected a lot of this talented duo’s videos on his blog. They really are called the “Back Dorm Boys” (后舍男生). Take a look.

P.S. That is definitely an authentic Chinese boys’ dorm, right down to the roommate playing CS!


Oct 2005

LTK video

No one seems to understand why I regularly check out Screenhead‘s offerings. It’s because I occasionally find really good stuff there! I’m not sure if this qualifies as “really good,” but it’s Chinese and it’s interesting.


LTK video

The video is by LTK Commune, “a well-known Taiwanese ‘underground’ band founded in 1990. Their music has been variously described as having elements of punk, rock, nakasi, Taiwanese folk songs. In recent years band members have self-consciously applied the label ‘Taik’ (from Taiwanese + -k ending, as in punk, rock) to their music – a reference to the Taiwanese Taike (Trad.: 台客) subculture.”

I gotta admit, I kinda like the sound. I can’t understand Taiwanese, and I’m too lazy to try to make sense of the subtitles, but I like the sound. I would be interested in hearing more. The video (Quicktime required) is cleverly done as well.

Warning: video contains scenes of light-hearted softcore sodomy. (no joke)


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.


Oct 2005

Life Imitates Art

Yesterday’s lookalike post was so much fun I decided to do a similar one today. I stumbled upon these while searching for images for The Myth for yesterday’s post.





Good stuff, although the Yao Ming one isn’t as good as the others (especially the first two). The male statues seem to be terracotta warriors. I’ve seen some of these guys in Xi’an. I even beat one in a thumb wrestling match once.


Sep 2005

Double Cock Action

A while back (years ago, I believe) I offered to host Jamie Doom on the Sinosplice Network (wow, that page is really in need of a makeover). Apparently Jamie is aware of neither the gradual decline of the Sinosplice Network nor the unspoken statute of limitations on such a verbal offer (it’s one year). By resurrecting my long expired offer, I was put in an embarrassing situation which I handled deftly… by agreeing immediately to host him. And then set up a WordPress blog for him. And then customize and edit his theme for him. And then write a post on my blog promoting his new blog location. Such are the powers of awkwardness between friends that haven’t actually seen each other in a long time.

But I suppose I should say something about the double cock action, which is presumably what drew you to this post in the first place.

double cock action

Jamie was originally going to do his theme in some kind of wussy bamboo green theme (who likes green, anyway??), but I talked him out of it. I had seen the strength of the double cock action in his photo collection, and I knew that strength could be a part of his new blog as well.

From that humble double cock beginning, the theme took on a life of its own and matured. Jamie is anything but one dimensional, and double cock action alone is a completely inadequate representation of all that is Jamie Doom.

Anyway, we like how it turned out. So check out Jamie Doom’s new blog.


Sep 2005

Safe and Sound in Shanghai

Exciting news! The Public Control Department of Shanghai Public Security Bureau has teamed up with the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau of Shanghai Public Security Bureau to produce yet another free, attractive, and informative propaganda pamphlet entitled SAFE AND SOUND IS THE WORLD’S BEST WISHES!


Please don’t think this is an entry devoted to making fun of Chinglish. That joke is a little tired by now, and I think it’s sort of mean-spirited sometimes. Rather, I would like to share with everyone what I learned from this educational pamphlet. Here we go!

  1. Pickpockets mix with visitors! Even when going sightseeing! Those crafty devils. Therefore beware.


  2. Your car is not a safe. So you know all those sacks you have marked with dollar signs and stuffed full of cash? Don’t keep them in your car. They could get stolen. You should carry them around with you.


  3. Apparently my foreigner habit of relaxing at night with a wineglass of XO whiskey in front of my flatscreen TV, my back to the open door, is not safe. Good to know!
  4. My habit of gravitating toward stealing and snatching could actually result in me getting my own things stolen! I should in fact stay far away from stealing and snatching.


  5. The theft situation in Shanghai is so bad that luggage actually steals other luggage!
  6. Here in Shanghai we don’t just “eat.” Oh, no… We enjoy delicacies, you country bumpkin! (Meanwhile our things are getting stolen.)


  7. You know that guy that comes into the office with a big black sack and rummages through our stuff? Be suspicious of him!


The production of this pamphlet was truly a kindness on the part of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. There are some things we foreigners just don’t understand.


Jul 2005

The Hanzi Bird

As I’m still in the USA doing fun stuff with my girlfriend like Sarasota Beach, canoeing, Disney World, Busch Gardens, and Sea World, I haven’t been surfing the web much or keeping up with blogs.

Micah gave me a welcome heads up to a comment by Matt of No-Sword on the great blog Muninn which involved the use of hanzi for this pictographic purpose:


Good stuff.

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