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Learning How to Speak…and Pick Up Women!

8 Aug

I’ve been studying Chinese with much more consistency lately, and part of that includes listening to Pimsleur’s Mandarin lessons on my computer and iPod.  Similar to Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur uses an all-listening-and-speaking format of teaching through conversations and repetition.  It’s a quite useful supplement to my classes and textbook study.  As well, the lessons adhere to a type of practicality that the classrooms lacks and that I find highly entertaining.  Simply put, it tries to teach the most vital language points very first.

Considering the typical expat living in China, Pimsleur decided to make its Mandarin I lessons based around a conversation between an American man and a Chinese woman.  Therefore, while learning how to ask for directions and order food, I’m also learning the next most practical thing for that demographic: how to pick up women.  I find it hilarious that I may not be able to ask about the weather just yet, but I can rattle out the sentences: “Let’s go to your place for a drink,” “Would you like to eat with me?” and “I’d like to go to a hotel” with practiced ease.

I’m convinced that one day, with enough life experience, I’ll eventually find a very practical use for each of these phrases in my own life.  Until then, I’m quite content knowing how to say 我要一瓶啤酒。(I want a bottle of beer.) with consistent fluency.

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Lifegems

19 Nov

This is a re-post from another blog.  Too good not to share again.

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4:  In the event that, you know, unfortunate, natural-life events take a beloved one from you too soon, don’t worry, you can turn that loved one into a diamond to keep FOREVER. I know you’re intrigued.
http://www.lifegem.com/

Okay, or you could take a piece from a living individual and memorialize it forever. Not as grossly and creepily awesome.  

NO, I would never do this.

1:  I’m totally gonna steal some of your hair next time I see you! Ha!

4:  hahah…I guess I feel honored.

5:  What color would you like for us to make you when your time has come, 4?  The red heart is very lovely.

5:  I told mom about this and told her I would turn her into a diamond and when I show my children I will say “this was your grandmother” (In an old, withered voice, of course.)

2:  More importantly, would you mind if your ashes were split up in order to make earrings? Or would you prefer that you stay together as much as possible?   Come on earrings! Demanding that you stay in one piece postmortem is a little selfish, don’t you think?

1:  I don’t have strong opinions on whether or not my ashes are split up, but I do have a strong preference on color. I would like to be the light blue color. None of the showy blues, greens, purples or other such nonsenses. Keep it classy, people.

Studies in flattery

2 Oct

This is perhaps my favorite part of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I recently heard it again and couldn’t help putting it on here.

Mr. Bennet:  ‘…it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy.  May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?’

Mr. Collins:  ‘They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.’

Who knew Pepé Le Pew was French?

2 Oct

The past few days have got me thinking about cultural differences.  I’ll always believe that people are people everywhere, but the little differences tickle or baffle me at times.  Here are a few reflections.

Last night, I went out with a few French friends.  The topic of stereotypes came up as it inevitably does when young intelligent men and women from different parts of the world start talking and drinking at the same time.  Somehow the character of Pepé Le Pew from Looney Tunes came up, and I was amazed to find out that none of them know that he is supposed to be French.  They’d grown up watching the show in French, so all of the characters spoke French.  They didn’t think that any of the characters represented nationalities, and this revelation appalled them all.  In their mock outrage, they even suggested encouraging the French government to make a statement of severe disapproval.

The entire conversation revealed some interesting stereotypes.  These representatives of French culture (at least regarding my generation), when asked what most French people think of American women, said that we’re seen as promiscuous (the same goes for men, with the added characteristic of being overly-macho in an unintelligent way).  The Americans in the conversation (including myself) shared that we’ve grown up hearing that French women never shave and that French men are very romantic (but also overly forward and often womanizing) and that all French people in general are arrogant.  This revelation was also amusing to my French comrades because they think that Italian men are the womanizing bunch among Europeans and that French men don’t deserve being characterized as romantic because they’re too lazy.

Another cultural exchange I have experienced of late has been a little less jovial.  Having recently traveled home for about 3 weeks (and to Thailand for a week before that, where I drank plenty of Thai beer and ate food so good I almost can’t bear to think about it), I’ve eaten a LOT of good food over the past few months.  Thus, upon returning to China, I was evidently noticeably plumper (though not by my roommate – bless his heart, he’s such a sweetie with those little white lies).  Almost every one of my Chinese colleagues and students, upon seeing me for the first time in over a month, remarked that I looked rested, happy, and fatter than usual.  I replied to their comments a bit coldly the first few times, but I eventually noticed the happy, sugary tones with which this compliment was delivered each time.  Finally, I asked a group of my students, all women, what a comment like that usually connotes, and they say that this kind of exchange between women is usually friendly rather than malicious and even a compliment at times.

It’s fascinating to me that such a vast difference in reactions to such a comment exists between cultures.  I would say that Americans are much more obsessed with image and perceived societal expectations regarding weight than the Chinese, but that’s simply not true.  Many Chinese women are very concerned with image, especially looking wealthy and/or trendy.  So many Chinese women are naturally small and thin, yet great concern over weight (especially by the smaller percentage of Chinese women that happen to be above the size 4) still exists and affects women psychologically.  However, being called a little fatter than usual by an acquaintance doesn’t seem to make them want to strangle someone.

talk about unintended consequences…

7 Sep

The above title and the below words are my sister’s, from her blog cranktheory, which is absolutely hilarious.  The post regards this disturbing article from the New York Times about sperm donation (more specifically, the offspring that sperm donation helps produce).  I am re-posting it because the entry unfortunately doesn’t have an individual URL.  Check out her blog, anyway.

Pretty soon, the shit’s gonna hit the fan.  Excuse my language, but I. Be. Serious.

More than one person is going to accidently have a baby with her half brother and people everywhere are going to be all like, “Oh crap, whaat have we done?”

I think this gives me pretty good support for having a child the natural way, you know, if that time ever comes. Which, of course, would be adoption, since the whole feeling-like-a-walrus-for-nine(plus)-months thing doesn’t really sit with me at the moment. Just kidding (sincere about the walrus part, though).

But seriously, hypothetical college male out there in the blogosphere, those fifty dollars that you get from the sperm bank won’t seem so “Awesome! Beer Money!” twenty years later when you have fifty biological offspring.

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Oh my goodness! What if someone adopted a child who was created via sperm donation? Talk about some serious psychological issues.

Bluugh.

Love me some David Sedaris

7 Sep

As the title indicates, I’m a huge fan.  I just stumbled across this excellent quote on a web site dedicated to his books:

We were not a a hugging people.  In terms of emotional comfort it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well made cocktail.

Yes and yes.  That’s from Naked.

Unanswerable question of the universe

7 Sep

Every now and then, a moment happens when I stumble across one of those unanswerable questions of the universe.  Sometimes, they leave me in awe, and I mentally bow down in appreciation to the awesome unanswerableness of the question, and internally tip my figurative hat to the fact that those questions exist to begin with.  I actually take solace in the fact that some questions don’t have answers.  Sometimes, those questions leave me not in awe, but baffled, and I am confused at their existence, but merely shrug my shoulders and move on.  And sometimes, though much less often, I feel something akin to anger at this confusion.

I’ve stumbled upon one of those questions again, and while I have nothing near anger over my confusion, I’ll readily admit that for me, this one’s real head-scratcher.  I have absolutely nothing near an answer to this question, and I think I’ll be baffled by it for the rest of my existence.  I’m sure by this point you’re demanding: Spit out the damned question, already!  Well, here it is:

Why is it that so many interesting, intelligent, creative people (but especially men) in my life love R. Kelly?

No, really.  And notice that I didn’t say like.  I know some people who are on the cutting edge when it comes to ideas about fitness and simple living.  I know some people who can cut a rug and set a table better than anyone I know.  I know some people who can draw and create music and sing in a way that inspires you and leaves you wishing you could spend all day witnessing their creations.  All of these people are intelligent.  All of these people make me feel like my own abilities and characteristics are insignificant in comparison at times.  Yet, all of them not only like, but actually love the music of R. Kelly.

I admit that a few of his tunes are catchy.  I also admit that I enjoyed the irony of “Trapped in the Closet” as much as most avid fans.  But really, folks…really?  I get that he has appeal, even if I don’t always understand it.  But, I’ll never understand the correlation between his music and the people in my life who I personally believe define awesomeness itself.

UPDATE:  Check out this post from my sister’s tumblr in response to my daring to write about R. Kelly.