Monday, December 26, 2005
Last night, I was invited along with some other foreign teachers to attend a concert presented by the Shenzhen department of education. We were told we'd meet the mayor. In fact, we only got to meet the assistant to the assistant of the mayor. On the bright side, the music was good. It was a wide variety. We had Mozart and some traditional Chinese choir music. Granted I had no idea what they were singing about since I don't know that much Chinese. It was still enjoyable.
On another note, the program made no sense in English translation. There was an extremely long, nonsensicle run-on sentence. I'd post something from it, but I left it in my apartment. It really is quite funny.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Along the way, Ed took far too many pictures of people all around us... including other people on the bus. One Chinese girl found this quite amusing and decided to take pictures of her own... of yours truly. Her friend tried to convince her not to, but I waved at her and said, "go ahead."
So we ended up with dinner and theater for Thanksgiving. Let's give thanks it's Friday and I get out at noon for a trip to Guangzhou.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I'm now going on the theory that China doesn't understand telephones. Maybe if I tell the repairman that he's incompetent he'll feel embarassed enough to fix the thing.
Here's the kicker: They also voted to cut the budget of food stamps by $700 million.
So in their infinite wisdom, they give themselves more money while taking from the poorest. How about we take their entire salary away and start paying off the national debt? Better yet, let's just get rid of these idiots altogether. I think America could do just fine without a Congress. Make them get REAL jobs.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
On another note, I've been going to Wal-Mart (aka commie-mart). I'm impressed... just wish it was this nice back home. They even have a catch your own live crab bin.
I've also discovered the DVD store. I purchased two fairly recent movies for 20RMB (about $2.50). I'll look into posting a review of The Devil's Rejects soon.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Anyway, all's well here in Shenzhen. The city was just named the model city for China for it's economic and health success.
I still have no idea what I'm doing when I go to the grocery store. All I can really recognize are a few packages that written in partial English and the vegetables. I think I need to ask some of the Chinese teachers to accompany me to the store to help me figure out what all these items are. It's either that or I better learn Chinese fast. And that wouldn't be such a bad idea... it might help when I want to order some food at the restaurant downstairs. On that note, the hallway smells like Chinese food. That's not a complaint, just an observation.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Anyway, I've been here a day now and I'm lost beyond belief. I can't really talk to anyone other than the teachers since I don't know any Chinese and the Chinese know no English. My apartment is completely empty aside from a rock-hard bed, a wood couch, and a TV... and a telephone that don't work. I better get accustomed to this place quick. Otherwise, I doubt I'll make it through the first month.
As I'm told, I won't get any real training for teaching. However, I was also told it should only take me a week or two to get used to the classroom and grow comfortable in teaching these kids as much English as possible considering the great language barrier.
I think it should go well as long as I don't try to teach Jersey English, Brooklynese, or Pittsburghese. I'm really tempted, but I know I shouldn't resort to that.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
I think we need to teach a little more journalistic integrity and ethics. As do other countries, according to the article. Haven't these idiots ever heard of intellectual property rights? Please people, do your own work for a change. And do a good job at it.
I can't believe they really need to fund a survey to figure this out. Where do I sign up to get paid to do such pointless research?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The whole process took ten minutes from walking through security to getting everything filled out.
I had planned to use the whole day for this. I was back on the bus for Jersey by noon. I can pick up my visa Monday. Does this mean I get a visa? And I still want to know what the little Chinese note at the bottom of my receipt means. It probably says, "Stupid American Visa." And it's probably accurate.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Anyway, the Devils beat the Penguins 5-1, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Martin Brodeur. This game was the debut of Sidney Crosby--the kid who is supposed to be the next Wayne Gretzky. It was also Mario Lemieux's 40th birthday. Happy birthday, Mario. By the way, your team still looks terrible. Crosby wasn't all bad in his debut; he did have an assist on the poweplay (one of eleven powerplays of the night).
The Devils seem to have the upper hand with rookies this season. Zach Parise, the kid who led the U.S. team to the World Junior Championship, made his debut with a goal and an assist.
Both rookies were outdone by Washington Capital's newest addition Alexander Ovechkin, who had two goals on the night against Columbus.
At least there are three rookies worth watching this season. Let's just hope they continue this through this season and many to come.
Monday, October 03, 2005
I figure the U.S. government is borrowing enough money and resources from China already, so why not cut out the middle-man and get paid directly from the source. Actually, that's not the reason why I'm doing this. I really think it would be a great experience to teach English in another country. And for some reason I enjoy Asian cultures and history.
The only problem I see is that I have to keep my commentary to myself. I enjoy criticizing governments (U.S. and others). I have a lot of problems with the Chinese government and it's recent history of oppression and human rights violations. But since I don't want to wind up in a Chinese prison, I'll have to learn to shut my mouth. Fortunately, I won't have much opportunity to voice my opinions in a class of children.
Let's just hope it all works out.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this news story:
Some local weatherman in Idaho believes the Japanese mafia is behind Hurricane Katrina as retribution for the atomic bomb attacks of WWII. Usually I'd say, "Don't quit your day job." But it's too late. This guy decided to pursue his stupid theory full time. How much time can you devote to lies and BS?
Friday, September 23, 2005
NAROPA AUDIO ARCHIVE
So, now I'm looking at other teaching opportunities. These jobs are all in Japan and China. Although most are in China now because Japan doesn't seem to be hiring at this time. Fortunately, I have received two responses saying that I will be contacted for a phone interview. One is in Shenzhen (southern China) and the other is in Changchun (northeast China).
At this point it's first come, first serve. I just need an excuse to take some time out of the country and learn a second language (seeing as I gave up on Spanish some years ago). Not only that, but I don't feel like editing or proofreading anymore. Teaching sounds a little more interesting.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
"Over There" lacks. The actors do a fine job at protraying their stereotypical, one-dimensional characters, but that's about the only redeeming quality. The problem with the show isn't that the actors are flat or that the direction is bad (these aspects are terrific); the problem rests squarely on the writing. So far, only "Dim" has shown true emotion and character development (and this just developed in tonight's episode). The remaining characters are exactly how they were at the beginning of the series. Their emotions don't change much and neither do their attitudes and insight. Characters need to be more than one-dimensional. These people are not compelling. They are not forming what could become meaningful relationships. These characters do not create enough interest to keep viewers.
The storylines aren't much better. The first few episodes sounded vaguely like news reports. From then on the show has tried to incorporate more Iraqi life and culture--too little, too late. In tonight's episode, the crew finds $5 million dollars and debates what to do. There are ethical conversations, as well as questions of trust. Funny how this sounds a little like "The Shield" and its money train storyline. The difference being that "The Shield" slowly dealt with the money in a much more intriguing way.
Unless "Over There" can come up with some better storylines and a lot more character development, I don't see the series lasting. If I really wanted emotion to connect with the war in Iraq, I'd turn on CNN or talk to some recently returned soldiers.
As a side note: I may be a little biased in viewing this series as I have a few friends in the military--including those who have been to Iraq and are going back there.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
I am calling for the resignation of the vice president of Naropa. He's obviously too stupid to work in academia. And if he doesn't resign, I'd like a formal apology and tuition reimbursement. I spent $40,000 on that degree and I better have it soon.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Along with that, I received troubling news about my friend's brother in Iraq--he's now in a hospital in Maryland. I typically would go off on a rant about W. but I'll save that for another time and place. In the meantime, we have to hope for the best for James.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I could add a whole political rant to this about how oil CEOs are making billions and still can't cut the price, but I'll leave that you. And remember, W gave them all another tax break.
I suggest taking the train.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Matthew,Sorry folks, but I smell a skunk here. I don't think I'd want to work for a comany that sends out e-mails like this to potential employees whom they originally deem qualified.
I wanted to follow-up with you regarding your application for the
Assistant Editor – See the News before the Rest of the World job.
While your qualifications are excellent, it
has been determined that there are candidates who are a better fit
for this position. Should the requirements for this job change or if
we identify other jobs, we will notify you.
Thanks again and best of luck,
So, if anyone would like to offer this writer/editor/proofreader a quality job (I'm not talking big salary, but rather respect), please e-mail me. And for other reference, my Web site has a copy of my resume.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
[Note: this is a review that I wrote a few years ago for class and recently found it in my files. Thought some readers might like to see it.]
As a novel, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho is overrated. Not only that, but it is also a poor attempt at creating a work of art. I must admit that American Psycho has few — if any — redeeming qualities. The only redeeming quality I can think of is that it can be slightly humorous in its attempts at being artful. The greatest questions it raises are: how could any company consciously publish this and even then, how could it ever become so popular?
Most novels — at least the better ones — are easy to become engrossed in; this novel is not one of them. One of the reasons for this might be because I did not realize that it was a first-person narrative until the fifth page. There is also the wonderfully vivid descriptions of the appearance of everything that sounds more like an ad campaign than a story. I understand that the main character, Patrick Bateman, has an obsessive-compulsive personality and that in his high-class society image is everything, but his descriptions are excessive and boring. At one point he describes his morning routine in a five-page paragraph. I do not believe I have ever read such a long and meaningless paragraph in my life. If there is only one way to lose a reader it is by being excessively long winded. Usually when an author uses an abundance of description s/he will make it sound interesting or poetic to keep the readers’ interest; Ellis fails to do this in his approach.
The dialogue in American Psycho is not much better than the description. It is not drawn out exactly; it is simply repetitive and meaningless. For the first hundred or so pages Bateman and his friends only talk about image, restaurants, and having sex. None of these subjects are discussed tactfully or with much of a purpose. Usually dialogue is used to aid in character development, but in this case it is not necessary as all of the characters are almost identical. All of the men in the novel look similar, act similar, and have similar jobs. They are all self-centered, materialistic misogynists. Meanwhile all the women are beautiful, materialistic, and unintelligent.
In his character descriptions, Ellis fails to explain the motives for the pompous and sometimes stupid actions of the characters. He does not let the reader know of the characters’ pasts. There is also much confusion between the characters. First of all, many people call Patrick Bateman by numerous other names because he supposedly looks like ever other character. Secondly, because all the characters look and act similar, the reader has a problem remembering who is who. By doing so, he causes every main character to be unsympathetic. The only characters for whom the reader feels sympathy are the bums, waitresses, and murder victims.
Another problem I have found is that the novel is written in the present tense. I believe Ellis’ motive for this is to prevent foreshadowing and incorporate more suspense and surprise. However, I also believe that by doing so he is alienating the audience by leaving them in the dark so to speak. If Ellis’ purpose is to surprise the audience, he has failed. By portraying Patrick Bateman as an unsympathetic and almost repulsive character he evokes no emotion or surprise in the reader at the disgusting actions.
There are also some detail problems with the text. The character of Patrick Bateman is obviously obsessive-compulsive and yet he has a maid, eats out regularly, brings his blood-stained clothes to the dry cleaners, drinks heavily, and abuses cocaine. These do not connect well with an obsessive-compulsive personality. Simply with the drugs and alcohol, the character would have been dead from an overdose long ago. As for the maid and the dry cleaners, an intelligent murderer would not use either because of the threat of being caught. I understand that the maid and dry cleaners are a sort of status symbol for him, but it is just common sense that he would not use them.
One criticism of American Psycho is that it contains inappropriate graphic violence and sex. This is a valid criticism as it does contain a large amount of unnecessary graphic descriptions. The sexual content of the novel is more appropriate for an issue of Penthouse than a nationally distributed book. The graphic violence depicted seems to me to be a how-to murder and maim manual. I cannot decide whether or not this novel belongs in a library or an adult bookstore. The question is: Should this have been censored? The simple answer is “no.”
Just because this novel is disgusting and repulsive in content does not mean it should be censored on a national level. That would be defying the First Amendment rights of the author. However, the publisher of the novel should have used some discretion when considering the text. It is their job to eliminate works that do not fit their moral expectations or quality. But, since it was published it is the public’s duty to persuade people from not reading it because of its content. The best possible way to censor a work such as this is to not tell people of its violent or sexual content but rather to explain how poorly written it is. A work of this quality should not have been published simply based on the fact that it is not work of even mediocre quality. The only reason that this novel sold as many copies as it has is because people protested its publication and labeled it pornography. As right as these protesters were, they neglected to state that the novel was also poorly written. Simply by declaring a book disgusting, vulgar, or pornographic, etc. causes people to read it because “they want to know why it is disgusting, vulgar, etc.”
Monday, August 08, 2005
However, this week I will try to start a little 20-something's guide to Boulder, CO. Since I am probably leaving the city, I could leave everyone with a little something to remember me by. Other than that, I hope to finish Samuel R. Delany's Nova shortly, and write a review (so far it's looking like a positive review). Let me know if you have any book/movie recommendations for the future.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
The first episode made sense--getting to know the soldiers as they say goodbye to their families and understanding their respective family situations. First episodes of TV shows are general forgettable and unnecessary in long-run of a show. However, the second episode should build a great deal more on the characters that are introduced in the first. This series failed to do so.
There were quite a few characters to remember in the first episode (in fact, I can't recall many of their names or nicknames). There were half the number in the second. This brings the question: What happened to the other characters? What about the two women and their dilemmas in combat? They disappeared in the second episode--aside from a brief moment at the beginning.
I am having a little difficulty with the character "Smoke." This is the inner city, black man who tends to turn any conversation into a racial debate. It's fine that they have a character who is proud of his heritage, but this one is also against all others--he's anti-white and anti-Arab. He has no respect (or any hint of it) for anyone but his own. And they didn't balance this out with an Arab-hating white guy. But just to be safe, they added the educated Arab American.
It is almost impossible to connect to any character yet. They are all superficial. The series seems to make its aim at fictionalizing news reports without any human element. I'm sure I've read about all the action that's happened in the show so far. All it has done is put a nameless face on the war.
I should mention that there is one character who is almost sympathetic--the soldier whose name can't be remembered, but he's the one who got his leg blown off in the first episode. A viewer can see how bad his emotional state is and sympathize with his predicament. However, there is still not enough to connect with him.
"Over There" is just a show about a war--retelling everything we've read in newspapers and watched on TV news. There is no connection to the audience, which is exactly what they claimed to do with the show. To be successful, a show must have a human element. The writers of the show are forgetting this. I will continue to watch it, at least to give it another chance for redemption. If it doesn't get better in the next week or two, I'm changing the channel.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
This is the first novel from playwright/songwriter Junior Burke--published through a small press in Boulder, CO. Burke takes the title from The Great Gatsby, which he also uses as a reference point in many portions. For readers unfamiliar with F. Scott Fitzgerald's work, some allusions won't appear as important as they should. However, there is no need to reread Gatsby as it will not reveal much hidden meaning in the story.
Burke's version takes place in the 1920s with settings as farspread as Germany, Kentucky, Chicago, and of course Great Neck, NY. The central figure of the novel is Ritz--a pseudonymed womanizer who lies his way into business and personal deals. He is accompanied by his love interest Faye--a high-class Kentucky girl. There are also a few historical figures to go along with the fictionalized--there is Harold Meyerstein bootlegging liquor during prohibition and post-WWI German nationalist Eckhart, with whom Ritz makes bootlegging deals to make his fortune.
Keeping with the Gatsby theme, Burke's characters are mostly unlikeable sorts and only serve the purpose of being interesting. The most likeable of all is Judith, a professional golfer, who helps Meyerstein with some "errands" on her rounds through tournaments. Even though they are an unlikeable bunch, they occasionally have redeeming qualities in their frail emotional states. Burke manages to develop the characters so that their personalities fit--even if you wouldn't want to befriend any of them.
The novel contains a few songs, originally written lyrics from Burke, that fit with the time period. Much of the language makes it clear that he is a songwriter with a musical style in his prose. His descriptions of places and events are vivid--attributed to a long list of resource materials and travels.
Through it all, Burke keeps a consistent tone that fits the time period and class of the characters. He provides the seedy moments of high-class life of the Jazz Age that many writers of that time were reluctant to portray. It just goes to show that after 80 years more details of life can be made public in literature to create a gorgeous work of historical fiction.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The NHL is back. I just wish more than my friends and I cared about it. Competition should be better this year with lower payrolls and improved rules changes to increase goal scoring.
Most teams have reduced ticket prices which were outrageous the last few seasons... I mean, $30 for cheap seats?? I really hope they can get some fans back.
I will definitely watch because I am a hockey addict. But I wish Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow would resign. They both screwed up royally and cost us an entire season. I'm glad they came to a reasonable conclusion to bring the game back, but it's not enough. Resign. I will continue to lobby for their expulsion from hockey until they are finally dragged through the streets of Toronto and stoned to death.
Bettman and Goodenow must go now!
I will do my best to watch some more TV (more than just Simpsons, Family Guy, sports, The Shield). But I will also comment on the numerous books I read--I'll try to get a few reviews down on the books I've recently read.
Please check back soon and I hope to have something important for you.