Category Archives: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Chinese Swim Strokes, Saying Stupid Things to Famous People

The Good 1. Autumn We don’t have autumn in Tianjin, typically. In the four years or so I’ve been here, I’ve never experienced a prolonged (more than two-week) stretch of autumnal weather. The best we get is three or four days at a time, and that’s interspersed with either leftover summer weather or early winter, which means one day you’re… (more…)

Share

Superfluity, New Roommates, and the Liquid Nitrogen Man

1. Watching people from my window My dorm room window looks out onto a sort of large courtyard that has a hotel on one side and the visiting scholar/foreign teacher dorm on another, with my dorm on the third side. Summer’s the season for conferences and camps, apparently, because every week this summer there was a new group filing across… (more…)

Share

Micro-Shorts, What’s Up With Koreans?, Mammoth Project

1. Post-graduate life Wow. Double wow. If you’re a nerd (all right: an academic; but really, I have no problem being a nerd), there’s no better lifestyle than paid study. Actually, there is: foreign paid study. Not only am I getting paid to study, but I’m getting paid to study. . .by the Chinese government. My uncle Johnny once pointed… (more…)

Share

Filipino Rodeo Bars, Taxi Theater, and Ezra Pound

The Good 1. Purely Aesthetic pursuits (once in a while) I threw that parenthetical caveat in there because although there’s something deeply fulfilling about investigating something abstract, if you make a habit of it you might wind up one of those people who insist that John Cage’s 4:43 (an orchestral piece which is nothing but silence for 4:43) is a… (more…)

Share

Airlines, TV World Dominance, and Benches

The Good 1. Cathay-Pacific Airlines – Wow. That’s all I can say. This was my first time aboard a plane which had nifty little video screens in the back of each seat, and a handset which allowed you to access any of about 70 movies. It makes the flight ten times nicer. I mean, can you imagine the freedom of… (more…)

Share

American Convenience Stores, Lousy Russian, Onion Bulb Skirts

The Good 1. Mexican food – You know what? An even moderately-ambitious Chinese entrepreneur could get rich growing avocados in China. Every ex-pat I know subsides into a state of deep melancholy every time someone mentions guacamole or avacados. On my last night in El Paso I ordered a side of guacamole, just to eat plain, and if I could… (more…)

Share