May 31, 2010

Iron Man 2 movie censorship

Finally got around to seeing Iron Man 2 over the weekend in a theater in Beijing. I was all excited to write a detailed post on the censors' garbling of the words "Russia", "Russian", "North Korea", and permutations thereof, when I read through the Shanghaiist's wonderful summary.

That's what I get for sleepin' on the job. Here are two posts I wrote in 2007 and 2009, respectively, detailing essentially the same type of censorship they did in the Transformers movies that played in China:

May 29, 2010

Lessons in bidet usage

There's nothing worse than taking a number two and only having dry toilet paper to wipe with, is there? I prefer to carry a little pack of Wet Ones when I can (thank you Howard Stern for the tip), but if I don't have them I'll make do-it-yourself Wet Ones with the restroom's paper towels and some water.

I was very pleased during a recent trip to Europe to find that Italian hotel bathrooms come equipped with bidets. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon, so I've not had any training with how to use these things. All I know about bidets is from what I've seen in Crocodile Dundee, where he turns on the bidet, and the water spurts up from the middle of the bowl three feet high.

This is how the bidets look in Italy:

Note that there is only one hole at the bottom, which is for the drain. I thought that bidets have two holes: one for the drain, like a regular sink, and then another water spout, right in the middle, to shoot a stream of water upwards onto your nether bits.

I was totally perplexed. The only way to get water to come out of the bidet was to turn on the main faucet, in which case it sprayed directly downwards, like a regular wash basin. I'm thinking, what's going on? Don't you folks know that my B-Hole is upwards, not down?

So my first morning at the Italian pensione, after a very productive eight-ounce bowel movement, I decided to try and figure out the bidet.

I think to myself, "Ok, so the water doesn't spray upwards like in Crocodile Dundee. That must mean I'm supposed to plug the bidet, fill the bowl to the brim with water, and then sit my filthy rear end in the water and swish it around."

I proceed to fill the bidet up with water, as you can see in this picture:

Just before I plop my rear end in the bowl of water and make it look like Lipton tea, I have a realization: maybe the head of the faucet swivels!

I try swiveling the head faucet. It moves! After you use the toilet, you can point the faucet head of the bidet in the appropriate direction, and position your rear end in front of it to get a complete cleaning.

Here's the faucet pointing as far upwards as it will go:

It only points horizontal, but it's enough to get the job done. I thought I knew everything about bidets from Paul Hogan, but now I know different. Happy bideting.

May 4, 2010

Article: "When Hipsters Move in on Chinese: It's Ugly"

Flipping through a copy of the Village Voice, I came across this interesting article, entitled "When Hipsters Move in on Chinese: It's Ugly". The author discusses the gentrification of some Chinese immigrant apartment buildings in Manhattan, and the ensuing conflicts with the wealthier "hipsters" that displace the previous tenants.

Here's a few paragraphs:
The new tenants, mostly white, are in their mid-twenties. Many go to nearby art colleges—Parsons, the School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union—or are working their first jobs out of school. Some commute to schools in less desirable places, like Long Island. Many have moved in within the past year; their apartments have that Ikea/thrift-store feel. The other residents are working-class Chinese, most of whom immigrated to New York from Fujian province in the '90s.


The newcomers are mostly surprised—or thrown off—by the buildings' long-term Chinese tenants, who chat with each other in a strange language, leave their doors open so their neighbors can see them eating soup in their boxers and sandals, and let their children play in the hallway. These newcomers, meanwhile, do their thing: They rush out of the buildings with their cell phones pressed to their ears, go on Snapple runs because there's no food in the apartment, throw house parties, and stumble home drunk from nearby bars.


One thing I need to add right off, is that not all Chinese people are the same. Some older Beijing people might occasionally be seen in their pajamas, but if you see anyone eating soup with their doors open, wearing boxers and sandals, they're guaranteed to be one thing — waidiren. They're definitely not people from Beijing.

In the Village Voice article, the Chinese immigrants they're talking about are all migrants from the southern province of Fujian. They're the same transplants you see in Beijing and Shanghai spitting on the sidewalk, throwing ice cream wrappers in the gutter, pushing and shoving to get on the subway, sneezing without covering their mouths, and letting their kids take long, slippery bowel movements in the gutter.

The difference between a Fujianese migrant and a person from Beijing is as pronounced as the difference between a gang of Gypsy thieves roaming the streets in Italy and a group of German mechanical engineers. I suppose that to an author unfamiliar with the different regions and people of China, the details could be overlooked.

If I were editing the Village Voice, I'd have done a find-replace and changed all mentions of "Chinese" to "Fujianese" in that article. It kind of irks me that everyone got lumped together with the litterbugs and spitters from Fujian.

It's a good article to read from start to finish if you have the time.