February 25, 2009

Mr Crazy

Filed under: China,Dalian,teaching — Kim @ 3:59 am

I have said before, and will say again, that I think most English teachers I have come across in China (and Japan and Thailand and Hungary) are decent, well-adjusted people who do a professional job.

But a minority are not, and they tend to smear the reputation of the majority. So far so predictable…but these guys also provide a lot of fun and good stories, and last night while drinking with a couple of old-school Dalian English teachers I was treated to a few teacherly tales about some of the weirder ones who’ve drifted through the Dalian TEFL scene over the years.

I thought the best story was about Crazy Jack. Ole Crazy Jack apparently was a big guy who could get quite violent when drunk – I think we’ve all heard our fair share of anecdotes about those kinds of alcoholic antics – but anyway, and all, the conversation about him started something like this…

“Oh yeah and what about Crazy Jack! You remember him?”

“Remember him! Man, my third night in Dalian I got talking to Crazy Jack in Dave’s bar and after a few beers he asked me if I’d like to go back to his place, take a couple of Es, and then he’d cross-dress for me.”

I think “Crazy Jack” earned his nickname there. I’ve never actually worked with a drug-loving, cross-dressing, bar-brawling bisexual…but I kind of wish I had.

(Oh, and I changed his name. He’s not “Jack”, but he is crazy.)

February 21, 2009

Get Packing

Filed under: China,culture,teaching — Kim @ 6:39 am

Next Thursday I am upping sticks with the wife and sprog and moving down to start a three-year stint in Ningbo, working at the University of Nottingham in Ningbo. (About which more later).

And so I have spent the last two days doing my bloody packing. The bloody packing wouldn’t be that annoying if it weren’t for all the dozens of files full of newspaper cuttings and letters and photocopies I’ve accumulated over the years and which I have to trawl through every time I move. I usually manage to ruthlessly discard about 1.6% of my corpus. I think my generation (I’m 38) missed out by 5 years or so on the massive convenience of simply sticking all those words words words on laptops and thumbdrives. The fact that newspapers are online now and that all my lesson plans and teaching materials and correspondence can be stuck on a little dinkymajig on my keyring is just amazing.

It doesn’t help that I’m a hoarder, and having been a TEFL teacher for over ten years I’ve accumulated more papercrap than the average hoarder. I am very reluctant to throw away something that could become the basis of hours of teaching and save me a lot of preparation. And you never know when you will finally get round to reading that article you photocopied 7 years ago in Edinburgh and has been half way round the world with you already so shame to throw it away now really….

Result = I am carting 40 kilos of words from North to South China. Absurd!

Oh well, got that off my chest. Back to it.

February 13, 2009

Chris Devonshire-Ellis is a top bloke

Filed under: asia,blogs,food — Kim @ 5:24 pm

The good old humanaught surprised me the other day by posting about a certain Mr Chris “Devonshire”-Ellis. Check it out.

But I don’t want to talk about the article or any of the claims and counter-claims that pinged around the comments section – until Ryan had to delete them because of threats from the litigious Monsieur Ellis.

No…what I want to say is that Chris Devonshire-Ellis is undoubtedly, and forever, a top bloke in my humble estimation. The reason why I think so is simple. I met him once in a bar in Dalian and he bought me a beer. More precisely he bought me two, and they were both Duvel.

I will forgive him anything after that. I will support him through thick and thin. I will never say a bad word about the man.

I do, however, feel that he probably shot himself in the foot by trying to get rid of online gossip about him. He is a very successful businessman now and has built up a company that is just too strong and established to be shaken by online twittering about him. So why sweat the small stuff?

Also, he reminds me very much in looks and attitude and demeanor of Felix Dennis. Who is another absolutely top bloke who gives away top quality wine at his poetry readings.

How I would love to have a drinking session with those two! Samuel Johnson once said, “let me smile with the wise and eat with the rich” and those are wise words.

So here’s a big “Cheers!” to the swashbucklingly entrepreneurial and magnificently magnanimous Mr CDE! (Mine’s a crate of Duvel.)

February 1, 2009

Hate mail

Filed under: blogs,China,culture,language — Kim @ 8:31 pm

As all you Sinoblogoholics know full well, Mr Peking Duck is a great source for linking us up with good stories and he recently hooked me up with a funny post over at Brendan O’Kane’s kickass bokane blog a dog dog space.

The Quackmeister sold me the piece by averring that Mr O’ Kane takes a recent NYT article about the Chinese hip-hop scene (by Jimmy Wang) and then proceeds to “tear it apart, syllable by syllable. Quite hilarious. Totally merciless.

And when I read it, it did indeed seem that was what Mr Bokane had done…but but but but, not so fast!! Comments are what make blogs really hip and hop, and the many comments left on this post (48 and counting) were good, and educating, reading.

Comment 22 comes from a real life C-town hippyhopper himself, a certain Mr Andreas Yi Jun Hwang, who chipped in with his two cents worth and is a man who clearly has got his game together. Mr AYJ was closely followed (comment 32) by an incredibly well-informed and pleasantly civil and eloquent American academic called Angela Steele, who just happens to have her own blog about the Chinese hip-hop scene. These two comments, especially Angela Steele’s, made me pretty much change my mind about bokane’s beef with Jimmy and actually made Mr B K seem like he weren’t all that.

But also, and hence the title of this here post, there was some choice abuse of Brendan by some vexed members of the Chinese hip-hop community.

In comment 30, the charming Tracy Wu doesn’t mince her words when informing Mr B (and men of his kidney) just what she thinks of him/them…

Tracy Wu wrote:

To Brendan,

You are nothing but a common hater posing as a knowledgeable academic. And I notice that a lot of these heads who have linked to you are fellow academic haters who enjoy reading you flame other people, but they’re mostly just haters too! A network of haters who pat each other on the back and beat each other off to the sound of their own postings.

You stink! And you haven’t done anything for the hip-hop community in China. Get a life.

Clearly here is a shorty well-schooled in the hip-hop tradition of “battling”. I wouldn’t care to cross wits with her over the mic. Anyway, I thought she was on the right side of rude, and quite funny. But I thought Mr XINT (comment 27) went a bit too far…

XINT wrote:

Brendan,

I got forwarded your blog post from a friend.
You know jack shit about hip-hop.

You know jack shit about rap in china.

I am a hip-hop MC in Shanghai, and I just want you to know i’m sick of nerds like you who study chinese and think they’re hot shit. I don’t know you, but I can tell from your pitiful blog the type of person you are.

I’m sick of white dudes like you who have asian fetish coming to china, boning girls, thinking you’re hot shit, when you can’t even get girls back home fromwhatever shithole you crawled out of. China boosts up your ego; you have western worshipping chinese peasant girls suck your dick and it makes you think you’re king. you ain’t no king; you’re slime. You’re lower than low. You’re fucking pathetic. You’re a “grade A loser,” as they say. All you’ve got to do with your time is write your jealousy filled, hater posts about contradicting someone who has done better than you. I hope you get AIDS from one of the hookers you’ve been banging, you cocksucking CIA spy motherfucker.

And were I Mr O’ Kane I might be tempted to respond with something along the lines of “Well someone’s got to keep your sister out of the rice fields.” (Geddit?)

But actually, this hate mail doesn’t ring true. The English is too good. If you’ll allow me to indulge in a little Forensic Linguistics then let me opine that details such as the use of a semi-colon (you ain’t no king; you’re slime) plus the fact that there are no apostrophe errors, topped off by the quaint expression “as they say”, would seem to suggest that the guy who wrote that was probably a tenured American academic with too much time on his (her?) hands. Or, more likely, one of Brendan’s university chums winding him up. What else would better explain the shrill climactic hyperbole of “you cocksucking CIA spy motherfucker“?

Unless the guy is a lunatic obviously.

So, Brendan…do you know who wrote it? Can you Renrou this ass? I’d like to have my hunch scratched.