bear market

You want DVD sex-movie?
Shanghai: Day Three – Airybuddy in the house feelin’ sickly (brrrump-bump-ba-da-da-bump).

Yeah, something minor, yet annoying seems to have stricken all the inhabitants of the Shanghai grotto. Common theories point to the local smog situation, the allowance of smoking in restaurants, and, of course, too much gay sex and the bird-flu. Less prevalent theories exist, but they are not fit for even the depravity of the internets. So, we pop the vitamin C and zinc and look a little more tired than we feel – but all is well. It’s been a while since I “lived” with other dudes, and I gotta admit it has its charm. Guys are easy, not much phases us; a lot less demanding than cohabiting with the fairer sex, who have standards on all sorts of irrelevant and pointless things like “dust” and “hygiene.” Nah… I exaggerate, we’re all squeaky clean.

Last night we hit the local “fake” market. You know, where you can get a ripoff version of just about anything you want. The hot commodities this season seem to be bags, watches, DVDs, and scarfs. The entire experience was a little surreal and definitely annoying. White guys must have a huge only-visibly-to-Chinese neon sign flashing above their heads. We’re all rich to them, cast aside money with indifference. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we arrived shortly before the market was closing, but within feet of crossing the threshold into the shopfront-lined streets we were literally assaulted with offers. “Excuse me sir! You want watches? Bags? DVD? Best quality, good price for you!” It didn’t end either. You weren’t just approached and left alone with a wave and a “mai-yo.” No, it was like a huge snowball, Chinese hawkers drawn to our white skin as if by magnet. They hit you and stuck with you, following you.

You know that cartoon where there’s two dogs walking down the street? They’re both caricatures of gangsters, one a large bulldog, and one a little tiny terrier, both wearing tiny dog-bowlers cocked to one side. The bulldog is obviously the boss, and the little dog is his toadie. The little dog, Chester, keeps jumping over the big dog, Spike, asking him what they’re gonna do. “What are we gonna do? Huh Spike? What next?” And then the big dog would knock him down and go, “Shet uuuup Chester.” These guys were all Chesters, stalking you, harping into your ear over and over and over. There was no “No,” no “I’m not interested.” At first I was put-out by it, at times I wanted to punch these guys, tugging on my shirtsleeves and looking up at me with puppydog eyes. But soon I was able to remove myself from the situation and look at it from the “outside.” As soon as I did that, the whole thing became utterly hilarious.

Snappy-dressed Chinese men circled around the small knot of foreigners like sharks, holding out glossy color printouts of the various fakes they could produce back at their store. A moving tangle of people strolling down the alleyway, English-speakers at the center of it all trying their best to act like nothing was out of the ordinary. All the while begging, pleading, competing vendors making competing pleas right alongside them. It didn’t matter that there were 1000 stores selling the exact same cheap knockoffs.

We ended up making jokes out of it. I’d stroll up to guys and ask them, straight-faced, “Excuse me, do you know anywhere where I could buy something like… ah… lemme think… maybe a bag? Or a watch or DVD or something?” After watching them cream their jeans in anticipation of the 70¢ they were about to make off me – I’d just laugh in their pathetic forlorn faces and walk on. I found this ultimately gratifying. You had to do this, or you would go insane. It was a little like torture… unending, unrelenting – but it was also so absurd you couldn’t help but laugh. I cursed myself for forgetting my cellphone, as I wanted so bad to record a snippet of the banter for hilariousness purposes.

The locals who took us actually apologized, and were really concerned that we’d tell others about the experience in a negative way. The people here love their city and their culture, and they really didn’t want us holding a bad view. They said we were only assaulted because the place was about to close and everyone was looking for one last big sale. That, and because we looked so “rich and powerful.” I dunno about “rich and powerful,” more like fat and lazy… but ahh well, such is life.

Bye now.

is anything real here?

Git, ya longhairs.
Shanghai: Day Two.

Day two in Shanghai dawned early with an 8:30am report-time target at the local office. An uneventful night previous gave me some good sleep. Traffic was terrible, didn’t make it to the building until 9am. Bullshat for a good hour, had an hour meeting, and then adjourned for lunch and a team “offsite” event. Kart racing and KTV (if you haven’t read my Taiwan entries, KTV = karaoke). So, all in all, I put in a good solid hour of honest work. Not too impressive, I know. Several hours, beers, and Dunhills later – I decided to call it an early evening around midnight. Weaved my way back to the apartment with Tony and hit the sack. Had left my computer at work so didn’t get a chance to write, a shame too – as I was in a good mood and can kinda remember wanting to write about something. Downed copious amounts of water (magic hangover repellent) and sucked a throat lozenge (magic smokeover repellent), wish they had a brush for your lungs so they wouldn’t feel like a midget was using your chest for a trampoline all night.

Via BoingBoing, my lord I am obsessed with this site; spent a good hour or more just poking around it the other day. I guess mostly because it reminds me so much of some of our old haunts from my growin’ up days: Rinker, Astro, etc. You can’t help but look at pictures like this one and actually feel sixteen again. I really wish we’d taken movies/pictures at Rinker, or the Pits, the Tracks, Skyview, the Clearing, etc. Ahh.. the good ol’ days… places from your youth just sound cool. The Clearing? Damn that’s smooth!

The apartment is nice, but I don’t think my bed could be more uncomfortable were it made of nails or broken glass. Seriously, it’s a mattress – but it’s more like what we call a boxspring in America. I wonder if it really is just a boxspring, but no – there is some semblance of padding there. Seriously, it’s like sleeping on a damn piece of plywood – carpet would be preferable, but there’s no carpet. So I fold up the comforter and sleep on it, it’s better than nothing. It really is like a frat house, people shuffling in at 5am, a cloud of atomized liquor wafting around them, filling the room with the scent of gin. Waking to find folks asleep on the couch, fully clothed, shoes and all. Yeah we really got it all: Maxim Swimsuit DVDs atop the TV; piss on the toilet seat; pubes on the soap; the definition of a bachelor pad… but with only 1/3 of the population actually qualified for the moniker.

Patchwork entry, sorry; at least I’m writing. -Out.

can i get a nap?

All sex, all the time.
Shanghai: Day One.

Man, that was a long flight. The direct flight into Shanghai was completely sold out, so we had to take a detour through Hong Kong. All in all it was the longest multi-hop flight I’ve done, although I’m pretty sure India will beat it come December. Got in around midnight, and was out at “club row” with the boys before 2am. Ate some dicey lamb kebabs from a street vendor. The sticks of uncooked meat were housed in a filthy styrofoam cooler (not chilled, just in there) on the ground, and he’d reach in with his bare hands and grab them (by the meat-end) to stick them over the coals. Fanning the coals to flame, he’d shake a generous amount of spicy seasoning onto the meated skewers. Mmm… those were good. Soon after though, my stomach revolted on me – I like to think not because of the kebabs but because of the six or so Djarums I indulged in. Either way, I found myself ready to go long before the others – and hailed a cab back to the apartment. Unable to sleep, I tossed and turned on my unbelievably hard mattress until the rest of the drunks stumbled in and woke me. Turns out I missed an almost-altercation in which some girl was forehead-thumped with a dumpling… maybe I’m glad I left early. Anyway, the college-life parallels I drew earlier about being in this apartment with buddies were dead-on… it’s gonna be a week…

I don’t know if it’s just where we went last night, or if it can be said of Shanghai in general – but the hookers here are much more brazen than anything I thought previously brazen from Taiwan. Maybe it’s because, in Taiwan, I run with a respectable crew of locals that don’t tend to frequent the red light district – but the women of the night seem much more subtle there than what I experienced last night. Girls just come up one after another, ask your name, and tell you how much it’ll cost to enjoy their “company” for the evening. You can’t escape it, they are literally everywhere. Even as I was climbing into the back seat of a taxi headed home, a girl tapped on my window to say, “Don’t go home alone, you can still go home with me.”

As I’ve written about previously when in Taiwan, I get that same familiar sense of disgust seeing sleazy American men taking full advantage of the “industry” here. I don’t know why I should, the girls are obviously out to make money, and the guys seem to have a good time losing it – so perhaps it’s a victimless crime. But, I can’t help but watch these pompous Americans seemingly lording over the women. Walking into the bar in the same business-casual clothes they wore to work that day, taking a minute to salaciously scan the room as if it were buffet line, and striding, cock-out-front, up to whichever girl they’ve chosen to bless with their almighty dollar. There’s no introductions, no small-talk, just right to the grabbing and pawing and kissing. It’s understood: I’m American, I chose you to fuck tonight, here’s a dollar bitch. I hate watching it actually, some tall mustachioed man bending down to plant a sloppy kiss on a only-willing-because-you’re-paying Asian woman, hands kneading her as he says ridiculous things out loud like, “You’re beautiful all the time, at 5am, at noon; always.” He knows compliments aren’t necessary; it must make it seem more like he’s working for it… maybe gives him the satisfaction of wooing her… dulls the fact that he could be one of any number as long as the money’s the same.

I had more, but there’s no time. Tomorrow, perhaps. ‘Night.

green again

Off into the sun.
Yeah, we’re back to the good old sickly green layout. Hope you didn’t get too attached to the pink. Likely gonna be a short entry tonight, I’ve got lots to do before I’m ready to split tomorrow. So let’s get on with it.

Picking up prescriptions and getting haircuts and doing laundry: must be the eve of international travel. And, it is; tomorrow (today as you read) I’ll be taking wing en route to popping my Shanghai cherry (can I say that?). Dunno if I mentioned it, but I’m not staying at a hotel while there. Our group rents an apartment there, since we often have travelers on-site. It’ll be me and two of my closer work buddies crashing there this coming week. I fully anticipate some college-esque late-night tipsy chat sessions – and am looking forward to a week of unbridled maleisms: objectifying women, taking about bowel movements, ragging on each other, and being generally female-repellent. It should be fun. Hopefully the work part will end at the appointed time each day, and I’ll have my evenings to enjoy some of the city.

Tomorrow, on the way to the airport, I have an appointment to call the work travel folks and arrange my early December trip to India. Yeah, making reservations for an international trip while on another international trip. India. Now there’s something different. It’ll be my last trip of the year, and not just by virtue of the year being nearly over by the time I get back. I’m excited about it, and I’m also looking forward to it being one of the last big trips before Lil’ Chino comes. Sidetrack: Oh, and yes – we’re still calling the little girl in my wife’s belly “Lil’ Chino.” I don’t care if it’s not a girl’s name… it’s a great name for a fetus. So there. OK, back to… whatever. I’m planning to cut down on travel starting next year. God sometimes this stupid thing sounds so boring and self-serving. So many sentences starting with “I” and a body starts to get tired of talking about himself.

Until Monday in China. Goodnight.

baby talk

Go pharb.
Sometimes, when you’re anticipating something so much – it’s hard to write about anything else. You end up skipping a day because you can’t really think of something to put down, you’re too focused on planning what you’ll eventually write when your anticipated event happens. If you know anything about how I write, you know that I’m sitting here writing this on Tuesday night even though I’ll pawn it off tomorrow as a Wednesday entry. That means, stuff that may have already happened when you read this tomorrow hasn’t yet happened as I write it today (but you probably already figured that out). Meaning, unfortunately, I can’t write now about what I’m waiting on so patiently to happen tomorrow: Lil’ Chino’s sexy test. So yeah, you won’t know when you read this – but if you check back after lunchtime on the west coast – I think you’ll be able to figure it out.

Leaving Friday morning for a week in Shanghai. After my last laptop crash, I realized that I’d lost all my NES and N64 emulator files and savegames. This really disappointed me, as one of the things I look forward to on my overseas flights is picking up where I left off in Zelda64 on my last overseas flight. Now, all my overseas flight Zelda gameplay data was gone… I’d have to start from scratch. Luckily, I managed to scrounge up an archived copy on an old backup hard drive. That, and making sure Tyson’s Punch Out! and Super Mario work are essential pre-flight chores. OK, OK, I’m also pretty pumped about going to Shanghai for the 1st time. I’ll be traveling with quite a few friends, and know more than a few folks there as well – so the trip should be pretty fun from a non-work perspective. Work-wise, I do have quite a bit to get done… so it won’t be a complete boondoggle. Wow, this paragraph is about completely nothing… sorry about that.

The Halloween projects are coming along nicely. I got my pneumatic cylinder today, right about when I expected it. I’d also been expecting my solenoid, since I ordered it before I did the cylinder. Well, a week and a half later I get home to an e-mail today saying I’ve got a refund from PayPal. Apparently, the seller didn’t have the item “in stock.” Whatever that means. I was a little peeved it took them a week and a half of having my money to decide to inform me that they didn’t actually the item they were selling. So… it’s back to the drawing board on the solenoid, which means I won’t get to test the working setup before I leave for Shanghai – which is a real bummer to me. And, since I got such a killer deal on the solenoid from Ebay… I’ll likely end up paying more now that time is more of a factor. Bummer. I wonder if the seller just canned the transaction because they effed up and sold a $90 solenoid for $35…

Until noonish, peace out.