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The Crock Theory

The Elucidation of the Parlous Panjandrum

or

The Crock Theory

by Dr. Dave Garber

One might begin by asking, “What is a Parlous Panjandrum?”  (parlous being synonymous with dangerous and panjandrum being a high muck amuck.  One might describe a person holding high office in a bureaucracy as a Parlous Panjandrum if the person’s behavior fits the definition.

An evolutionary stage of the Parlous Panjandrum is the Sisyphean Wanderoo,  Let me explain the roots of the term “Sisyphean Wanderoo.”   Sisyphean means like Sisyphus, who was a character in Greek mythology.  In Webster’s, Sisyphus is described as follows: “A son of Aeolus and ruler of Corinth, noted for his trickery: he was punished in Tartarus by being compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope, the stone always escaping him and rolling down again.”  Sisyphean is used to refer to an endless and unavailing labor or task.  A wanderoo is a monkey or langur found in India and Ceylon — most of whom have bright red or purple butts.  The name wanderoo seemed to go well with Sisyphean and conveyed a graphic image of someone who is working very hard and not really accomplishing his/her objectives.  The Parlous Panjandrum generally does not remember being a Sisyphean Wanderoo.  Whence then the Crock Theory?

If one approaches a low level worker in any number of bureaucratic organizations, to include: government, the military, the academy, or business and ask him/her to briefly to describe the nature of the organization a common response will be “It is a crock of ……(fill in the blank)”  (This response will not generally come from the novitiate who, for a period of time, accepts the view of the organization presented in the organization’s indoctrination.)

A prevailing myth in bureaucratic organizations is that as one moves up the hierarchy one becomes increasingly free.  The assumption here is that when one can order others about and control one’s own schedule, that this represents organizational freedom. In fact as one moves up in an organization one becomes increasingly bound by organizational constraints that limit one’s objective view of the organization, to say nothing of freedom of speech.  In fact, organizational freedom is more accurately defined as the ability to see the true characteristics of the organization and to comment there on.  Thus those at the lower levels are free to see the organization for what it is, and to comment about it.  They see that it’s a “Crock” and can say that it’s a “Crock.”  In fact they go about knowing and saying with impunity.

With time and promotion in the organization the previously free individual becomes less and less able to openly say that it’s a Crock.  Frequently these workers become “closet “Crock” sayers.”  That is they go into a closet before work and say: “It’s a “Crock”, It’s a “Crock.”  They then go to work and act and speak as if it is not a “Crock.”

With time and promotion the Closet “Crock” Sayer’s memory fades and he/she forgets that it’s a crock.   This occurs around the time the individual becomes a “middle manager.”  Many individuals become truly dangerous (parlous) at this point because they take the organization very seriously and fail to see the humor that infuses all organizations.

Having forgotten that it’s a Crock, upward mobility subjects the individual to a strange metamorphosis — He/She becomes a “Crock.”  Less you despair, the problem with bureaucratic organizations is not that “Crocks” top them.  There are all types of Crocks: Plain “Crocks”, Fancy “Crocks”, “Crocks” with tops and “Crocks” with handles, to name a few.  The problem is with the “Cracked Crock.”  This problem is related to the contents of “Crocks.”  For it has been axiomatic since Isaac Newton that: “S— runs down hill.”

Dave Garber

—–

My first “real job” was working with a group of developmentally disabled girls. Severely handicapped teens with autism, Downs Syndrome, seizure disorders and more… It remains the toughest job I ever performed. I took the job as I waited to enter the military as a Medic and Social Work Psychology Procedures Specialist. The doctoral students in charge of the program were writing their dissertations in a new an exciting field: Applied Behavioral Analysis or “Behavior Mod” as it was known at the time. I volunteered to help them norm a self-paced course meant to train doctoral students at the University of North Carolina.

Serendipity brought me to the US Academy of Health Sciences after basic training.  The faculty Learning Theory and Behavior Modification instructor, a draftee , was about to leave the service. I was all of 19-yrs old,so my knowledge of Skinnerian principles of behavior stunned the staff and caused not a little doubt about my ability to teach in a Health Sciences School where war hardened vets were returning to be reclassified from combat jobs after tough tours in Vietnam. After two mandatory graduate classes in teaching techniques and examination methods and a trial class examination I was reluctantly brought on to the faculty. I was easily the youngest and least educated staff member and as a result endured more hazing than an Animal House inductee. Even without a degree, our cooperation with Baylor University soon landed me the august title, “assistant instructor” and then later instructor. It was the beginning of a long love affair with academics.

Major Dave Garber was my first and only boss at Ft. Sam Houston. He had a doctorate in Social Work and was a benevolent patriarchal figure to a rag-tag bunch of belligerent and far too intelligent enlisted draftees. We made the cast of M.A.S.H. look like a spit-and-polish outfit. Professor Potter, uh, Garber, who went on to become a full Colonel and the Army’s Chief Social Work Consultant was likely the only man alive with patience and humor enough to guide our department through the last days Vietnam and a fast changing and demoralized cast of military misfits. With better equipment and facilities than colleges have even today, we not only trained the military’s counselors, doctors, nurses and allied health care professionals, we literally wrote the book on Behavioral Science for the military, conducted POW family adjustment research, supervised interns in the Army’s burn center, authored computer assisted instruction material, made training videos used by service schools, and supervised interns in child guidance/abuse clinics and drug and alcohol centers. Dave often said, in years that followed that we “could do it all” and I am guessing we could have.

My peers went on to careers as Teachers, Career Military Officers, College Academics, Psychologists, Dentists Social Workers and more. It was a talented group….

This 19-year old would never have made it through without Dr. Garber. He never raised his voice to me when he found his name tag one day switched to read “Garbage,” and only once had to gently inform me that my signing out of the school for hours at a time for “PT”  was meant to be Physical Training, not Personal Time. And I was admonished, not demoted, for rewiring the non-commissioned chief’s phone to operate upside down and for filing lunch in his desk under the names of its parts: “Banana, Tuna Sandwich and so on…

He consoled me when I couldn’t handle working with trauma cases as I was not far removed from my own troubled teen years: a father lost to Vietnam and a mother claimed by grief. He encouraged my involvement in theater and turned a blind eye to my participation in professional stage productions in San Antonio even when it cost me the honor graduate position in my own class.  In return for his sage wisdom and generosity he received world-class teaching, serious and lasting research and healing clinical returns from all of us on his team.

The original Crock Theory was written by Dave and another faculty member while I was there. It reflects the wisdom, sobriety and keen, acerbic wit of the man who tamed and a group that otherwise would have surely landed in some stockade. The Army was rife with cracked crocks, but Dave wasn’t one of them.

Thank you Dave for allowing me to reprint this here and for staying in touch on Facebook and elsewhere. Thank you Professor for being a role model for all I have positively achieved as a teacher. Thank you Colonel for being a real leader.

A salute, and a warm hug for all you have accomplished yourself and through those of us you led to success.

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What would Buddha do?

Buddha in the sky with diamonds

Several years ago, attending a Jimmy Buffet concert with a Catholic priest (Indian trail, NC, not Margaritaville) , we were discussing ways to raise money for his new parish. In neighboring Georgia a woman was drawing huge crowds claiming to see incarnations of the Virgin Mary. So, we laughingly concocted a never-to-be scheme that involved catching and releasing a trout on the church property that we would say bore some saint’s likeness on its its tail. We would then put donation baskets all up and down the creek. It was sacrilegious, but damned funny anyway.

A few years later I visited Shingo, Japan where they claim to have Christ and his brother buried on a hill above town. Jesus, according to local mythology, let his brother take his place on the cross and then went to rural Japan and retired to a happily married life in the sticks. Surprisingly, there was no marketing involved anywhere near the grave site.

Please bear with me as this all comes together for you in the usual intuitive flash at the end…

I just read a delightful book first printed in 1999 entitled What would Buddha Do? by Franz Metcalf. The pocket-sized tome is rife with well thought out answers to a host of everyday questions, some that made me laugh out loud:

1. What would Buddha do if his credit cards are maxed out?

2. What would Buddha do when making a salad?

3. What would Buddha do to avoid burnout?

4. What would Buddha do about trusting the media?

The answer to last question can be found in the Buddhist writing Undanavarga 22.17: “One’s ears hear a lot; one’s eyes sees a lot. The wise should not believe everything seen or heard.” Buddha must read the China Daily too, where I found the picture above. It seems Buddha hung around for about an hour on Heibei’s Zushan Mountain, but unlike the manifestations in Georgia, he didn’t impart any wisdom to the local tourists.

In another book I reviewed recently, One Couple, Two Cultures, there was a story about a British man and his Chinese wife discussing behavior common in each other’s country. The wife seemed to have no trouble commenting on behalf of the entire 1.3 billion residents of China, while the Brit’ demured on speaking for the whole of England. I can with absolute certainty say that had the Buddha appeared in Stone Mountain Park, Georgia, that every redneck (remember before you shoot that my father hailed from Harlan County, Kentucky), instead of burning him as a heretic would have tried to sell him on Ebay. I still remember the eerie glow-in-the-dark St. Joseph that watched over me as a child sleeping in the dark.

Now I’m not sure what made them think it was Buddha and not Mother Theresa, Confucius, or Steve Irwin. But I continue to digress…

What surprised me the most is that nobody is now selling watches of Buddha waving from the peak or claiming to have private chats with Gautama himself. Another missed marketing opportunity for China. David and I are thinking about sorting through seaweed potato chips until we come up with  some that look like Sun Yat Sen or Lao Zi. We promise to donate all proceeds (and extra chips) to charity.

So what would Buddha do if Buddha were alive today? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be standing around in the Heibei fog, though he might possible blog a few meditations–using a wordpress platform, of course. So I’m off to see if WWBD-in-canton.com is taken. This way, we can answer the pressing questions like:

1. What would Buddha do if someone stole a taxi out from under his nose?

2. What would Buddha do if someone took the food from his plate at a Cantonese buffet?

3. What would Buddha do if he found out he were watching a bootleg copy of Seven Years in Tibet?

4. What would Buddha say if his disciples kept commenting on his weight and skin color?

Now I’m getting ready to read Metcalf’s answer to “What would Buddha Do about that Coffee Habit?” If this post isn’t a call for my spiritual rehab or caffeine detox, I don’t know what is.

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For a laugh, or not…

china censorship

Click on the pic…Some of you may have seen this a while back, but….

Update: My jubilation was short-lived. WordPress is blocked in China again…..

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A New Olympic Blood Sport in China….

RPS girls

 

 You have your Badminton, your Ping Pong and now, the sport that could bring adulation to the uber-geeks and the athletically challenged propelling someone into the world of endorsements like Yao Ming or Xiang Liu: Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Wikipedia actually has a cheater's guide!!

Now I am not sure how one would train for a RPS tourney, but Matti Leshem, the Co-Kohuna (commissioner) of the Mr. of the US Rock Paper Scissors League, would like to see it become an Olympic sport one day. OK, laugh if you like, but some fast-signing hand athlete won $10,000 clams at the Vegas Championship that was covered by ESPN! Leshem, a Hollywood producer, makes don King look like a hot dog hawker at a ballpark. He acted as emcee for the $50,000 competition with 300 contestants and $50,000 in prizes. This has mad implications for Asian countries who use the game to decide everything from who uses the potty first to what auction company is going to sell your art collection. And move over NASCAR! The sponsor of this fast-paced discipline, where carpal tunnel and joint pain are are analogous to hairpin turn crashes, is Anheuser-Busch. With the best two out of three wins deciding the single elimination winners there is plenty of time for refreshments! And wait until the Japanese get in on this. Americans are already dressing up in costumes (one guy wears red cooking mitts 'cause his hands are just too hot) and I cannot wait for the masters of kitch and mindless game shows to get in on this one. This may be the fund raiser we need for the Blog of Dreams trip across China. Anyone want to code a RPS game?? With a hat tip to Everthing But Hockey

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON THE SOLDIER WHO NEEDED ASSISTANCE. HERE IS AN EMAIL RECEIVED FROM LONE STAR PUNDIT TODAY:

Lonnie,

Yes, a PayPal account did get set up for the Cooper family.  You can find a PayPal donation button at the bottom of this page:  http://ccooperff.blogspot.com/

Also, CavMom (who helped Mrs. Cooper set up the PayPal account) added this update on Tuesday:

Update – As of 05/15/07: The funeral fund is now up to $3,876.00. Thank you to all who have helped the Cooper family.

 

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Intolerant of Intolerance….

I had an online row with a sports writer who used racist language (or a racist who uses sports lingo) and crude anti-China rhetoric to ostensibly protest the NBA moving into China and not Vegas. He did not seem to follow my logic that the 300 million players here in China (that is a 3 with 8 zeros) could well push back some of the trade deficit dough to us with their enthusiastic support. They love NBA-Ball here!

He basically accused me of being a bigot hater and said that made me a bigot. Neener, Neener. So, I wrote back to tell him I did not hate sports writers as a class of people, just him. I think he needs to follow in the footsteps of other sports writer that have stepped outside of their normal areas of expertise and written books. It could be a treatise on his views of the world outside the borders of his blog: he could call it Tuesdays with Moron*.


Thanks to Scott for mining this fun video. Needless to say, we don’t get Comedy Central in China. Hmmm, unless that means the Hong Kong Daily Apple….
*With apologies to great sports writer and author Mitch Albom

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The funniest man in China….

Who:

Attended Cathedral Chorister School, Durham with Tony Blair ?

Who was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1982 for the 1981 season?

Who once crashed his MacLaren F1, a supercar valued at more than $1,000,000, into the back of a stationary Mini Metro, valued at around $600 USD (the damage was not severe)?

Who was one of the guests at Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles (you would have to have a sense of humor) wedding ?

You know you have been an expat too long when you can discuss, in detail, such trivia about the above referenced English comic, and revered Black Adder member, Rowan Atkinson.

And he has a new movie out:

Mr Bean in China

Ms Yue, a child of the revolution, does not know who the Beatles were, my students would not know Winnie the Pooh from the Pope (he looks like a really old bear, but with a hat, ae?), but even teenage girls would trample Justin Tiberlake enroute to getting a look at Mr. Bean’s mole-like mug. I am headed to the movies tonight to see what all the new fuss is about despite being offered the DVD version by every Chinese person I know. I might even do a review.

I once wrote, in a now lost post, about the Chinese sense of humor. Yes, it has its subtleties in speech (They love and study word play), but good physical stunts are valued over a talented tongue (sinocidal: hands off!).

And it is not just because of language (or my not being real funny) that I have to exaggerate body language or vocal tone to get a class to smile. Here are some examples of some pictures from that lost post that have endured on the net because they still tickle the national funny-bone here in China:

computer addict china

toilet humor

china humor

chins cupid

34.jpg

35.jpg

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The Handsomest Indonesian Boy in Guangzhou

Guest post by DD

On Saturday night I met the handsomest Indonesian boy in Guangzhou at the Mansion in Guangzhou, though in this picture he is happily cruising around Macau. I guess he knows how to light up all of south China.  He works at a small, high-quality bar in downtown Guangzhou as the event manager.

handsomest indonesian boy in guangzhou

Ladies and gentlemen, leave a note if you find this. And everone mention how handsome he is!

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Zaijian

chinglish

Books have been virtually replaced by blogs. But, puns aside, many of them showcase the transformative elements Pablo Neruda* suggests as essential to written art in Ars Magnetica:
“From so much loving and journeying, books emerge.

And if they don’t contain kisses or landscapes,
if they don’t contain a woman in every drop,
hunger, desire, anger, roads,
there are no use as a shield or as a bell:
they have no eyes and won’t be able to open them….”

Here I have I have tried to smooth the stubble of memory, share poetry, attempt humor, journal my social conscience, and reconcile my longings while shoutng to you in some far-off room. I leave here absolutely bewildered that anyone, other than my long-suffering friends, ever returned to listen. I am grateful you did.
Continue Reading »

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Good Golly Miss Bolly!

There is a new blog in town.

Another friend has decided to turn her obsession into another obsession and blog about Bollywood–two addictions for the price of one. And is Good Golly Miss Bolly a great name or what? Some of the rejected titles were: Bombay is Reeling, Bollywood Boulevard, Macau’s Dehli….

Bollywood DancingBollywood Dancing

Bollwood is a hot item these days. It has become mainstream western fare Bollywood stars are popular poster picks for American teens.

I am a closet Bollywood fan (I guess this post effective outs me, huh Scott?) and pine for the days of big budget movies, orchestras and happy endings that only India and China can afford to produce now. Bollywood is dancing and singing and near smooching and dancing and near smooching and near smooching and singing and dancing….and all very sensual because lots is still left to the imagination, the mystery is intact…

Bollywood

Take a stroll down Bollywood Boulevard, and watch Bombay Reeling with Arizona native and Macau expat, Miss Bolly.

Bollywood

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