Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Boy Who Cried Explosive Diarrhea

Bowels are a funny thing in a new culture. There is new and interesting food that must be tasted, and tested out on ones internal system. There is new bacteria to encounter and all sorts of nasty goodness that plays tricks on the old digestive system.

I have been in China now for nearly a month, and a lot of that time (more than I'd ever care to discuss at length) has been spent on the toilet. It attacks frequently and without warning.


This week I began tutoring a middle-aged Chinese woman in the fine skills of the English language. It is boring, tedious, and hot work (as she rarely turns on the air conditioning.) We do four hours a day and rarely take a break. The other day I was there and along about hour three I was feeling an undying need to get the freak out of there. Our lessons basically take the form of me reading a sentence and her repeating it back to me, with perhaps a break to discuss vocabulary.

Don't tell me that isn't the best way to learn a language because I know, but there is no changing this strategy with this woman.

So there I was bored out of my mind, hot, tired and still with an hour to go. What could I do? What I did was pretended I needed to go to the bathroom. I went in, washed my face, and noticed in their three mirrors that I could see the back of my head.

My noticeably balding head, thank you very much.

Then I did a fake flush and went on my way.

Maybe fifteen minutes later I felt a flutter. A pain. An immediate and incredible need to use the restroom for real. I sat for a minute feeling the massive pain in my belly thinking maybe I could wait it out. There is only one need for a man to use the toilet so quickly after he just used it and that reason is kind of embarrassing to admit.

Like the boy who cried wolf, I had pretended to use the bathroom, and now was stuck with a real need to go.

Surely I could make it half an hour until I went home. Surely I wouldn't have to admit I was having this trouble. Surely I Must Go Now!

And I went. The bathroom is located right next to the room we were studying in. That means very little privacy for what I was about to do. I don't want to be gross but what I did do can only be called explosive an drawn out. In my desire not to make too large a sound or mess I tried to reign in the business at hand, which only served to make the problem last longer.

Eventually I decided to screw it and have at it. It is a natural function and frankly I'm quitting the tutoring gig next week so who cares what she think.

And there it was.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dreamin' Songs: Norah Jones - "I've Been Thinking About You"

The move to Shanghai has, in more than one way, messed up my blogging. Obviously I have moved back to blogger, which isn't so bad in itself except that it leaves all the words I wrote on Wordpress back at that blog. Also that blog had built up a good following and had a 6 grade on the Google scale. Unfortunately, I cannot log into that account to direct that traffic to here.

Frankly it is a bit of a pain in the butt to deal with the whole Chinese internet anyways. So many sites are blocked, and the ones that aren't are so often very slow I often just give up. Some of this may be the filtering through the firewall, some of it may be that there are 18 million people in this city clogging up the bandwidth. There are also several hundred in the Living Quarters of the school where I live and my guess is they are working off the same line.

Add all that to the fact that I am still culture shocking and trying to adjust, plus writing another blog all about my experiences here and you get a lot of neglect to this blog.

I am trying to remedy that, but it is difficult. Last night I listened a great deal to a Norah Jones bootleg that I hope to add to the Bootleg Country series real soon. It is a gorgeous, beautiful thing and I very much enjoyed listening to it.

I am quite sure this is why I woke up with "I've Been Thinking About You" in my head this morning. It is one of Norahs more jaunty songs, which means it almost makes it to mid-tempo. It has a Beatles-esque bass line banging it out and of course Norahs beautiful voice.

I could think of worse things to wake up to!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

As It Turns Out, I Kinda Like 30 Rock

At the beginning of last season, had their been a vote or a contest on which behind-the-scenes show loosely based on Saturday Night Live was better or would come out on the top, I would have hands down bet on Studio 60. No wait let's rephrase that. In the middle of the season, I would have bet on Studio 60. At the beginning of the season I'm not sure I knew that both shows even existed, nor would I have cared too much.

But by mid-season I was very much a fan of Studio 60 while I just sort of frowned and stuck up my nose at 30 Rock. Truth is, I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in about a decade. The last sketch I remember watching was the whole Jeopardy parody with Will Ferrel. While that bit was quite hilarious, I only happened to watch that bit. If I recall correctly my sister was home and she still liked SNL and thus I watched that bit before going to bed.

What that really means is that Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan were unknown to me. Or, rather, I knew the names from what to me were irrelevant and unfunny seasons of SNL. I saw no reason to watch uninteresting actors parody a show that no longer interested me.

And so I skipped it entirely.

Well, as it turns out, I was wrong.

My sister has the first season on DVD and as she lives right down the path, and as I kept coming over to subdue my culture shock, and as she kept watching episode, I kept watching them too.

Well, as it turns out, it is funny. Really rather funny.

Tina Fey is funny and smart and, well kind of a hottie. She wrote many of the shows and helps produce it and it seems like the whole show is kind of her baby, and darned if she doesn't do a great job with it.

Alec Baldwin who I sometimes love and often despise is brilliant too. I never would have thought he'd do so well at a sit-com, but he nails it every time. Tracy Morgan is kind of pompous and annoying, but that's pretty much his character. The rest of the cast is lovely, too.

So there you have it. We borrowed the set and we've just about watched it all in the last few days.

I wouldn't have thought it to be true, but I'm now a 30 Rock fan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brewster's Millions Is Back To Blogger

Ok, here's the deal: Way back when I started this blog, right here on Blogger. It was almost a fluke as it was all about France, but then it turned into crazy pop culture stuff and I was hooked. I was a real blogger.

Then I messed with the template and everything failed. I couldn't see or read anything here. So I switched to a Wordpress blog. I liked it there. Things weren't perfect, but I dug the scene.

Well, mostly.

Then I figured out what was wrong with Blogger and fixed it. But by then I was well established on Wordpress and stayed. Well, recently I moved to China and China has this gigantic, nation wide firewall. The government blocks out all the websites they find to be unacceptable. Apparently both Blogger and Wordpress fall into that category. I guess there are too many wild folks with itchy typing fingers and a blog that lets them spill.

The strange thing is that I can still use Blogger for the actual blogging process. I can type and edit the blog, I just can't actually see the finished product. Weird I know. Wordpress, however, is kaput. I can't do crap on it.

Thus here I am again, back to blogging on Blogger. I'd call it a circle of life thing, but I'm still kind of pissed all my old posts are stuck on Wordpress, and I can't tell the world to come back here.